Reminder: you can ripen tomatoes inside

by Connie Oswald Stofko If you’re worried about damage to your tomatoes from late blight, frost or squirrels, pick your tomatoes when they’re green and bring them inside. The flavor and color is similar to that of a tomato ripened in the field, according to Cornell University. See all the details in this previous article. Late blight Late blight, which affects tomatoes and potatoes, hasn’t yet been identified in Western New York yet this year, but it has been seen…

New England asters

Asters, slimey goo & more in WNY Gardening Matters

Check out the articles in the latest edition of WNY Gardening Matters, produced by the Master Gardeners of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Erie County. “The Beauty of Fall Asters: Native asters come in blues, purples, rose, pinks and white. Besides being beautiful, they are a very important late-season food source for pollinators, butterflies and insects. Ambush Bugs and Assassin Bugs: These two bugs got their names because of the way they kill their prey. Nostoc: What’s slimey, disgusting and gooey?…

flower on common milkweed in Amherst NY

For butterflies & fragrance, choose common milkweed!

by Connie Oswald Stofko If you like butterflies, you probably have a kind of milkweed called butterfly flower (Asclepias tuberosa). You may even have swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata). Consider adding common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) to that mix. Not only is it a plant that monarchs love, it gets a pretty flower– and it’s fragrant! Dan Murak pointed out the fragrance this summer when I visited his landscape, which was shared on the Snyder-CleveHill Garden View. Another thing I like about common milkweed is that…

egg mass on boxwood leaf

Bad news for boxwood: box tree moth has arrived in WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko An invasive moth that damages and can kill boxwoods has arrived in Western New York. The box tree moth has been identified in Niagara County, said John Farfaglia, extension educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Niagara County. My sister in Cheektowaga has noticed damage to boxwoods in her area. That was probably caused by the box tree moth, too, Farfaglia said. This invasive pest “is expected to spread,” he said. If you haven’t seen it in…

illustration of sparrow eating lettuce and kale

Help a reader: birds eating lettuce

by Connie Oswald Stofko I received this question from a reader: Just wondering if anyone else has had sparrows eating their lettuce, Swiss chard or other greens. I planted a second crop fairly recently in planters and the sparrows act as if they are at a salad bar. They aren’t eating the seeds, just the leaves, picked them to pieces! I’ve just recently covered them with old windows that I use for cold frames and am hoping this stops them. I…

squirrel closeup for featured image by Stofko

Squirrel tips:How to keep them from digging up your potted plants in WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko We’re getting into the time when squirrels start to store acorns for the winter. I don’t mind when the squirrels stash their hoard in my lawn, but I do object when they dig up a container that holds perennials. Here’s a tip from Lyn Chimera of Lessons from Nature: To keep squirrels and chipmunks from digging up potted plants, cover the top of the soil with a layer of pea gravel after the container is planted….

plumbago in Williamsville NY

Add color now to your late-season garden in Western New York

by Connie Oswald Stofko “There’s a lot of color here,” said Mark Yadon, vice president at Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses, as he surveyed the tables full of flowering perennials and annuals at Mischler’s. As you look around your garden in late summer, do you still see exciting color? If not, try these tips. Plant perennials that flower now Go to garden centers such as Mischler’s now and you’ll see many perennials in bloom. Some of these weren’t blooming in late May…

Seed Share at Hamburg Library

Get free seeds at downtown library, Hamburg branch

by Connie Oswald Stofko You can get free seeds at libraries in Erie County: Central Library, 1 Lafayette Square, Buffalo, and the Hamburg Public Library, 102 Buffalo St., Hamburg. These are in addition to the WNY Seed Library at the Audubon Branch Library, which we talked about previously. The organizers at all these seed libraries hope that after you have borrowed seeds, you will save some seeds from the plants you grew and take them back to the seed library…

dried hops flowers or cones

Tonawanda gardener shares the basics of growing hops

by Connie Oswald Stofko You may be a gardener who knows a lot about plants or a connoisseur who knows a lot about craft beers, but what do you know about hops? I learned a lot when I visited the gardens of Matt and Tashia Tribo on the Ken-Ton Garden Tour in July. Hops plants are easy to maintain; you don’t have to water them at all, Matt said. You do have to trim them back at the bottom so…

caterpillar of gypsy moth

Did caterpillars eat leaves on your tree? What you can do now

Do you have trees in your yard that were defoliated during the gypsy moth caterpillar outbreak this year? Here’s what you need to know. Outlook for your tree Most healthy trees can withstand a couple years of leaf loss from caterpillar damage, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Long-term damage depends on the type of tree as well as how much defoliation took place. Hardwoods  A healthy leaf-bearing tree should have grown new leaves by now, though leaves…