Salt marsh hay is good for your garden lifestyles salemnews.com electricity usage calculator kwh

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Its advantages in your garden? It resists rotting, it doesn’t pack down and smother plants, and it’s not weedy because seeds never sprout. Salt marsh hay requires the saltwater tidal changes to germinate and grow, and your garden isn’t a salt marsh. You can find salt marsh hay at garden centers through the Northeast. Buy it early because it disappears from the market by late fall.

Q: Now that summer is coming to an end, I see lots of special offers for sale plants I would like to grow. Is it safe to buy these plants this late — or are they really just soon-to-be-dead leftovers? How late can I continue to buy them into the fall and still plant them safely this year?

A: Bargain plants — and midsummer planting — are easier in the fall when rain is more predictable and temperatures are cooler. Late season planting is safe but caution is necessary. It’s a temptation: At bargain prices, you can afford to try some new varieties.

There are bargains out there! Most nurseries don’t have the necessary space to carry them over until next year, so they can be great bargains when put on sale. Do your homework. It’s not worth any sale price if it’s a dying plant. If possible, buy locally so you can inspect the plant. Whether they are perennials in pots or burlap wrapped trees, has the seller taken good care of this stock all this summer? Were they watered regularly and cleaned of dead and dying leaves and flowers as needed? Were they protected from extreme sun and wind?

When you get them home, be prepared to plant promptly. Have the space dug and the hose nearby. If you bought a tree, be prepared to stake the tree for at least the first year. Plan to continue watering new stock right up until the ground freezes.

Buy your plants as early in the fall as you can; the root systems must grow before the ground freezes, if they are to live through their first New England winter. In the spring, you’ll have some wonderful new plants already in the ground that you bought at bargain prices.

Q: I have what I believe is called a pear tree, although I believe it is because it is the shape, not that it bears fruit, but is in the shape of a pear. They are somewhat common in my area, but mine seems to not take on the shape. Would you suggest professional care and pruning, or can you give me other insight to achieve the shape?

A: Can’t tell from your description, but could it possibly be a Bartlett pear tree? They are very common around town as they are easy to care for and fast-growing. They do have tiny "pears," about three-quarters of an inch long that are not edible, but the birds and squirrels love them! (They are one of the last fresh foods a bird/squirrel sees after the first snowstorm.)

If you are collecting your seeds and plan on planting them, you’ll need to stratify the seeds over the winter by refrigerating them, or collect and plant in the spring, or buy a young tree. They quickly grow very long, strong tap roots, so choose the location carefully. Stake the young tree for early support, and mulch well to conserve moisture.

The tree is a native of North America, growing 20 to 40 feet high. Centuries ago, liquid distilled from the bark was thought to cure syphilis and rheumatism, but this use has been disputed. Now it is often used to scent cheap soaps and perfumes.

As lumber, it’s a beautiful wood to work, and has a spicy smell that lasts for many years in the finished project. Another name for the wood is cinnamon wood. This strong scent also makes it desirable as a wood for smoking meats and sausages.