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…

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…

succulents blooming in September

Seven ideas for autumn gardening in Western New York

by Connie Oswald Stofko It’s officially autumn on the calendar, but there are still gardening things to do. Here are some ideas we have shared in past articles. Even if they’re not new to you, it’s always good to get a reminder. Tasks you can do in your autumn garden: Harvest, weed, water & enjoy Debug your houseplants before bringing them inside Test soil and amend it if necessary Enjoy waves of spring color in a single spot or even…

green tomatoes

How to ripen green tomatoes before frost or late blight damages them

by Connie Oswald Stofko I received this question from a reader, and it’s probably something that will help other gardeners, too. My tomatoes have just started to ripen. If I pick them totally green, before they get late blight, will they ripen in a bushel basket? Paula You can pick green tomatoes and get them to ripen with flavor and color similar to what you would have gotten if they were ripened in the field, according to this article from…

symptoms of late blight on tomatoes

Bad news: Late blight could be coming to your tomatoes

Late blight was detected in Genesee, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties on Aug. 16, according to Cornell Cooperative Extension in Genesee and Chautauqua counties. It could make its way to other parts of Western New York, too, because it can spread dozens of miles on storm fronts. Late blight is a serious disease that can kill tomato and potato plants in just one week, according to Cornell Cooperative Extension in Chautauqua County. It’s best known for causing the Irish potato famine….