Mushrooms are relatively easy to identify if you know a few things to check, but there’s also a Facebook group where you can find help. CONTRIBUTED BY WALTER REEVES
Photo: Walter Reeves
Photo: Walter Reeves

Mushroom identification is easy with this group

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.

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: I had a friend tell me to put ashes around my hosta to keep the deer away. Is this true? Debbie Hipps, email

A: Not really. Deer might be deterred if you dust ashes lightly on the hosta leaves, but that would be unattractive and the ashes will be washed off with the first rain. Deer love to eat hosta. Spray-on repellents work sporadically but certainly not every time. If you have several hosta or other plants that deer like, consider installing a low electric fence to surround them. Maintenance is minimal and the results are sure-fire!

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.

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