New tool helps you understand climate change in your garden

by Connie Oswald Stofko Find out how climate change is affecting your garden through a new online tool that provides county-level information on how the climate has changed since 1950 and what you can expect in the future. Called Climate Change in Your County, the tool was launched recently by the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions. It tracks average annual temperatures, high and low temperature trends, length of growing season and annual growing degree days. It also offers precipitation trends and…

lake effect snow fall leaves Amherst NY

Lake effect snow: What can you do? Volunteer to report it!

  by Connie Oswald Stofko As I write this, some of us can see the grass on our lawns while other folks in Western New York have had to shovel. That’s the wonder of lake effect snow. The bands of lake effect snow (or rain) can be very narrow, so one small area can get dumped on while folks nearby get nothing. And that’s why meterologists need your help. Weather reporting stations can be 15 miles apart, while a band…

Halloween bat

Bats are great for your landscape; poster will promote bat habitats

by Connie Oswald Stofko Don’t believe what you see portrayed in Halloween decorations. Bats aren’t scary– They’re amazing! To encourage people to welcome bats into their landscapes, “Habitats for Bats” will be the theme of the 5th Grade Arbor Day Poster Contest sponsored by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Department of Agriculture and Markets and Department of Education. Posters must be submitted by Dec. 21 to your local DEC regional office to allow time for judging and printing of the artwork. See…

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…

sunchokes in Western New York

Septembers are getting warmer in most of WNY; what gardeners can do

  by Connie Oswald Stofko If you were still running your air conditioner on Friday, you won’t be surprised to hear that so far September was 6 degrees warmer than normal in Buffalo. That information comes from Dan Kelly, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Buffalo. While that data goes from Sept. 1 to the end of yesterday (Sept. 24), we are now in for a cooling period with more normal temperatures, he said. But we should probably expect this…

Mile-a-minute vine

Look out for mile-a-minute vine, called ‘kudzu of the north’

by Connie Oswald invStofko People are calling mile-a-minute vine “the kudzu of the north.” That’s scary because kudzu is known as “the vine that ate the south.” Mile-a-minute vine (Persicaria perfoliata) can grow as much as six inches per day and more than 20 feet per year. It has small, recurved barbs along its stem that allow it to grow over vegetation such as tree seedlings and smother them. It can have a negative effect on tree farms, forestry operations and the reforestation of natural areas. Mile-a-minute…

Asian Longhorned Beetle

Your help can protect our trees against Asian longhorned beetle

Now is the time of year to look for the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB), an invasive beetle that could cause serious damage to New York State’s street trees and forests. Most infestations of forest pests are found by members of the public, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), so your help can make a difference. Good news: The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (DAM) has succeeded in eradicating the invasive beetle from Staten Island, Manhattan, Islip…

jumping worm Amynthas

New threat: jumping worms. Are they already in WNY?

  by Connie Oswald Stofko There’s a new threat to Western New York gardens: jumping worms. They’re bad for your garden, and they can really screw up the ecosystem of forests. Jumping worms (so named because they jump and thrash when handled) can change the consistency of soil, making it granular and grainy, like coffee grounds. That hinders the germination of plants, said  Andrea Locke, coordinator for Partnerships for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM) in Western New York. They can deplete the soil of…

monarch on milkweed

Butterfly gardens need more than nectar

  by Connie Oswald Stofko If you want to attract adult butterflies to your garden, you can choose plants that provide nectar. But if you really want to help butterflies, provide plants that they need in other parts of their life cycle, too. That’s the suggestion of Douglas W. Tallamy, famed author of Bringing Nature Home, who spoke in Western New York in March. Butterflies don’t lay their eggs on any old plant, Tallamy said in Bringing Nature Home. They lay their eggs…

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…