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volcano mulch illustration muffin and donut

Reminder: no mulch volcanoes

by Connie Oswald Stofko It seems to be the start of volcano season in Western New York. Mulch volcanoes (those neat, cone-shaped piles of mulch at the base of trees) are showing up again. They may look nice to you, but they’re not good for the trees, according to garden experts. Mulch volcanoes can slowly kill trees. Check out our previous article on mulch volcanoes to find out why you shouldn’t use mulch volcanoes and how you can properly mulch…

perennial garden in Lancaster NY

How to start a perennial garden

by Connie Oswald Stofko If you want to start a new garden with perennials, you could plop some random plants into the ground and hope for the best. But putting some thought into what you’d like your garden to be will make you happier in the end, said Jen Weber, vice president and manager of Mike Weber Greenhouses, 42 French Rd., West Seneca. (They are now open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m….

tree roots

Do trees communicate, plus other Arbor Day news

by Connie Oswald Stofko Arbor Day is April 30, and it’s a time to think about trees. Do trees communicate? It appears that trees communicate and cooperate with one another. This fascinating article by The New York Times describes how mycorrhizas–networks of fungi in the soil–can pass carbon, water, nutrients, alarm signals and hormones from tree to tree. Use trees to save energy Trees that are situated in the proper location can shade your house in summer. In winter, trees…

garden along bike path

Volunteers needed for ‘bike gardens’ along Erie Canalway Trail

Volunteers are needed to help maintain the gardens in a seven-mile section of the Erie Canalway Trail that has been adopted by Sandy Guzzetti and her husband Mike through the adopt-a-trail program of Parks & Trails New York. “Our unique approach to the trail is to plant gardens and put bike art in each trailhead/road intersection,” said Guzzetti, team leader. “No other place on the 338 miles of trail across New York State does this.” The gardens are attractive and they…

colorful spring garden

How to create a beautiful spring garden in Western New York

_____ by Connie Oswald Stofko “It changes every day,” said Tom Homme of his spring garden in Pendleton. There’s never a lull in the landscape of Tom Homme and his wife Darcie because he has spent the past 11 years working to create gardens that are interesting in all four seasons. We got a peek at what makes his winter garden attractive in this previous article. You will be able to see the Hommes’ garden in person this summer on Open…

don't use lawn fertilizer with phosphorus

Don’t use phosphorus on your lawn; ‘Look for the Zero’

To keep our Western New York waterways clean, go phosphorus-free when using lawn fertilizer and “Look for the Zero.” On a fertilizer bag, you’ll see three numbers. The number in the middle is for phosphorus. For lawns, choose a fertilizer that has a zero in the middle. Excess phosphorus is a threat to many New York waterbodies, triggering algae blooms and sometimes rendering waters unswimmable and unfishable, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). That’s why…

Hawaiian purple sweet potato with shoots

How to grow dozens of sweet potatoes from one

by Connie Oswald Stofko by Connie Oswald Stofko From one sweet potato, you can sprout several plants, and you can get as many as six to 10 potatoes from one plant. You can eat the leaves, too! Cheryl Harris, a gardener who grows an amazing variety and amount of vegetables on her double lot in Buffalo, tells us how to grow these tasty and nutritious vegetables. You’ll be able to visit her this year during two events: the East Side…

red lily leaf beetles and lilies

It’s time to check for red lily leaf beetle in WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko by Connie Oswald Stofko Gardeners in Western New York have started to notice the red lily leaf beetle, which can devastate your lilies (true lilies, but not daylilies). I’ve written about red lily leaf beetles before; see details here. Last year we shared a couple home remedies that might keep red lily leaf beetles away. One is diatomaceous earth and the other is a homemade spray. There aren’t any controlled studies that look at how effective…

leaves with beech leaf disease

New tree disease affects beeches

Beech leaf disease is a new tree disease that has been identified in Erie County. It is listed on the “Top 10 Tree Insects & Diseases,” an article you will find in the newest edition of WNY Gardening Matters. Beech leaf disease Beech leaf disease (BLD) affects and kills both native and ornamental beech tree species. BLD was just discovered in recent years and there is a lot we still don’t know about this disease, according to the New York…

dandelion with seeds blowing

Stop weeds before they emerge with corn gluten meal

by Connie Oswald Stofko Stop weeds before they even pop out of the ground–that’s what pre-emergent herbicides do. Pre-emergent herbicides act on seeds at the germination stage. Corn gluten meal is an organic pre-emergent herbicide. There are synthetic pre-emergent herbicides, too. These can work well on grass seed and broad-leaf seeds. However, like every herbicide, they don’t kill every type of weed. They don’t kill existing weeds. And they don’t work on plants with tap roots, such as dandelions. They…

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