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LifestyleHome & Garden

Damaged blackberries are still edible

My blackberries had some brown parts on the berries early in the season, but that seems to have gone away. Now I'm having trouble with those little berry "balls" turning white.

Each of those little juice-filled spheres that make up a blackberry is known as a druplet. Brown ones occur when a tarnished plant bug has inserted its mouth part into a druplet here and there. That may happen early in the growing season. The juice from these berries are still useable for jelly, sauce or any recipe that puts the berries through a strainer. White druplets are from sun scorch. They are also edible.

My tomatoes have ragged bites through the skin and slightly into the fruit. How do I treat them, and what is it that I am treating?

There are numerous pests that will occasionally attack tomato fruit, probably to get moisture. Birds, squirrels, turtles and several types of worms are capable of inflicting such wounds. There are numerous reports of such damage this year, and it is probably the result of the heat and lack of available moisture. You may want to place some trays of water around your garden area for the critters.

University of Maryland Extension's Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information. Call 800-342-2507 or send a question to the website at hgic.umd.edu.

Plant of the weekPanicle hydrangea

Hydrangea paniculata 'Tardiva'

Say "hydrangea," and most people picture the blue or pink mopheads of Hydrangea macrophylla. A lesser known but hardier and more reliable flowering large shrub for our area is Hydrangea paniculata or panicle hydrangea. Two readily available cultivars are "Tardiva," blooming creamy white and aging to shell pink; and "Limelight," blooming a fresh white/lime green. The small flowers are tightly packed into a large panicle or cone shape (sort of like a lilac on steroids) at the ends of long sturdy stems. They bloom on new wood (grown this season) in late summer to early fall and can reach about 10 feet tall. Native to Japan, they prefer moist, well-drained soil in sun to part-sun. —Christine McComas

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