Better to transplant trees when they're not so thirsty

BACKYARD Q&A

September 05, 1999

Q. I have some small forest trees that I'd like to move to a different part of my property. Isn't fall a good time to do this?

A. Yes, it's fine to transplant trees in the fall, but your chances for a successful move will improve if you wait until March, just before your trees break dormancy.

This is especially true this year, because trees are severely stressed by the drought and may not have enough foods built up to help them withstand a fall transplanting.

If you decide to wait, you could get a jump on things by preparing the planting area now. That would save you from having to dig in wet soil in the spring.

Q. I am house-sitting for a friend who has some big containers of hyacinth beans and scarlet runner beans growing up an arbor. The plants are enormous and are loaded with beans. Are the pods and seeds edible? Will the plants withstand frost?

A. Both types of beans are edible at any stage, but you may be disappointed to learn that the seeds will lose their beautiful colors when cooked. Unfortunately, a hard frost will kill the plants.

Q. I had the chilling experience of watching a large snapping turtle walk past my garden. What was it after?

Do snapping turtles attack humans?

A. Snapping turtles are common aquatic turtles found throughout Maryland. They spend a lot of time in water. Perhaps the pond your turtle called home dried up, and he was looking for a new pond or stream. Females are often seen walking around in the spring looking for a protected spot in which to lay eggs.

Snapping turtles have a feisty disposition and should be left alone. Generally, though, these beautiful, prehistoric-looking creatures will not snap at a person unless provoked or threatened.

THIS WEEK'S CHECKLIST

1. Store unused flower and vegetable seeds in sealed glass containers in a cool, dry location. Freezing seeds will further extend their life.

2. Sow a winter cover crop of winter oats, rye, wheat and/or hairy vetch on bare soil areas.

3. Bring houseplants in when night temperatures outside drop to the mid-50s.

Garden tips are provided by the Home and Garden Information Center of the Maryland Cooperative Extension . For additional information on these questions, or if you have questions of your own, call the center's hot line at 800-342-2507, or visit its Web site at www.agnr.umd.edu/users/hgic.

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