Rescued turtle needs to be re-rescued

Garden Q&A

October 20, 2007|By Ellen Nibali and David Clement

What is this huge turtle I found in my yard? The shell is 12 inches long, 8 inches high, and light brown with black squares. We took the turtle to the state park and let it go near water so it wouldn't get hit by a car.

The African leopard tortoise you found was undoubtedly someone's pet. This animal can grow to 20 inches. Try to retrieve the tortoise and contact your neighbors to find out who lost it. Also, alert park staff, so they can be on the lookout for the tortoise and help save it. If the tortoise is not found and brought indoors, it will not survive the winter.

The nurseries have some good bargain plants now. Should I take advantage of the sales?

Provided plants were reliably watered all summer and are free of disease, they should be healthy. If roots are compacted inside the pot, either wash off soil and feather roots so they radiate outward or make vertical cuts in encircling roots to prevent girdling.

Before planting in dry soil, dig your planting hole in advance, fill with water and let the water saturate surrounding soil. Then plant and water deeply to supplement rainfall until the ground freezes.


Plant daffodil and tulips bulbs in a sunny, well-drained spot. Cover bulbs with some type of wire-mesh material if voles and squirrels have been a problem in the past.

Tropical water lilies begin to die in October. Don't try to save them; they are very difficult to overwinter inside. Remove all dead plant parts that would decompose in a pond and use up oxygen that fish need.

Ellen Nibali, horticulture consultant, works at Maryland Cooperative Extension's Home and Garden Information Center, and David Clement is the regional specialist. The center offers Maryland residents free gardening information. Call the center's "hotline" at 800-342-2507 or e-mail plant and pest questions through the Send a Question feature at

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