compost in lid

Tip: How to keep worms in your compost pile

by Connie Oswald Stofko I like to have worms in my compost bin to help break down the plant matter that will turn into rich compost. When I harvest my finished (or partly finished) compost from the bottom of my bin, it’s full of worms. I don’t need the worms in my gardens or containers; I’d prefer to keep them in my compost bin, but I don’t want to take the worms out one by one. Here’s a quick way…

wrapping paper

Before you buy wrapping paper, consider this: Can you compost it?

by Connie Oswald Stofko Those glossy wrapping papers are so pretty when they’re on a package, but what happens to the gift wrap after the package is opened? You might think that adding wrapping paper to your compost pile is a great way to use up the paper, but think again. Some wrapping paper can actually contaminate your compost with heavy metals– and that could affect your garden, too. Many kinds of gift wrap contain heavy metals such as lead,…

autumn leaves on grass

It’s leaf season! 9 tips for using autumn leaves in your garden

by Connie Oswald Stofko We enjoyed many weeks of beautiful autumn color in Western New York this year! Now it’s time for the leaves to fall. The bad news is that our recent strong winds brought down branches as well as leaves. I hope you didn’t sustain any damage. The good news is that the fallen leaves give us things to do in our landscapes at this time of year. And those leaves can be used in so many ways!…

Seed-starting tips & more help from Master Gardeners

You started some seeds inside and watched them grow into healthy seedlings. Soon after, they were dead. This sudden death is “damping off,” and it can be prevented. Find out how to avoid damping off in an article by Carol Ann Harlos in this month’s edition of WNY Gardening Matters. It’s produced by the Master Gardeners of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Erie County. In addition to the article on damping off, in this edition of WNY Gardening Matters you will…

Eastern coyote

Coyotes: Another reason to use a covered compost bin

When you started your compost pile, you may have worried about attracting mice and rats. But here’s a new concern: coyotes. Eastern coyotes are well adapted to suburban and even some urban environments. They are becoming a more common sight to gardeners in Western New York, and you don’t want to attract them to your yard. One thing gardeners can do is to enclose compost piles so coyotes can’t get at them. That’s a tip from the New York State…

plastic bottle protecting sprout

Tips on deer, composting & more for Western New York

  by Connie Oswald Stofko I am fortunate that so many Western New Yorkers share gardening tips with me. People often share tips with me after I give a talk. Unfortunately, I am so busy scribbling down notes about the tips themselves that I don’t always get the name of the person who shared the tip. My apologies. Today I’ll share a few of the tips I’ve accumulated. If you have a tip that worked for you, you can share…

orchid dyed blue

Don’t be misled by gardening myths; learn more at Plantasia

by Connie Oswald Stofko “I finally got fed up with the baloney I saw on the Internet,” said Carolyn Stanko, associate professor of horticulture and biology at Niagara County Community College and a senior CNLP. She’d see posts of bogus gardening information, but other readers would think it was true and share it. “I finally had to stand up and preach the truth!” she said. She will help you separate gardening fact from fiction when she presents “Garden Myth Busting –…

wrapping paper to compost

What wrapping paper can you compost and which will contaminate your soil?

by Connie Oswald Stofko It’s so exciting to see beautifully wrapped gifts, but what happens to all of that wrapping paper once the gifts are opened? Can your compost it? You can compost some kinds of wrapping paper, but many kinds contain heavy metals such as lead, cadmium and arsenic that will contaminate your compost, said John Farfaglia, extension educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Niagara County. “Those heavy metals don’t break down and could end up in your vegetable garden,”…

front yard on Garden Walk Buffalo

Tip on planting in tiny yard; get more tips at Garden Walk Buffalo this weekend

by Connie Oswald Stofko Rosemary Lyons has an ingenious way to squeeze plants into the flagstone patio that takes up all of her tiny yard. One place where there aren’t any pavers is where the wrought iron fence is set into the ground. Lyons set some bricks on each side of the fence, then filled the area around the fence with fresh soil and lots of compost. There was enough room to plant purple pole beans, and the fence was…

shredded paper for compost

Save yourself some cleanup: Line kitchen scrap container with shredded paper & add to compost

by Connie Oswald Stofko A lot us of keep a container in the kitchen so we can collect potato peels, orange rinds, tea bags and other scraps for our compost pile. I use an old plastic container that has a cracked lid. Your container might be as simple as a used coffee can. You don’t need anything fancy. Here’s my big confession: I don’t like to wash out the container. I mean, you’re basically using it to collect garbage. It’s…