birch bark

Find better alternatives to silver birch in WNY Gardening Matters

People love the beauty of silver birch trees (Betula pendula) but have realized that variety is short lived and susceptible to the birch borer. Find other native alternatives that are more interesting in this article by Lyn Chimera. It’s in the current issue of WNY Gardening Matters, produced by the Master Gardeners of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Erie County. “Remember, if you want to plant a tree always check for an appropriate native first,” Chimera said. Other articles in this…

brown marmorated stink bug near window

These stink bugs won’t harm you or house; may damage plants

by Connie Oswald Stofko Gardeners are once again beginning to notice brown marmorated stink bugs flying and crawling in their homes. These invasive pests are looking for a place to spend the winter. They don’t pose any harm to humans and they won’t damage your home. However, they are ugly and annoying in your house. They make a loud buzzing when they fly and a big thump when they land. When you squish them, they stink. More important, they feed on…

raised garden beds keep out deer

How to have a productive garden when you’ve got deer & kids

by Connie Oswald Stofko When Lindsay and Timothy Dzielski had their garden in the backyard, the deer ate everything. The groundhog and squirrels got a share, too. The garden also competed for space with all of the kids’ toys. So in March, when things suddenly closed down because of the pandemic, they tried something new. They built raised beds in a dead space along their driveway. “This is how you enjoy gardening while you enjoy wildlife,” Timothy said. “People never…

late blight on tomatoes

Protect tomatoes; late blight detected in Chautauqua County

by Connie Oswald Stofko Late blight, which affects tomatoes and potatoes, is present in Chautauqua County and is expected it to be found fairly soon in Cattaraugus County and Pennsylvania, according to the Cornell Cooperative Extension Vegetable Program. Given the current weather patterns, there is real risk that late blight has already traveled on the storm fronts to new places.  You may not be upset if you lose a few tomato plants, but this disease spreads easily and can be very…

chipmunk

How to deal with chipmunks in your garden

by Connie Oswald Stofko I’ve been hearing a lot of complaints lately from gardeners who are having problems with chipmunks. I talked with John Farfaglia, extension educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Niagara County, and my first question was whether we have more chipmunks in Western New York. “We have been getting occasional calls on chipmunks for many years, so I don’t think their populations have increased significantly,” he said. But they can be a problem for gardeners. “If their populations build…

Skirmish over Queen Anne’s lace leads to bigger discussions

by Connie Oswald Stofko It all started about two weeks ago when an anonymous neighbor complained to the Town of Amherst about the front lawn of Walter and Nan Simpson. The Simpsons mow their lawn, but when an interesting plant pops up, such as Queen Anne’s lace, they mow around it. The neighbor didn’t like that. When a town inspector showed up, he deemed the Queen Anne’s lace to be a noxious weed, according to the town code. Since the…

seed packet

If you get seeds in the mail from China that you didn’t order, don’t plant them

If you get seeds in the mail from China or other countries that you didn’t order, don’t open the seed packet and don’t plant the seeds. Consumers in the United States, Canada, Australia and the European Union have been getting unsolicited packets of seeds from China and other countries. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is investigating. At this point, it seems this is a “brushing scam,” where online sellers create fake orders to…

Asian longhorned beetle in pool

Look for signs of two invasive dangers to trees in WNY

Western New Yorkers should watch for signs of oak wilt and Asian longhorned beetles (ALB), two invasive dangers to trees. Neither has been found yet in Western New York, but if either is here, early detection could help stop the spread. You might also begin to notice tar spot, which is common on maples here. It’s ugly, but doesn’t damage the tree. Oak wilt Oak wilt disease is a fungal disease that affects both red and white oaks, but red…

stages of Gypsy moth

Insect damage? It might be gypsy moth caterpillar or fourlined plant bug

by Connie Oswald Stofko You may have seen damage to your plants recently and not known what was causing the damage. Here are two possibilities: gypsy moth caterpillar and fourlined plant bug. The worst is over for this year, but you should be on the lookout for them next year. Below is some general information on Gypsy moth caterpillars and fourlined plant bugs. If you have more questions about damage to plants or if you want an identification of an…

Japanese beetle

Check your plants now for Japanese beetles

“We are getting reports from some gardeners that Japanese beetles are showing up now,” said John Farfaglia, extension educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Niagara County. The Japanese beetle, which is native to Japan, is a highly destructive plant pest here. In Japan, natural predators keep the population in check. Hand picking works well in small gardens but must be repeated frequently, Farfaglia said. Neem oil is also an option for control. See more details in our previous article here. Also…