My tomatoes have little white tough spots under the skin. And my friend bought a tomato last week that had white tough areas deep inside. Is this a disease?

There are two issues at work here, and neither is caused by disease. The spots of white pithy tissue directly under the skin of your tomatoes is caused by stinkbug feeding. The white corky areas in your friend's tomato may be caused by one or more of the following factors: tomato variety, high temperatures, low potassium levels, and cool spring weather followed by hot weather. Both tomatoes are edible.


Every week, I prune the wisteria on my deck arbor or it goes crazy. It only blooms for a short period, and I want to replace it with one of those orange-pink native honeysuckles that bloom all summer (and do not go crazy). Will this provide privacy?

Our native coral honeysuckle can grow from 3 feet to 20 feet long. As long as you meet its site requirements, it should grow well for you. You will have to train it to cover where you need privacy. You may need more than one plant. (Incidentally, Asian types of wisteria are listed as invasive in Maryland.)

Digging deeper

Swamp milkweed

Asclepias incarnata

Swamp milkweed can be your butterfly and pollinator magnet when its more famous orange cousin, butterfly weed, winds down, This native perennial, which provides nectar and pollen for monarchs and an array of visiting insects, grows about 4 feet tall and 2 feet wide. After flowering, more seasonal interest is not far behind. Seed pods develop, stuffed with gossamer parachutes attached to single seeds. Pods split open and seeds are carried aloft into the breeze to find new homes. Swamp milkweed prefers full sun and moist soil, as it name suggests, but can grow in moderately moist soil. The base of a downspout, a rain garden or a somewhat damp spot in the yard is a perfect location.

—Ellen Nibali

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