seedlings with seed on bottom

When should you start seeds inside for tender plants in WNY?

by Connie Oswald Stofko Tender plants, such as tomatoes, peppers and some flowers, need warm temperatures to thrive, so you want your seedlings to be ready to transplant ouside when the weather is warm. If you plant your seeds inside too early, the weather might still be too cold to transplant outdoors. When should you plant seeds inside to have the plants ready for your garden at the right time? It depends on what you are planting and where you…

purple crocuses in Amherst NY

Gardening tasks for early spring in WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko After weeks of snow covering our gardens, we can see plants again here in Western New York! The sun has been shining. At times, the weather’s so warm, you can be outside without a sweater. We can tackle some gardening tasks now that we couldn’t do just a couple of weeks ago. But it’s still early spring and the weather fluctuates. The afternoon warmth can be followed by freezing temperatures at night. A stretch of warm…

seed packets from Botanical Interests

Reminder: It’s time to start seeds for cool weather veggies in WNY

Some cool weather vegetables can be started inside now–or soon–depending on the last frost date in your area. Other seeds are sown directly outside. As their name implies, cool weather vegetables can withstand cooler temperatures in the air and soil, which means you can plant them outside in early spring. Cool weather vegetables include broccoli, kale, cabbage, collards, endive and onions. See this previous article where Patti Jablonski-Dopkin, general manager of Urban Roots Cooperative Garden Market, explains the details of starting cool…

mini-greenhouse made from recycled plastic milk jug in Buffalo NY

Reminder: you can plant seeds outside now using winter sowing

by Connie Oswald Stofko Yes, I know there’s snow on the ground and temperatures have been in the single digits here in Western New York. But here’s a gardening task you can do outside now: plant seeds. It’s called winter sowing. You do it by making a mini-greenhouse and using seeds that take cold temperatures. Plant the seeds in your mini-greenhouse, set it in a sheltered area (such as against a fence) and wait for spring. When the temperatures get…

seating area with grape vines in Kenmore NY

Broken fence became wall for charming outdoor room

by Connie Oswald Stofko A wooden fence used to separate this backyard from a parking lot. Unfortunately, plows clearing the lot shoved snow against the fence, and the snow won. Matt and Tashia Tribo of Kenmore replaced the collapsed fence with a cinder block wall and coated it with a veneer of stucco. The wall, which is as beautiful as it is functional, is part of a charming outdoor room. The Tribos’ garage and their neighbors’ garage act as the…

harvesting sage in early winter

Don’t desert your garden yet! Tasks for early winter weather in WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko I wasn’t sure whether to use “early winter” or “late autumn” in the headline. Technically, winter doesn’t start until Dec. 21. Yet we have already gotten snow and more is in the forecast, so I went with winter. Then again, the snow keeps melting, and many of us still have leaves on the trees. Maybe we should call this season “wintumn.” Whatever you call it, there are still tasks you can do in your garden. Harvest…

photo illustration of squirrels in apple tree

Help a reader: squirrels eating apples

by Connie Oswald Stofko I received this question from a reader: Hello, we have two semi-dwarf apple trees in our yard. I think an entire colony of squirrels have been eating apples on the tree. Any ideas to stop them would be appreciated. Kara StimsonOlean I haven’t experienced this problem, but maybe you have. How did you deal with this problem? Any suggestions? Please leave a comment below! Get more gardening tips See more questions & answers here. Find helpful articles…

heirloom squash at Urban Roots in Buffalo NY

Heirloom & specialty squash at Urban Roots: decorative & tasty

by Connie Oswald Stofko Instead of placing a common pumpkin outside as a decoration, you can use an eye-catching heirloom or specialty squash, said Patti Jablonski-Dopkin, general manager of Urban Roots Cooperative Garden Market, 428 Rhode Island St., Buffalo. “The bonus with these is that they are beautiful for decorating, and then delicious to eat,” she said. “They come in great shapes and different colors. They’re great on tables.” When she displays hers outside, she leaves them out until after…

ripe and unripe cherry tomatoes in Buffalo NY by Stofko

Reminder: you can ripen tomatoes inside

by Connie Oswald Stofko If you’re worried about damage to your tomatoes from late blight, frost or squirrels, pick your tomatoes when they’re green and bring them inside. The flavor and color is similar to that of a tomato ripened in the field, according to Cornell University. See all the details in this previous article. Late blight Late blight, which affects tomatoes and potatoes, hasn’t yet been identified in Western New York yet this year, but it has been seen…

illustration of sparrow eating lettuce and kale

Help a reader: birds eating lettuce

by Connie Oswald Stofko I received this question from a reader: Just wondering if anyone else has had sparrows eating their lettuce, Swiss chard or other greens. I planted a second crop fairly recently in planters and the sparrows act as if they are at a salad bar. They aren’t eating the seeds, just the leaves, picked them to pieces! I’ve just recently covered them with old windows that I use for cold frames and am hoping this stops them. I…