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…

late blight on tomatoes

Protect tomatoes; late blight detected in Chautauqua County

by Connie Oswald Stofko Late blight, which affects tomatoes and potatoes, is present in Chautauqua County and is expected it to be found fairly soon in Cattaraugus County and Pennsylvania, according to the Cornell Cooperative Extension Vegetable Program. Given the current weather patterns, there is real risk that late blight has already traveled on the storm fronts to new places.  You may not be upset if you lose a few tomato plants, but this disease spreads easily and can be very…

stages of Gypsy moth

Insect damage? It might be gypsy moth caterpillar or fourlined plant bug

by Connie Oswald Stofko You may have seen damage to your plants recently and not known what was causing the damage. Here are two possibilities: gypsy moth caterpillar and fourlined plant bug. The worst is over for this year, but you should be on the lookout for them next year. Below is some general information on Gypsy moth caterpillars and fourlined plant bugs. If you have more questions about damage to plants or if you want an identification of an…

lettuce and kale plants

How to get a second crop of vegetables & herbs this year in WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko You can harvest vegetables and herbs into the fall–and even winter–when you plant cool weather vegetables at this time of year. Unlike plants such as tomatoes and peppers that need warm weather to thrive, cool weather vegetables are plants that actually like the cooler temperatures. Some can tolerate temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit. See the table below for more than 20 herbs and vegetables you can still plant this year. “Many experienced gardeners, not…

lawn in yard using permaculture

This Grand Island landscape is suburban in front, natural in back

by Connie Oswald Stofko It’s like visiting a home out in the country–depending on what side of the house you’re on. In front, the home of Denise and Don Freedman has a typical suburban landscape. In back, it’s more natural, with fruit trees, a rain garden and trees that were there when they bought the land. They’ve been using permaculture techniques before they ever heard that word. What does permaculture mean to them? “It’s using your land to your advantage,”…

basket of vegetables in Western New York by Stofko

How to choose best vegetables to grow in your garden

by Connie Oswald Stofko Many beginning gardeners wonder what vegetables are the best to plant. That’s a difficult question to answer. What I like to plant may not be what you should plant. Here are some ideas on how you can choose what vegetables are best for you to plant. Right plant for the right spot The first thing you always have to think of are your growing conditions. Many of the vegetable plants that gardeners like to grow need…

snow in May 2020

Mow, snow, grow: wild spring weather in Western New York

by Connie Oswald Stofko We had a mild winter and last month it seemed that spring had arrived in Western New York. There was a lot of rain, but every so often the rain took a break and people mowed their lawns. But there were stretches when it seemed like it was constantly cloudy. We yearned for sunshine! But this past week really made us shake our heads. The mowing days alternated with snowing days. Big, fat snowflakes floated in…

pea starts at Mischler's

Plant cool-weather vegetables in garden now

by Connie Oswald Stofko Peas, lettuce, broccoli and beets are some of the vegetables you can plant in your garden now. These are cool-weather crops that don’t mind the chilly temperatures we have at this time of year. You can start these plants from seed or you can buy vegetable starts (small plants), said Mark Yadon, vice president at Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses, 118 South Forest Rd., Williamsville. “With plant starts, you can have an instant garden,” Yadon said. But don’t…

snowdrops flowers by Stofko

Gardening things you can do now despite the COVID-19 cancellations

by Connie Oswald Stofko Plantasia is cancelled. The Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens is closed until at least April 20. Lots of other places and activities are shut down, too. It’s disappointing, but we all need to do what we can do to slow the spread of COVID-19. But here is good news: Spring is arriving on March 19. The weather seems to be getting milder. And there are actually some gardening activities you can do now! I’ll list…

tomato plants ripening inside in autumn

How to keep growing tomatoes on the vine after frost

by Connie Oswald Stofko There’s nothing like the taste of vine-ripened tomatoes, but frost will stop tomato production cold. There are ways to try to protect your plants from frost, but it can be difficult to accomplish. (See some tips here on how to prevent frost from damaging garden plants. So last year when Judy Clark of Hamburg excitedly told me, “It’s the end of November and I’m still getting fresh tomatoes,” you can bet that I wanted to know…