lettuce and climate change and tomato illustration in Western New York

Impact of wildfire smoke on veggies should be minor; tips on climate change

by Connie Oswald Stofko Gardeners worried about how the smoke from the recent Canadian wildfires would affect vegetable plants in Western New York, but “The good news is the impact will be minimal at worst,” according to Steve Reiners, professor in Horticulture at Cornell University, Cornell AgriTech. Smoke-filled skies decrease sunlight and reduce photosynthesis, but only to a small degree and temporarily, Reiners said. Despite the shade, there was still enough diffused light penetrating the smoke to maintain growth.  Smoke…

photo of food waste turning into compost

‘National Learn About Composting Day’ is May 29, but you can learn today

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chautauqua County’s Master Gardeners are marking “National Learn About Composting Day,” which falls on May 29, by sharing great composting tips. There are many good reasons to compost. You save money by making rich, organic soil fertilizer. You reduce erosion. You conserve and replenish groundwater. And you keep organic material out of landfills. Organic material sent to a landfill creates methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to the negative impacts of our environment. In his recent…

Hurry to apply to be Climate Steward in Erie, Niagara Counties

Did you ever wish there was a program like Master Gardener Volunteers, but for climate? There is now! The new Cornell Climate Stewards program will train volunteers, who then work on local climate change projects. The statewide program provides intensive education on climate science, communications, and potential local solutions. Volunteers can support ongoing initiatives and local conservation projects as well as create their own project. Cornell Cooperative Extension in Niagara County and Erie County will hold trainings for Cornell Climate…

pink and blue hydrangeas in Western New York

Shrubs, container gardening & climate to be topics at Master Gardener Ed Day

The Cornell Cooperative Extension of Erie County Master Gardener Program will host its Education Day from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 11 at Classics V Banquet Center, 2425 Niagara Falls Blvd, Amherst. Speakers and topics are: The event includes a hot buffet lunch, beverages and snacks. The day begins with registration from 8:30 – 9 a.m. The first of two morning sessions start at 9 a.m. The full hot buffet lunch will be followed by an afternoon presentation…

Climate change illustration

Two WNY communities get Climate Smart certification

The City of North Tonawanda and the Village of Lancaster recently achieved bronze certification in New York State’s Climate Smart Communities Certification program. Click on the links to see the steps that the City of North Tonawanda and the Village of Lancaster took to receive the certification. In addition, the City of Buffalo was re-certified bronze by completing additional actions to mitigate and adapt to climate change. It was first certified in 2019. There are now 105 certified Climate Smart Communities (PDF) in New York State….

waterfall in Glen Park in Williamsville New York

You can vote on Environmental Bond Act: clean air, clean water, green jobs

by Connie Oswald Stofko Do you want New York State to borrow money for projects to help residents have clean air, clear water and green jobs? When you vote in the upcoming election, you’ll see that as New York State’s Proposition 1. Text of Proposition 1 This is the text you will see on your ballot: “To address and combat the impact of climate change and damage to the environment, the ‘Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond…

plants in winter in Amherst NY

What you need to know about plant hardiness zones in Western New York

See updated information in the Nov. 21, 2023 article: Your Western New York garden may be in a new plant hardiness zone by Connie Oswald Stofko When you’re buying perennials (or trees and shrubs), you want plants that will survive the winter and come back the next year. What plants will work for you depends on where you live. The 2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is the standard that helps you determine which plants are most likely to thrive…

monarch flying off swamp milkweed

Why you should bother with Earth Day in WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko Those are just three changes that I’ve seen in Western New York since the first Earth Day in 1970. These changes didn’t come quickly. They didn’t happen easily. But they happened. They happened because people cared. And a person did something. They spoke up. They changed other people’s minds. They changed their own habits. Take the example of trash. It used to be common to toss your pop can out the car window when you were…

monarch flying off swamp milkweed

Monarchs are in danger; how you can help in Western New York

by Connie Oswald Stofko Monarchs should be on the endangered species list, said Jay Burney, executive director of the Pollinator Conservation Association (PCA), based in Western New York. For years there has been a massive decline in monarch butterflies, but last year the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) declined to add the monarch to the endangered species list, Burney said. The FWS said there will be a yearly review and the monarch will stay in the running for…

cardinal in snow by Stofko

Where have the birds gone & what can gardeners do about it?

by Connie Oswald Stofko Have you noticed that you haven’t had as many birds at your bird feeder lately? The cause is simple: lack of snow. Something you probably didn’t notice is that the number of birds in North America is down by almost 3 billion birds since 1970. That’s a big concern, but there are things that gardeners can do to help. No birds at your feeder? A reader left this comment on a previous article: I live in…