hose slowly watering plant

Rainfall has been below normal in WNY, so keep watering

  by Connie Oswald Stofko In the past few weeks, I’ve seen clouds, heard thunder and even felt a few drops of rain in my Amherst garden. (I think I counted a total of 13 drops.) It’s not unusual to have a dry spell like this, but you need to remember to keep watering your garden. At the Buffalo Niagara International Airport in Cheektowaga, they measured just .11 inch of rain since May 23, said meteorologist David Thomas. (I didn’t…

rows of plants for sale

Weather looks warm enough for planting; get 4 spring planting tips

by Connie Oswald Stofko After a cold April, it finally feels like spring, and conditions look good for planting in Western New York. While frost can’t be ruled out completely, the chance of frost is “very, very small,” said Jim Mitchell, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Buffalo. Even the deeper valleys in Allegany, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties should be fine because the rivers keep them warm at night. But besides frost, gardeners also have to be concerned about…

tree still has leaves in spring

Will tree that didn’t drop its leaves in winter survive?

by Connie Oswald Stofko I was chatting with one of my subscribers at Plantasia and she mentioned that she has seen trees– Japanese maples as well as other trees– that didn’t lose their leaves over the winter. The leaves are brown, but still attached. “I’m scared because the trees don’t have buds yet,” she said. I noticed the same thing in my neighborhood, so I talked to John Farfaglia, extension educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Niagara County. Don’t worry,…

plant sprout in spring by Stofko in Amherst

Early bird may get only muddy boots– don’t rush your garden

With all this cold, snowy weather, it seems like spring will never get here. Don’t worry; milder temperatures are on their way. But don’t rush into your garden at the first whiff of warm weather. “Be patient, take your time, and take time for your garden to get ready for you,” said Peggy Koppmann in “This Month in the Garden,” one of the three articles in this month’s edition of WNY Gardening Matters. “Remember, the early bird may get nothing more than…

white shadows caused by trees and snow

‘Snow shadows’ are oddities of winter

  by Stephen Vermette Department of Geography & Planning, SUNY Buffalo State   After a light morning snowfall covered the ground, my wife noticed an interesting pattern in our front yard. The trees appeared to cast white shadows! This is just one kind of phenomenon I call snow shadows. There are many different types of these winter oddities, and some stretch into another season. Linear snow shadows The linear snow shadows that my wife spotted were caused by ground temperature….

milkweed seeds

Weather garden: focus on wind, rain

by Stephen Vermette, Department of Geography & Planning, SUNY Buffalo State In a previous issue, I introduced you to a weather garden, which vividly demonstrates how sunlight, temperature, wind and rain affect plants in different ways. It does this through the choice of plants, as well as through fun and useful ornaments such as thermometers, wind vanes and rain gauges. That first article focused on sunlight. In the second article, I focused on temperature. Today we will look at the…

map of climate zones in Western New York

Our growing season is longer: What gardeners need to know about climate change in WNY

  by Connie Oswald Stofko Our growing season in Western New York is longer than it used to be– two weeks longer than it was in 1965, according to Stephen Vermette, professor of geography in the Department of Geography & Planning at Buffalo State College. Now the growing season starts about a week earlier in spring and lasts about a week longer in autumn. This is just one of the findings of Vermette’s research into how climate change is affecting…

hose in autumn garden

Don’t give up on your garden– keep watering!

by Connie Oswald Stofko Our summer was so wet, you may have fallen out of the habit of watering your plants. But the last few days have been hot and dry, and we may have a little more summer-like weather on the way. And even when our weather becomes more autumn-like, you need to keep watering! Don’t give up on your garden now! Here’s why: You probably have wonderful plants in your garden that you’ve been enjoying this summer– and…

savor the beauty poster copyright Stofko

Thought for the day: savor the beauty

by Connie Oswald Stofko Well, it’s official. This was the coldest February on record in Western New York. It’s been a tough winter. Some of us got seven feet of snow in November alone. Even areas of Western New York that don’t normally get much snow have two feet or more on the ground. People are tired of shoveling, of trying to walk on snowy sidewalks, of driving through snow. Then there’s the cold. Day after day of below zero…

ice sculpture with ribbons in Western New York

Make the most of these low temperatures by creating molded ice centerpieces

by Connie Oswald Stofko The winter I heard about making colored spheres out of ice, I thought it was a great idea. But I waited an entire year before I could try it outside because the previous winter had been too mild. Temperatures would repeatedly bounce up above freezing. The forecast never seemed to call for enough below-freezing days in a row to make the effort worthwhile. Then last winter it was finally cold enough to experiment. I was able…