Concept of ‘male’ and ‘female’ peppers is a myth

Different colors of bell peppers may taste different, but there is no such thing as different sexes. CONTRIBUTED BY WALTER REEVES
Different colors of bell peppers may taste different, but there is no such thing as different sexes. CONTRIBUTED BY WALTER REEVES

Q: Is it true that male and female green peppers taste different? My neighbor believes this. Brody Callaway, email

A: Your neighbor may believe this with all their heart but, sadly, they are wrong. There is no such thing as a "male" or "female" pepper. Pepper flowers contain both male and female organs, so they are self-pollinating. The fruit itself has no sex organs. The number of lobes on a pepper does not determine their sex. Different varieties have different numbers of lobes, ranging from two to five.

Q: How do I get rid of ants that make my potato hills their home? Are they destroying my potatoes underground? Benjamin Parker, Newton County

A: Assuming you have fire ants, they are known to feed on potato tubers. You'll get the best organic control by following two steps: bait, then drench. Scatter spinosad bait (Fertilome Come and Get It) on the mound and wait 24 hours. Then drench the mound with d-limonene (Orange Guard Fire Ant Control). This should give control for most of the summer.

Q: How deep does my raised bed need to be? Ryan Heinke, email

A: Given perfect soil, different vegetables send roots to different depths. Lettuce, radish, basil and spinach grow fine in soil only 4 inches deep. Beans, pepper, eggplant and carrots need 8 inches of soil or more. Tomatoes, okra, corn and summer squash can use a full 12 inches of soil. My advice? Use 8-inch-wide boards to build the frame, then thoroughly shovel the soil under the frame 6 inches deep. Add three 2-inch layers of bagged soil designed for outdoor raised beds, thoroughly mixing each layer with the one(s) beneath. That should give you 12 inches of soil depth, which is adequate for all vegetables.

Q: I saw that Truist Park uses paspalum grass. Our zoysia lawn struggles in an area shaded by some oak trees. Would paspalum have more success? Robert Twilling, Cartersville

A: I don't recommend it. Paspalum grass can look very good as a turfgrass but requires more maintenance than zoysia. It will require frequent mowing, and you'll need a reel lawnmower to keep the mowing height low enough. Zoysia and paspalum are about the same in shade tolerance.

Q: My Florida room leaked over the winter and mushrooms grew in the damp carpet. Could you tell me someone who could identify them? Ed Carter, email

A: I am far from a mushroom expert. When I am curious about a mushroom that I have found, I go to the Facebook group formed by Mushroom Hunters of North Georgia, bit.ly/GAmushroom. It is easy to join their group and post pictures of mushrooms you want to identify.

Listen to Walter Reeves’ segments at 6:35 a.m. on “Green and Growing with Ashley Frasca” Saturday mornings on 95.5 WSB. Visit his website, www.walterreeves.com, follow him on Twitter @walterreeves, on Pinterest, or join his Facebook Fan Page at bit.ly/georgiagardener for more garden tips.