broom leaves on perennial bed in Western New York

How to mulch ground cover, plus 4 more tips for autumn leaves in WNY

  by Lyn Chimera of Lessons From Nature  Many people dread raking up autumn leaves, but you should look forward to it. Leaves are a free resource for your landscape, a bonus from nature. Don’t throw them away! Here are five tips on using autumn leaves in different parts of your landscape. Leaves on the lawn If there is a light covering of leaves on your lawn, you can mow right over them and leave the chopped-up leaves on the lawn. They…

compost makes garden beds beautiful Hamburg NY

Hidden ‘factory’ is what makes this garden gorgeous

  by Connie Oswald Stofko My photos, taken in harsh afternoon sunlight, don’t do justice to the landscape of Molly and Douglas Mailey, which I saw on the Hamburg Garden Walk in July. Molly has lush and colorful garden beds. Just by looking, you may be able to pick up on some of the techniques she uses to add beauty to her landscape. She has shady areas, and chooses her plants well to fit the lighting conditions. Her garden beds curve and are…

composting poster 2018

Compost poster contest seeks entries by Nov. 5; prize is $500

The International Compost Awareness Week Committee is offering a prize of $500 to the winner of the poster contest promoting International Compost Awareness Week, which will be held May 5 -11, 2019. The theme for the poster will be “Cool the Climate – Compost!” The contest is open to anyone from ten years old to adult. There are three contest divisions: grades 3-7, grades 8-12, and college – adult. The best from each division will be entered into the final contest. The…

plastic bottle protecting sprout

Tips on deer, composting & more for Western New York

  by Connie Oswald Stofko I am fortunate that so many Western New Yorkers share gardening tips with me. People often share tips with me after I give a talk. Unfortunately, I am so busy scribbling down notes about the tips themselves that I don’t always get the name of the person who shared the tip. My apologies. Today I’ll share a few of the tips I’ve accumulated. If you have a tip that worked for you, you can share…

the Earth Machine Composter for sale in Erie County

Rain barrels, compost bins on sale in Erie County; order by May 25

A sale of rain barrels and compost bins is being held by the Erie County Department of Environment and Planning, the City of Buffalo and the Western New York Stormwater Coalition. Prices are 50 percent off retail. The deadline to order is May 25. Quantities are limited. You have to pick up your items on June 7. The pick-up sites are in Buffalo and Tonawanda. See more details here.  This is the third year the organizations have held the sale. Some…

orchid dyed blue

Don’t be misled by gardening myths; learn more at Plantasia

by Connie Oswald Stofko “I finally got fed up with the baloney I saw on the Internet,” said Carolyn Stanko, associate professor of horticulture and biology at Niagara County Community College and a senior CNLP. She’d see posts of bogus gardening information, but other readers would think it was true and share it. “I finally had to stand up and preach the truth!” she said. She will help you separate gardening fact from fiction when she presents “Garden Myth Busting –…

wrapping paper to compost

What wrapping paper can you compost and which will contaminate your soil?

by Connie Oswald Stofko It’s so exciting to see beautifully wrapped gifts, but what happens to all of that wrapping paper once the gifts are opened? Can your compost it? You can compost some kinds of wrapping paper, but many kinds contain heavy metals such as lead, cadmium and arsenic that will contaminate your compost, said John Farfaglia, extension educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Niagara County. “Those heavy metals don’t break down and could end up in your vegetable garden,”…

oak leaf on pine needles

Take steps now to have great soil next year

  by Connie Oswald Stofko A couple of simple tests can tell you what steps you have to take to improve your soil– or let you know that you are already on the right track. There are three kinds of tests you might do, said John Farfaglia, extension educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Niagara County. The first is a pH test to find out how acidic or alkaline your soil is. Farfaglia recommends that every gardener do this test…

shed flowers vegetable garden in Niagara Falls

Cool ideas from a garden on Niagara Falls garden walk include keyhole garden

by Connie Oswald Stofko “We want people to come back downtown,” said Ruth Cooper of 12th St., Niagara Falls. “It’s safe here.” That was the message of the Black Squirrel Garden Walk, held July 23 as part of Garden Walk of Niagara Falls, USA. (The Black Squirrel Garden Walk is named that for the black squirrels that you can see in Niagara Falls but aren’t common elsewhere in other parts of Western New York.) The event included a garden walk…

shredded paper for compost

Save yourself some cleanup: Line kitchen scrap container with shredded paper & add to compost

by Connie Oswald Stofko A lot us of keep a container in the kitchen so we can collect potato peels, orange rinds, tea bags and other scraps for our compost pile. I use an old plastic container that has a cracked lid. Your container might be as simple as a used coffee can. You don’t need anything fancy. Here’s my big confession: I don’t like to wash out the container. I mean, you’re basically using it to collect garbage. It’s…