plant sprout in spring by Stofko in Amherst

Early bird may get only muddy boots– don’t rush your garden

With all this cold, snowy weather, it seems like spring will never get here. Don’t worry; milder temperatures are on their way. But don’t rush into your garden at the first whiff of warm weather. “Be patient, take your time, and take time for your garden to get ready for you,” said Peggy Koppmann in “This Month in the Garden,” one of the three articles in this month’s edition of WNY Gardening Matters. “Remember, the early bird may get nothing more than…

plastic bottle protecting sprout

Tips on deer, composting & more for Western New York

  by Connie Oswald Stofko I am fortunate that so many Western New Yorkers share gardening tips with me. People often share tips with me after I give a talk. Unfortunately, I am so busy scribbling down notes about the tips themselves that I don’t always get the name of the person who shared the tip. My apologies. Today I’ll share a few of the tips I’ve accumulated. If you have a tip that worked for you, you can share…

orchid dyed blue

Don’t be misled by gardening myths; learn more at Plantasia

by Connie Oswald Stofko “I finally got fed up with the baloney I saw on the Internet,” said Carolyn Stanko, associate professor of horticulture and biology at Niagara County Community College and a senior CNLP. She’d see posts of bogus gardening information, but other readers would think it was true and share it. “I finally had to stand up and preach the truth!” she said. She will help you separate gardening fact from fiction when she presents “Garden Myth Busting –…

soil in garden

Why pH uses that weird scale & other great info from WNY Gardening Matters

Why is pH expressed with numbers on such a weird scale? Carol Ann Harlos, Master Gardener, answers that question and offers more useful information about pH in this month’s edition of WNY Gardening Matters, produced by the Master Gardeners of Erie County Cornell Cooperative Extension.  The way we measure acidity has to do with the taste of beer, Harlos explains in her article. A slight change in acidity can result in a big change in the taste of beer, so…

eastern mole

Moles and voles creating holes: What to do

  by Connie Oswald Stofko Over the years, I have heard gardeners complain about moles and voles, so when I saw a mole in my garden a couple weeks ago, I freaked out. After talking to John Farfaglia, extension educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Niagara County, I’m much more relaxed. Now I have a plan. And my plan is to do nothing. (I’ve already started. It doesn’t get easier than this.) First, let’s sort out the difference between moles…

path to lovely vegetable garden in Lancaster

Gorgeous vegetable garden is focus of Lancaster landscape

  by Connie Oswald Stofko In the past, people would hide their vegetable gardens in a back corner of the yard. That’s changing, and more and more people boldly display their veggies in garden beds among their ornamental plants. One problem is that vegetables often need even more protection from critters than ornamental plants do. Jane Bednarczyk protects her vegetable plants, and she does it in a way that’s not only attractive, it’s a focal point of the yard. Bednarczyk…

rabbit in garden

More tips on managing deer, rabbits & other pests

by Connie Oswald Stofko We have already accumulated so many tips on keeping gardens safe from rabbits, deer and other pests that it surprises me to find that gardeners have found even more clever ways to deal with critters. Here are more tips that local gardeners have shared with me. Deer and rabbits Previously, we told you that placing dryer sheets in your garden could keep deer and rabbits away, but when the smell goes out of the dryer sheets,…

aphids on oxeye daisy

Winter bugs: how they get on indoor plants & what to do about it

by Steven Jakobi, Allegany County Master Gardener volunteer   One of the hardest things for me when the weather turns cold is to let go of my annuals. I mean, these are my babies. I started them from seed early in the spring, nurtured them throughout the summer, saw them flower and fruit and then, with the first hard frost, I have to see them perish. To prevent their demise, I bring as many of them as I can into the…

oak leaf with wilt

Now through February is time to prune oaks to protect against disease

Pruning oak trees now through the end of February can help protect the oaks from becoming infected with oak wilt, a fungal disease that can be deadly for oaks, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The disease is caused by the oak wilt fungus. One way oak wilt spreads is by the fungal spores hitching rides on insects. Sap beetles, one of the main culprits, are extremely attracted to fresh tree wounds. If you prune when the insects…

blood twig dogwood Midnight Fire

Look for ‘two-fers’ for your garden; hear more at PLANT WNY event

by Connie Oswald Stofko Home gardeners aren’t planting acres and acres of gardens anymore, so we have to get more out of the few plants we choose to include in our landscapes, Kerry Ann Mendez told me in a phone interview. The award-winning garden designer, author and lecturer noted that the two largest age groups in our country now are millennials and baby boomers, and both groups are choosing smaller spaces. Millennials are gravitating toward urban settings rather than sprawling suburbs, and…