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…

clay in soil

Clay soil: compost is better than sand

by Connie Oswald Stofko When you have clay soil, should you add compost or sand? Compost. “In the long run, by far, the best thing you could possibly add is organic matter,” said John Farfaglia, extension educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Niagara County. Organic matter can be compost, autumn leaves, peat moss or other plant material. Organic matter is better because you have to add so much sand to loosen the clay, it’s not practical, Farfaglia said. I asked this…

don't use lawn fertilizer with phosphorus

Keep our waterways clean: look for zero on lawn fertilizer

Do you like swimming or fishing or clean water in general? Then help our lakes, rivers and creeks by not spreading phosphorus on your lawn. If you fertilize your lawn, look for a bag with a zero in the middle. Fertilizer labels have three numbers. The number in the middle is the percentage of phosphorus in the product, such as 22-0-15. Excess phosphorus has made many waterways in New York State un-swimmable and un-fishable, according to the New York State…

Elle Pots at Mike Weber in West Seneca NY

Mike Weber’s introduces ‘4-packs without the plastic’

by Connie Oswald Stofko You’re probably familiar with four-packs and six-packs, those plastic containers that hold four or six small plants. This year Mike Weber Greenhouses is introducing something called Elle Pots. “Think of a four- or six-pack without all that plastic,” said Jen Weber, vice president and manager of Mike Weber Greenhouses, 42 French Rd., West Seneca. The Elle Pots start with a tube of strong, biodegradable paper that is filled with potting mix. Seeds or cuttings are planted into…

wrapping paper

Before you buy wrapping paper, consider this: Can you compost it?

by Connie Oswald Stofko Those glossy wrapping papers are so pretty when they’re on a package, but what happens to the gift wrap after the package is opened? You might think that adding wrapping paper to your compost pile is a great way to use up the paper, but think again. Some wrapping paper can actually contaminate your compost with heavy metals– and that could affect your garden, too. Many kinds of gift wrap contain heavy metals such as lead,…

autumn leaves on grass

It’s leaf season! 9 tips for using autumn leaves in your garden

by Connie Oswald Stofko We enjoyed many weeks of beautiful autumn color in Western New York this year! Now it’s time for the leaves to fall. The bad news is that our recent strong winds brought down branches as well as leaves. I hope you didn’t sustain any damage. The good news is that the fallen leaves give us things to do in our landscapes at this time of year. And those leaves can be used in so many ways!…

grass with numbers representing zero phosphorus in fertilizer

“Look for the Zero;” don’t use phosphorus on lawns

by Connie Oswald Stofko Most lawns don’t need phosphorus. And if you use a fertilizer containing phosphorus on your lawn, the excess phosphorus can wash off and pollute our waterways. That’s why the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is running its “Look for the Zero” campaign. If you want to use a chemical fertilizer on your lawn, make sure you choose one without phosphorus. Fertilizer labels have three numbers. The number in the middle is the percentage of…

seeds

New seed library for WNY opens; it’s free!

by Connie Oswald Stofko The WNY Seed Library–the first free seed library of its kind in Western New York– has opened in Amherst. “There was no place in Western New York where you can get seeds for free,” said Brenda Snyder, who started working on the WNY Seed Library in June 2018. Food security is one of her goals. She feels that no one should go without food because they can’t afford it. The seed library aims to provide heirloom…

broom leaves on perennial bed in Western New York

How to mulch ground cover, plus 4 more tips for autumn leaves in WNY

  by Lyn Chimera of Lessons From Nature  Many people dread raking up autumn leaves, but you should look forward to it. Leaves are a free resource for your landscape, a bonus from nature. Don’t throw them away! Here are five tips on using autumn leaves in different parts of your landscape. Leaves on the lawn If there is a light covering of leaves on your lawn, you can mow right over them and leave the chopped-up leaves on the lawn. They…

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…