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Tomato contestant: Patrick Dean

Return challenger Patrick Dean of West Islip has

Return challenger Patrick Dean of West Islip has a dachshund statue guarding his tomatoes. (2013) Credit: Handout

Return challenger Patrick Dean of West Islip isn’t taking any chances: If these cages won’t adequately protect his Great White tomatoes, his guard dachshund will! Dean says he got a “late start due to weather this year, but it’s O.K., as they hit 5 feet tall." Last month, he reported spotting 60 tomatoes on the plants!

Save the date

Are you in? This year’s contest will be held at 7 p.m. Aug. 23 at Newsday headquarters (235 Pinelawn Rd., Melville). To join, simply bring your biggest, heaviest ripe fruit to the event. I'll be on hand to weigh your tomatoes personally and crown the 2013 Tomato King or Queen. In the meantime, send a photo of yourself with your tomato plants, along with details about your growing strategy, to jessica.damiano@newsday.com, and you might be featured next.

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