NEW: ‘Sustainable Gardening’ course starts Saturday at Botanical Gardens

bee and hose and compost represent sustainable gardening
Photo illustration by Connie Oswald Stofko

by Connie Oswald Stofko

“Sustainable gardening works with nature so you don’t have to do as much work trying to control pests, diseases and soil issues,” said David Clark, CNLP.

Clark, a nationally known horticulture educator, will teach the new series of horticulture classes on sustainability.

Classes will be taught from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays starting this Saturday, Jan. 22 in the Administration Building at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, 2655 South Park Ave., Buffalo.

These classes are for both new and experienced gardeners. Classes can be taken individually or together as a series. Classes are suitable for students 16 and older.

Register here. Registration closes the Friday before each class.

See all dates below.

Sustainability in your garden

If you want to practice sustainable gardening, Clark suggests that you keep a journal so you remember what problems you had in the previous year. If you know you had a pest problem last July, this year you may be able to take steps to discourage the pests before they arrive. At the very least, you can take time to correctly identify the insect so you know what you’re dealing with— it might not even be a pest.

“This way, you’re not stepping in at the last minute with pesticide,” Clark said.

One way to prevent problems is making sure your soil has what it needs.

“Do a soil test in spring,” he said. “If you don’t know what your soil has, you don’t know what it needs.” It’s not helpful to add fertilizer or lime if your soil doesn’t need it.

You don’t have to plant in rows; alternative ways of planting, such as keyhole gardening, can help you work with nature, he said.

Another aspect of sustainabilty is recycling, reusing and buying local. If you are redoing a brick patio, reuse the bricks for a wall in your landscape, Clark suggested. If you are looking for stone, see if you can find sandstone that was quarried in Medina and other parts of Western New York rather than stone that had to be trucked in over long distances from other states. And consider compost that was produced here, or get animal manure from a local farm and make your own compost.

Sustainable Gardening classes

Sustainable Landscaping Practices – January 22
Using reclaimed water, conserving water, composting, and avoiding runoff are just the tip of landscaping practices that have a sustainable focus. Minimize your impact on the ecosystem around your garden and learn techniques that can limit the human footprint on our environment.
Gardening with Native Plants – February 19
Get back to your local roots with this class focusing on native plants. Native plants are plants that would be originally found in our Western New York area, adapted to our local climate and soil conditions. The class will discover a number of plants that love Buffalo as much as we do and learn about the numerous benefits that come with planting native.
Beneficial Insects and Pollinators – February 26
In this class, learn all about the great helpers in our gardens and how to encourage them to stay. Learn how to identify the good bugs and bad bugs, find ways to provide an attractive place for beneficial insects in your space and get the buzz on bees and other pollinators.
Gardening for Wildlife – March 12
A thriving garden can benefit more than just people. In this class, discover ways that gardeners can provide a habitat for birds and wildlife.
Edible Plants and Composting – March 26
One of the most popular classes with lots of great information! The class will discuss herbs and other edible plants, ideas for garden spaces to cultivate them and even ways to use them. Paired with composting, this class is great for a beginner or for someone who may need some help troubleshooting their compost. Discover different kinds of composting, what works good for “greens” and “browns” and how to create a good balance to yield that amazing black gardening gold.
Naturalistic Gardens – April 23
This new class focusing on garden design takes inspiration from and fosters a connection with nature. Build upon techniques from the Garden Design class, but this class is approachable for those that haven’t taken a prior design class. Get inspired and discover some options for your own space.

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