Jessica Damiano Jessica Damiano, Newsday columnist

Jessica Damiano is a master gardener and journalist with more than 25 years experience in radio, television, print

Love 'em or hate 'em, no one can deny mulberries are delicious. Dissenters complain about the mess the soft, squishy, moist fruits create - littering the lawn, creating a slippage hazard, hitching a ride on shoes and staining carpeting when tracked indoors. But the blackberry-shaped fruits, which can be nearly black, red, purple or white, are extremely sweet. It's best to lay a sheet or tarp under trees in early summer, shake branches and collect fruits after they've fallen.

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Trees, which can grow to 80 feet tall, require full sun, slightly acidic soil (5.5-6.5) and well-drained soil. They're drought-tolerant and easy to grow, with very few pest and disease problems, and there's rarely a need to fertilize them.

Eat berries out of hand, cook into sauce or bake into pies and tarts.