deer in backyard

Don’t feed deer: It’s bad for them, bad for people & illegal!

by Connie Oswald Stofko If you feed deer in your backyard or at a park, you could be harming them instead of helping them. Bringing deer together at feeding sites increases their risk of contracting communicable diseases, such as chronic wasting disease, from other deer. That’s why the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) prohibited deer feeding anywhere in New York State back in 2002. Recently the DEC adopted a new regulation to provide a clearer definition of what…

dandelions in lawn

Dandelions aren’t all bad, plus more tips from Master Gardeners

You may know that dandelion leaves can be eaten, but there are even more uses for this plant. The milky sap of a variety of dandelion can be used to make rubber, according to an article by Lyn Chimera in the most recent issue of WNY Gardening Matters. WNY Gardening Matters is produced by the Master Gardeners of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Erie County. Also in this issue: Learn about an invasive pest called the hemlock wooly adelgid, which can…

sticks in garden to keep rabbits and cats out

Tip to keep rabbits, cats out of your garden this winter

by Connie Oswald Stofko Do rabbits make nests in your garden? Do cats use your garden for a litterbox? Here is one tip to solve both problems. Make the space less appealing by breaking it up with sticks. In addition to sticks from a tree, you can recycle disposable chopsticks, Popsicle sticks, old plant tags and plastic forks and spoons. In my garden I have a metal spoon that was damaged when it fell into the garbage disposal. Don’t go…

boxelder bug

Don’t worry if you find boxelder bugs in your house; they’re harmless

Have boxelder bugs taken shelter in your home this fall? If so, don’t worry. They are native and won’t harm you, your house or plants. Boxelder bugs don’t bite or sting, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. They aren’t attracted to food the way ants are. They become inactive when the weather turns cold enough. In addition, the boxelder bug doesn’t significantly damage the trees it feeds on, according to the National Pesticide Information Center. The…

holly raguza, Bugwood.org

Good news: No lanternfly infestations found, but your help is still needed

The good news is that there hasn’t yet been a documented spotted lanternfly infestation in New York. That’s wonderful because the spotted lanternfly can damage many kinds of plants. In addition, it can secrete so much messy “honeydew” that people can’t go outside without getting honeydew on their hair and clothes. If this insect becomes established in New York, it could impact our forests, agriculture and tourism. Your help is needed to keep this invasive and destructive insect out of our area, according…

Halloween bat

Bats: spooky creatures or garden helpers?

It’s Bat Week, time to raise awareness about the important role bats play in our environment and our gardens. What you might not know about bats All of New York State’s bats eat insects. A single little brown myotis bat can consume 1,000 mosquito-sized insects in just one hour! The bat is the only mammal that can truly fly. (Flying squirrels glide, but don’t fly.) Bats are extremely long lived, compared to mammals of similar size. The oldest documented one was…

blossom end rot in tomatoes

What calcium has to do with blossom end rot in tomatoes

Blossom end rot is connected to a calcium deficiency, but, oddly enough, adding calcium to the soil doesn’t help. Read more in the article here to find out why. That’s just one of the articles you’ll find in the most recent issue of WNY Gardening Matters, produced by the Master Gardeners of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Erie County. Here are the other articles you’ll find in this issue: Earwigs are invasive insects that may cause minimal damage to plants but…

healthy impatiens by Stofko

Autumn updates: 3 plant diseases and a pest

by Connie Oswald Stofko Here are updates on three diseases and one pest: downy mildew on impatiens, tar spot on maple leaves, late blight on tomatoes and potatoes, and the brown marmorated stink bug. Maybe you’ve been dealing with these issues for years, or you might be noticing one of these for the first time. John Farfaglia, extension educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Niagara County, gives us updates. Impatiens There’s good news and bad news about impatiens (Impatiens walleriana)….

goat's beard

Try goat’s beard, a bold native plant, plus other tips from Master Gardeners

If you want a large, dramatic plant with showy flowers that also attracts lots of pollinators, go for goat’s beard. That’s the suggestion from Lyn Chimera in September’s issue of WNY Gardening Matters, published by the Master Gardeners of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Erie County. Goat’s beard (Aruncus dioicus), is hardy in zones 6-8, but needs moist shade in zones 7 and 8. It can get seven feet tall and four feet wide, so make sure you have enough room….

deer eating in winter

My new talk ‘Oh, Deer!’ helps you protect your plants

by Connie Oswald Stofko One of the things that gets gardeners in Western New York riled up is deer. These hungry critters can wreak havoc in a garden. There’s no magic solution to keep deer from eating your plants, but there are things you can do that might help. Unfortunately, even if you find something to keep the deer away for awhile, the deer might get used to that deterrent. Then you have to try something else. The good news…