graphic for drought watch

7 WNY counties now on ‘drought watch;’ what it means to gardeners

by Connie Oswald Stofko Cattaraugus and Allegany counties were recently added to the list of counties on drought watch, joining these five counties already on the list: Erie, Niagara, Chautauqua, Orleans and Genesee. Wyoming County still has normal water conditions, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). A “watch” is the first of four levels of state drought advisories: “watch,” “warning,” “emergency” and “disaster.” See a map of current drought conditions here. Understanding drought watch A…

milk jug used to water plant

Clever tip to make sure your plant gets enough water at the roots

by Connie Oswald Stofko We haven’t had much rain lately, so if you have new trees, shrubs or perennials, continue watering them to make sure they have a strong root system before the ground freezes. Sprinkling water on top of the soil every day doesn’t help. The water has to get all the way down to the roots. Here’s an easy way to water deeply. This tip is from Kat in Amherst: To water new or expensive plants I use…

raised garden beds keep out deer

How to have a productive garden when you’ve got deer & kids

by Connie Oswald Stofko When Lindsay and Timothy Dzielski had their garden in the backyard, the deer ate everything. The groundhog and squirrels got a share, too. The garden also competed for space with all of the kids’ toys. So in March, when things suddenly closed down because of the pandemic, they tried something new. They built raised beds in a dead space along their driveway. “This is how you enjoy gardening while you enjoy wildlife,” Timothy said. “People never…

collage on climate change

How gardeners can understand & adapt to climate change

by Connie Oswald Stofko What does climate change mean for your garden? As the climate continues to change, how will you, as a gardener, keep up with the changes? This is Climate Week, and in this article we’ll bring you some resources to help you understand climate change and adapt as a gardener. Ebook on climate change for gardeners What do you see when you look at your garden? A flower here, a tree there, a butterfly over yonder? Your…

montage for early autumn

Six timely reminders for your early autumn garden

by Connie Oswald Stofko Here are some topics from previous issues that may answer a question that has come up for you recently, or may act as a timely reminder. Have you had houseplants outside for the summer? Here is information on how to get rid of bugs before you bring your plants inside. If you want a delightful springtime show of blossoms, plant bulbs now. Find suggestions here on what perennials to plant around tulips to hide the dying…

compost in lid

Tip: How to keep worms in your compost pile

by Connie Oswald Stofko I like to have worms in my compost bin to help break down the plant matter that will turn into rich compost. When I harvest my finished (or partly finished) compost from the bottom of my bin, it’s full of worms. I don’t need the worms in my gardens or containers; I’d prefer to keep them in my compost bin, but I don’t want to take the worms out one by one. Here’s a quick way…

cutting from a coleus

Take cuttings of annuals now while the plant is in its prime

by Connie Oswald Stofko If you want to take cuttings of annuals to take inside for the winter, now is is the time to do it. Cuttings need to be taken while the plants are in their prime, not after they start to fade, said Lyn Chimera of Lessons from Nature. The coleus in the photo can be rooted easily placing the cutting in a glass or small vase of water. Tip: Cut off the leaves on the part of…

daylilies after blossoms

Should you cut leaves off daylilies in autumn?

by Connie Oswald Stofko Local gardeners have been asking whether they can cut down the leaves on daylily plants. The flowers are gone, leaving brown stems. Some of the leaves are browning, too. It’s not a pretty sight. If you need something to do and you would like a tidier garden, pull out the brown bloomstalks and pull off the brown foliage, said Kathy Guest Shadrack, who does communications for the Buffalo Area Daylily Society. But don’t cut back the green daylily…

blue bottles, painted allium and other garden ornaments

Labor Day is approaching, but don’t give up on your garden

by Connie Oswald Stofko It’s September, a time when some gardeners give up on their gardens. But not Patti Zander and Bob Van Hise, who shared their gardens during the City of Tonawanda Garden Walk on Aug. 22. “Oh, I would never give up on my gardens!” Zander said. “We just live for summer. As long as things are alive, we’re out here watering and deadheading.” They have three rain barrels to help keep them supplied with water. No garden…

series of photos of garden

1-minute task now will help you identify perennials in spring

by Connie Oswald Stofko In April, my backyard is nearly flat. Most of my perennials don’t reach their full height by then– if they’ve poked out of the ground at all. So if I want to know where I can plant something new, or if I’m trying to decide if that sprout I see is a flower or a weed, it helps to know where things are already planted, what those plants are, and approximately how big those plants get….