You can garden in shade–even under a tree!

by Connie Oswald Stofko Do you struggle with shade? Find out how these gardeners created lush shade gardens–directly under large trees! The trick, the gardeners said, is using good soil with lots of compost. Note: Don’t pile soil up against the tree trunk and don’t create mulch volcanoes. See more here. “Make sure the soil is real good,” said Linda Monaco. She and her husband Chris live in Lackawanna and shared their landscape on Open Gardens last month. “In the…

rocks and flowers installed by Busy Beaver Lawn and Garden

Before & after: How my front yard went from ho-hum to awesome

by Connie Oswald Stofko by Connie Oswald Stofko The part of my landscape that everyone sees– the front yard– was so plain it bordered on unattractive. (See the before images below.) I knew what I wanted to achieve, but I didn’t know what it should look like or how to make it happen. So I called in the experts at Busy Beaver Lawn & Garden and gave them a list of things I wanted to accomplish. That list included: Create…

Asian longhorned beetle in pool

Look for signs of two invasive dangers to trees in WNY

Western New Yorkers should watch for signs of oak wilt and Asian longhorned beetles (ALB), two invasive dangers to trees. Neither has been found yet in Western New York, but if either is here, early detection could help stop the spread. You might also begin to notice tar spot, which is common on maples here. It’s ugly, but doesn’t damage the tree. Oak wilt Oak wilt disease is a fungal disease that affects both red and white oaks, but red…

stages of Gypsy moth

Insect damage? It might be gypsy moth caterpillar or fourlined plant bug

by Connie Oswald Stofko You may have seen damage to your plants recently and not known what was causing the damage. Here are two possibilities: gypsy moth caterpillar and fourlined plant bug. The worst is over for this year, but you should be on the lookout for them next year. Below is some general information on Gypsy moth caterpillars and fourlined plant bugs. If you have more questions about damage to plants or if you want an identification of an…

lettuce and kale plants

How to get a second crop of vegetables & herbs this year in WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko You can harvest vegetables and herbs into the fall–and even winter–when you plant cool weather vegetables at this time of year. Unlike plants such as tomatoes and peppers that need warm weather to thrive, cool weather vegetables are plants that actually like the cooler temperatures. Some can tolerate temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit. See the table below for more than 20 herbs and vegetables you can still plant this year. “Many experienced gardeners, not…

Sweet Emotion abelia from Proven Winners

When to plant shrubs, plus shrubs new to you & a longtime favorite

by Connie Oswald Stofko Don’t hurry to plant shrubs in Western New York. That’s one tip from Jen Weber, vice president and manager of Mike Weber Greenhouses, 42 French Rd., West Seneca. We’ll give you more details on when to plant shrubs, as well as a suggestion for a tried-and-true shrub and a couple of shrubs that may be new to you. When to plant shrubs When people lose shrubs, it’s usually because they planted too early. “Wait until Father’s Day,”…

Japanese beetle

Check your plants now for Japanese beetles

“We are getting reports from some gardeners that Japanese beetles are showing up now,” said John Farfaglia, extension educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Niagara County. The Japanese beetle, which is native to Japan, is a highly destructive plant pest here. In Japan, natural predators keep the population in check. Hand picking works well in small gardens but must be repeated frequently, Farfaglia said. Neem oil is also an option for control. See more details in our previous article here. Also…

sprinkler in summer by Stofko

Deal with summer heat in your garden

by Connie Oswald Stofko Remember that snow we got in May? We couldn’t wait for sunny, summer weather in Western New York. Well, it’s here– in full force! Let’s look at some ways you can keep your garden–and yourself– healthy and happy during this summer heat. Water your plants “Watering is number one on the list for this week,” said John Farfaglia, extension educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Niagara County. “In this heat, water loss from evaporation from the soil…

lawn in yard using permaculture

This Grand Island landscape is suburban in front, natural in back

by Connie Oswald Stofko It’s like visiting a home out in the country–depending on what side of the house you’re on. In front, the home of Denise and Don Freedman has a typical suburban landscape. In back, it’s more natural, with fruit trees, a rain garden and trees that were there when they bought the land. They’ve been using permaculture techniques before they ever heard that word. What does permaculture mean to them? “It’s using your land to your advantage,”…

lilies and red lily leaf beetle

Could these simple tricks keep away red lily leaf beetles?

by Connie Oswald Stofko Recently a couple of readers have shared ways to keep red lily leaf beetles from eating their plants. Could these things really work? I asked John Farfaglia, extension educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Niagara County, what he thought of the suggestions. Bottom line: there are no studies on whether these methods work, but they shouldn’t hurt, either. Diatomaceous earth for red lily leaf beetles Susan Baker said that last year she had lily leaf beetles on…