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 at…

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…

5 tips to make the most of autumn leaves in your garden

by Connie Oswald Stofko Do you know that there are people who essentially throw their leaves away? They rake them out to the curb and wait for someone to haul them away. I find that amazing because those autumn leaves are a valuable commodity for your garden– yet they’re free! Here are five tips on making the most of autumn leaves. Tip #1: Use leaves as mulch around your perennials to help them survive the winter. If we have a…

Kate Johnson at Dairy Ag Festival Springville NY

Got clay? Don’t want to dig? Want a new bed over lawn? Try lasagna gardening in autumn

by Connie Oswald Stofko It’s autumn, and here’s an outside project you can do today: create a lasagna garden. Lasagna gardening is a method where you apply material to your garden bed in layers, like in a lasagna. Lasagna gardening has several advantages: You don’t have to till or dig your garden bed. The technique works with clay or other poor soil. You can create a new bed over lawn. It’s not labor intensive. It’s organic. You don’t have to…

video on how to protect herb garden with leaves

Did you rake leaves this weekend? Use them to protect your herb garden

by Connie Oswald Stofko If you’re like the folks in my neighborhood, you were raking up those dry autumn leaves during the beautiful Western New York weather this weekend. But I hope you didn’t set those leaves out to the curb just yet. Instead, use those leaves to prolong the productivity of your herb garden. Caesandra Seawell, garden manager at the garden at City Honors School in Buffalo, also known as Pelion Community Garden, shows us how they use a…

Learn how to compost indoors using worms– & get worms!– in workshop at Reinstein Woods

by Connie Oswald Stofko Learn how to start composting indoors with red wriggler worms in a workshop at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 30 at Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve & Environmental Education Center, 93 Honorine Drive, Depew. The workshop is for both children and adults. You can get a starter kit, which includes worms.  The kits are $4 for the public or  $2 for Friends of Reinstein members. Please make reservations so they know how many starter kits to have on…

Free class at Lockwood’s covers what you should do in garden in October

Don’t prune in autumn. That’s one of the important bits of advice gardening expert Sally Cunningham will share during a free class on “Yard and Garden Care in October (for a Better Spring!)” at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, October 12, at Lockwood’s Greenhouses, 4484 Clark Street, Hamburg. While the class is free, seating is limited, so please call 649-4684 to make a reservation. Whether you maintain a yard or grow vegetables and flowers, the jobs you do now will make a…

front garden in Buffalo NY

Gardener goes old school with organic gardening in Buffalo

“We’re from New York City,” said Shawn King. “It’s all concrete there. When we got here and saw all this land, we just started planting.” She and her husband, Lew-Jean, have lived for 27 years at 166 Lasalle Ave., Buffalo. I visited them on July 13 during the Samuel P. Capen Garden Walk. “We’ve always had a garden,” Shawn said. “The love of gardening was instilled in me by my grandmother.” In the front yard, a neat arrangement of flowers…