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AliveOct2016

Q. THE DIRT GARDENER THANKS FOR ASKING I’ve been told that the sweetest bell peppers are those with four bumps on the bottom as they are the females. The “male” pepper has only three bumps. Is this factual? In addition, my red, mini bell peppers are now starting to turn a marbling color. They’re a combination of red, orange, and green colors and then start to shrivel up. Are they lacking something or just very confused? The number of bumps or lobes on a pepper is not an indicator of sweetness, A. nor the sex of a fruit. Peppers have both male and female reproductive structures in the same flower. They do not produce separate male and female fruits. The male flower is sterile. It’s the female that produces the fruit although some male flowers on a papaya have been known to set fruit. Genetics determines the number of lobes on a pepper. The four lobed ‘bell’ pepper is the most popular in the USA, so plants have been bred for this characteristic. Sweetness is another genetic characteristic. The sweetness in all sweet peppers increases as they mature. They start out green and change color as they ripen. The color depends on the specific variety; the most common variety is red when ripe. Red, yellow or orange sweet bell peppers start out green and turn red, yellow or orange when ripe. What can be confusing, is that there is also a variety that is green when ripe. Peppers shrivel up when they are over ripe and on the decline. So they need to be picked before this occurs. The green bell peppers you find at the store are usually an unripe green sweet bell pepper or it could be an unripe red. They will not be any of the other color varieties in the green stage because the other colors can be sold at a much higher price, so they are always allowed to ripen before being sold. The additional time it takes to ripen and change color accounts for the reason they are more expensive. Overall, you’re waiting too long to harvest the peppers, so pick them before they start to shrivel. A L I V E E A S T B A Y 38 o c t o b e r 2 0 1 6 BUZZ BERTOLERO


AliveOct2016
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