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…


Consider cover crops for your garden; get seed now

  by Deb Bigelow, Master Gardener volunteer, and Colleen Cavagna, Community/Consumer Horticulture Educator with Allegany County Cornell Cooperative Extension Now that cover crop seed is widely available in small quantities for home gardeners, it’s easier than ever to incorporate these wonder-workers into your garden plans. Cover crops are helpful for beds that are too weedy to give good yields or that need organic matter. They can also attract pollinators and slow erosion. You might think of farms when you think of cover crops,…

container garden in front yard

Not sure where to create garden bed? Try it out with containers

by Connie Oswald Stofko Our front lawn is big and open, so it used to be the place to play catch or soccer. Now that the kids are grown, I thought I’d use some of that space for growing plants other than grass. Since the front yard is a bit sunnier than the back, I especially wanted to try vegetables, which need some sun. The problem was that I wasn’t sure exactly where I wanted the new garden to be….

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…

flowers on sunchoke in Amherst NY 2013

It’s time to plant sunchokes; email me if you want some

by Connie Oswald Stofko I have sunchokes that I will share for free, but there’s one catch. You have to pick them up or get someone you know to pick them up. I just don’t want to have to mail them. I’m in the Eggertsville area of Amherst. If you don’t get out this way, you probably have a neighbor or cousin or coworker who does. If you’d like some sunchokes, email me at so we can arrange for…

butterfly on aster in autumn

Hot autum weather breaks records; what it means for your garden

by Connie Oswald Stofko It was 90 degrees Fahrenheit– 22 degrees above normal– on Sunday at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, breaking the previous record of 88 degrees set in 2010. When I called the National Weather Service in Buffalo early Monday afternoon to find out about this hot autumn weather, it was already 89 degrees, breaking the previous record of 87 set in 2007. Not only is it unusual to have temperatures that are so much above normal, but…

bulbs of garlic

You may not have to wait until October to plant garlic

by Connie Oswald Stofko One of the things I like about garlic is that planting it gives you something to do in late fall when there is nothing else to do in the garden. I have always heard that you’re supposed to plant garlic in October. But is there any reason you can’t plant it earlier? Since you harvest in July or August, I think it might be convenient to take cloves from your best heads of garlic and plant…

tomato on vine

Tips on harvesting vegetables

Did you ever pick a big, red tomato and slice it open, only to find you should have left it on the vine a little longer? You can find tips on harvesting vegetables, including when to pick them, from the Home Garden Seed Association, which also goes by In most cases, tomatoes should be not only fully colored, but slightly soft when squeezed, according to the Home Garden Seed Association. There are some exceptions. Large heirloom tomatoes can be…

late blight on tomatoes

Late blight is affecting tomatoes, potatoes in WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko All of Western New York is at risk for late blight, said Emily Reynolds, executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Chautauqua County. Late blight was confirmed on tomato plants in Chautauqua County this weekend, she said, and the genotype is still being determined. The first report in the state came from Erie County on July 10, according to a blog post on late blight published by the New York State IPM Program. (IPM is integrated…

front yard on Garden Walk Buffalo

Tip on planting in tiny yard; get more tips at Garden Walk Buffalo this weekend

by Connie Oswald Stofko Rosemary Lyons has an ingenious way to squeeze plants into the flagstone patio that takes up all of her tiny yard. One place where there aren’t any pavers is where the wrought iron fence is set into the ground. Lyons set some bricks on each side of the fence, then filled the area around the fence with fresh soil and lots of compost. There was enough room to plant purple pole beans, and the fence was…