rain barrel pouring water into used milk jug

Reminder: Keep watering your plants

by Connie Oswald Stofko Blue skies! Highs in the 80s! What more could we want in Western New York? We might be celebrating, but are your plants happy? We haven’t had much rain in the past month, plus we’ve had hot, breezy conditions. That sucks the moisture out of the soil. Make sure you are watering often enough. Concentrate your watering efforts on these plants: See the U.S. Drought Monitor here. Most of Western New York is abnormally dry, while…

biochar in kiln

Biochar can help your garden soil for eons—learn more at event in Eden

by Connie Oswald Stofko The Amazon basin in general has poor soil, but it has some areas with amazingly fertile soil. Those fertile soils were created thousands of years ago by people using slash-and-burn agriculture. What was left behind from the burned plant material created the soil called terra preta, or black earth. And that soil, thousands of years later, can still be farmed today. Now we’re trying to replicate those fertile soils by using biochar, a kind of charcoal…

Boxelder bug

Pesky boxelder bugs: read more in WNY Gardening Matters

Boxelder bugs are basically nuisance bugs, according to this article by Lyn Chimera in the newest edition of  WNY Gardening Matters, produced by the Master Gardeners of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Erie County. In autumn, boxelder bugs may go into your house to find a warm, dry place to spend the winter. Their droppings can stain walls, both inside and out. If you squish them, that can leave a staining, smelly mark. Find out more about boxelder bugs in this article….

opening frame for video on How to Divide Perennials in Western New York

Autumn is a good time to divide perennials; see new video

by Connie Oswald Stofko Is your hosta overtaking your heuchera? Or just getting too big for your small garden? You may need to divide your plants, and autumn is a good time to do it. Find out more about dividing plants with Lyn Chimera of Lessons from Nature. And if you need more tips, check out these articles:…

Aster in flower as well as buds

Autumn isn’t here yet, but we can prepare in Western New York

by Connie Oswald Stofko We’re having 90-degree weather in parts of Western New York–I hope you don’t think it’s already autumn! Just because the kids are going back to school, it doesn’t mean it’s time to pack up our gardening tools. Here are some tips that you can use now or in the coming weeks as we prepare for autumn….

squirrel at bird feeder in rain in Amherst NY

Tips for dealing with squirrels in WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko Why is it so hard to keep squirrels away from your bird feeder? It’s because they’re amazing acrobats! Researchers compiled this video showing just how nimble squirrels are. It’s fascinating! There are a couple things you can try if you want to keep squirrels out of your bird feeder. BirdNotes from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology offers suggestions on the best spots to position the feeder in your yard. Special bird feeders and other equipment might…

canned vegetables

Canning: Get started with info from The Optimistic Gardener

If you’re having a great harvest this year, consider canning some of that produce. Learn about canning and other preserving methods in the article “Canning is my Jam” by Shannon Rinow, Master Gardener coordinator. That’s just one of the articles in the newest edition of The Optimistic Gardener, the local horticulture newsletter produced by the Master Gardeners of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Cattaraugus and Chautauqua Counties. Find the newsletter on the gardening page of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Chautauqua (on the lefthand…

lilac, marigold and hyacinth in Amherst NY

WNY gardeners: What plants smell great to you and which ones don’t?

by Connie Oswald Stofko Many years ago, I was visiting the grand Sonnenberg Gardens in Canandaigua. I sat down on a bench and got a whiff of something nasty. It turned out to be a boxwood and I wondered why anyone would plant such a stinky shrub. It turns out that boxwood doesn’t affect everyone the way it affected me. Some people don’t notice a scent, and others actually think boxwood smells nice. On the other hand, I love the…

slug in garden

Some WNY gardeners inundated with slugs

by Connie Oswald Stofko Slugs chomp on a variety of garden plants, and Western New York’s rainy weather means that some gardeners are battling with an increased population of slugs. What should you do if you have slugs? Well, keep things in perspective. You can reduce the numbers of slugs, but not get rid of them completely. To decrease the number of slugs, slug bait seems to be your best bet. There are two kinds of slug bait. The conventional…


Still time to plant some veggies; save seeds, too

by Connie Oswald Stofko It’s only August, so there is still a lot of gardening you can do in Western New York. Succession planting Succession planting is when you plant and harvest a second crop in one year. There is still time to squeeze in another crop of cool weather vegetables! If you missed planting them in early spring, take advantage of this second chance. In our previous article, Patti Jablonski-Dopkin, general manager at Urban Roots Cooperative Garden Market explains what to plant…