boy holding a Rhode Island Red hen

You can raise chickens in your backyard; find out more in two classes

by Connie Oswald Stofko “Chickens are easy to take care of, they don’t cost a lot and they can be good pets, said Amanda Henning, Agriculture and Food Systems Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Niagara County. But before you run out and get a bunch of fuzzy chicks, find out what is really involved in raising chickens. Henning, who raises chickens herself, will teach two classes on “Backyard Chickens” in the small meeting room of the 4-H Training Center of…

monarch from Jamestown Audubon

Learn to raise monarch caterpillars in July 16 workshop in Jamestown

Learn how to raise monarch caterpillars to help increase their numbers in a workshop from 6-8 p.m. Thursday, July 16 at the Audubon Nature Center, 1600 Riverside Road, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, NY, and Warren, PA. Mostly an indoor program, it will include a short walk outside to see the milkweed patch, the only food of monarch caterpillars. Depending on the local monarch butterfly population and the success of Audubon’s breeding program, you may be able…

bee flying into hosta flower in Amherst NY

Help bees, butterflies & other pollinators

by Connie Oswald Stofko Whether we want to grow food or enjoy beautiful flowers, pollinators are so important to our gardens that an entire week has been dedicated to them. About 75 percent of all flowering plants rely on animal pollinators, according to Pollinator Partnership, which works to protect the health of these animals that are vital to not only our gardens, but to agriculture and our ecosystem. The group initiated Pollinator Week, held this year from June 15-21, out…

dog and cat with halo from Goodman's Farm Market in Niagara Falls

Animal lovers: Show your feelings with statues & markers for your garden

by Connie Oswald Stofko One marker says “Dog crossing” and another announces “I love my cat.” For gardeners who don’t want to take sides, there’s a marker that says “Bless all the creatures of the garden.” Express your feelings for whatever animal has stolen your heart with garden ornaments from Goodman’s Farm Market, 2227 Cayuga Dr. Ext., Niagara Falls. Maybe your dog joins you in your garden, creating holes in places where you need them, or more likely, where you don’t need them. You can…

cut dead perennials in spring in Buffalo NY

17 reminders for your early spring garden in Western New York

by Connie Oswald Stofko As I sat outside yesterday in shorts and bare feet, it felt as if summer was here to stay. But that’s how it feels every spring in Western New York, and every year our spring weather takes us on a roller coaster ride. The high was in the 70s yesterday, yet you know we’re still going to get freezing temperatures before summer really arrives. Some years we’ve had flakes of snow flying around in the air in May. I know…

Be a citizen scientist in Western New York: Help track squirrels & birds, take a survey & more

You don’t have to have a college degree to help advance scientific learning in plant and nature topics. You can help scientists collect data on a number of local and national projects. Here are a few projects that might interest you. __________ Let scientists know where squirrels are & where they aren’t Take a look around your home, office, school or other location and, whether you see squirrels or not, enter your observations at the Project Squirrel website. Scientists want…

Slow-growing shrubs create low-maintenance garden; backyard is full of perennials

by Connie Oswald Stofko Barb Ciesla and her husband Henry had a front yard with a line of yew bushes straight across the front. She wanted something more interesting and decided to redo the entire front. “I’m 60 years old and I don’t want to do it all again,” Ciesla said. “I don’t want to have to redo it in five years because things got too big. I wanted things that grow very slowly.” She spent the entire winter researching…

Walk among butterflies at Monarch Madness June 8 in Botanical Gardens

Walk through an enclosure filled with monarchs and other native butterflies during Monarch Madness from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, June 8 at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, 2655 South Park Ave., Buffalo. The exhibit will include native plants that the butterflies need to eat, to lay their eggs on and, in short, to survive. Folks from the Eastern Monarch Butterfly Farm in Clarence will be on hand to talk about the butterflies. There will also be…

bee from Buffalo and Erie Botanical Gardens

You can help protect bees from toxins; learn more at Honey Bee Festival

by Connie Oswald Stofko Let the clover and dandelions grow in your lawn. Minimize your pesticide use, too, especially on flowers that are attractive to honey bees. Those are ways gardeners can help with the problem of Colony Collapse Disorder, said Reed Johnson, assistant professor in the Department of Entomology at the Ohio State University. Dr. Johnson will speak at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 3 at the Honey Bee Festival at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, 2655 South…

Get a sneak peek of ‘Innuendo: The Secret Sex Life of Plants,’ then see it live!

by Connie Oswald Stofko Birds do it. Bees do it. And birds and bees help plants do it. In the video below, we bring you a sneak peek of “Innuendo: The Secret Sex Life  of Plants,” the kick-off presentation of Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens’ 2014 Science Café Series. In this entertaining video, David Clark, horticulture instructor at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, shows us some of the strange ways plants create more of themselves. Clark is…