GARDEN Q

The Baltimore Sun

The fruit trees in the catalogs look great, but the companies ship the trees "bare-root." Will those trees grow well, since they have been out of the soil so long?

They'll flourish, provided their roots are not allowed to dry out. It is standard practice to ship young fruit trees when dormant. Trees are packaged carefully to keep moisture around the roots.

Time the shipping for a good time to plant. If your soil is unworkable (frozen or too wet) when the trees arrive, and you can't plant right away, keep the roots moist and store the trees in a cool location.

Would you recommend using horse manure on my vegetable garden? I have a free source.

Horse, cattle, rabbit, poultry and sheep manure make good fertilizer and soil amendments to improve the soil structure. The most important thing to remember is that fresh manure must be fully composted (well-aged) before it is applied directly to plants. Uncomposted manure will burn plants.

Fall application and incorporation into the soil are recommended for fresh manure. Horse manure contains lots of weed seeds, so plan to control weeds.

CHECKLIST:

* Request a desired shipping date when you order plants from catalogs.

* Check for leaks or cracks in pesticide containers, especially those that are old or exposed to temperature extremes. Call the manufacturer's phone number listed on the product for assistance with any problems.

Ellen Nibali, a horticulture consultant, works at Maryland Cooperative Extension's Home and Garden Information Center, and Jon Traunfeld is the director of the Home and Garden Information Center. The center offers free gardening information. Call 800-342-2507 or e-mail plant and pest questions at hgic.umd.edu.

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