When the weather is dry, sunny, breezy and hot, some of the drupelets -- the tiny juicy balls on raspberries -- may be scalded. - Original Credit: For the Baltimore Sun
When the weather is dry, sunny, breezy and hot, some of the drupelets -- the tiny juicy balls on raspberries -- may be scalded. - Original Credit: For the Baltimore Sun (Ellen Nibali / HANDOUT)

Some of my raspberries have white patches. Is this a disease? If not, can I eat the ones that only have one or two “spots”?

This is white drupelet disorder, which is a fancy way of saying sunscald. Drupelets are the tiny juicy balls that together make up one raspberry (or blackberry.) Each has a seed. When weather is dry, sunny, breezy and hot, some of the drupelets may be scalded. They turn white or tan and can become hard.

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If your berries merely have a white drupelet here and there, they are still perfectly edible and fine in recipes.

We’re having a tick disagreement. My spouse doesn’t want to mow the lawn because it’s dry. He says it grows better when grass is taller anyway. I’ve been told tall grass promotes ticks. What to do?

Grass does grow better when it’s mowed high. High mowing means 3½-4”. Like any plant, grass has to put out a lot of energy if constantly whacked unnaturally short. A taller height also conserves moisture and shades out weeds.

Research shows that lawns can go 2-3 weeks without mowing and not show any ticks at all. (Do not do this when turf is growing fast in spring.) No matter the season, no more than 1/3 of a grass blade should be removed at one time. Clippings should be allowed to lie. They temper soil temperatures, cushion foot traffic and decompose into nutrients that feed the grass. They do not promote ticks either.

The tall grass warnings you’ve heard refer to much taller grass, which is habitat for ticks plus the mice that are the main carrier of ticks. This summer you can both appreciate the foxes, snakes, hawks, and opossums that keep our tick populations in check by eating mice.

University of Maryland Extension’s Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information at extension.umd.edu/hgic. Click “Ask Maryland’s Gardening Experts” to send questions and photos.

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