oak leaf on pine needles

Take steps now to have great soil next year

by Connie Oswald Stofko A couple of simple tests can tell you what steps you have to take to improve your soil– or let you know that you are already on the right track. There are three kinds of tests you might do, said John Farfaglia, extension educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Niagara County. The first is a pH test to find out how acidic or alkaline your soil is. Farfaglia recommends that every gardener do this test at…

spinach growing in March in Western New York

Plant spinach seeds now, get sprouts in March– Trick is milk jugs

by Connie Oswald Stofko Maggie Koste Patz of West Seneca planted spinach last fall and by mid-March, the spinach was doing well. “ I recall feasting on that patch around May 25,” Patz said. If you want to harvest some food before you’ve even planted your tomatoes, use Patz’s trick: old milk jugs. Patz planted the spinach seeds in a raised bed. She cut the bottoms off of old milk jugs and set them as cloches on top of the…

shed flowers vegetable garden in Niagara Falls

Cool ideas from a garden on Niagara Falls garden walk include keyhole garden

by Connie Oswald Stofko “We want people to come back downtown,” said Ruth Cooper of 12th St., Niagara Falls. “It’s safe here.” That was the message of the Black Squirrel Garden Walk, held July 23 as part of Garden Walk of Niagara Falls, USA. (The Black Squirrel Garden Walk is named that for the black squirrels that you can see in Niagara Falls but aren’t common elsewhere in other parts of Western New York.) The event included a garden walk…

vinca minor in Amherst NY by Stofko

Fungal disease may affect vinca minor, plus more info from Master Gardeners

If you’re noticing dying stems and leaves on your vinca minor (also known as myrtle or periwinkle), it might not be due to the dry weather. It might be a fungal disease. You find out more in the article “Potential Problem with Vinca Minor,” one of the articles in September’s edition of WNY Gardening Matters, produced by the Master Gardeners of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Erie County. In This Month in the Garden, you get tips on planting cool-season crops…

tomato late blight

Late blight can occur even in dry weather, plus three more articles from Master Gardeners

Is tomato late blight and potato late blight possible in a dry year? Unfortunately, yes. Late blight is the fungus-like disease that has caused devastating losses to tomato and potato gardeners and growers in some recent years. It develops and spreads rapidly in a wet year. But high relative humidity is all late blight needs to develop, not rain. If you have late blight, you should take steps to reduce risk to your other plants– and to the plants of…

small waterfall in front yard in Buffalo NY

Eclectic garden changes throughout the seasons

by Connie Oswald Stofko “It’s not meant to look perfect or manicured,” Dr. Kenton Bruce Anderson said of his front yard at 44 Montrose Ave., Buffalo. “It’s meant to be carefree, but look as if somebody takes care of it.” You can see this fun garden on the Samuel P. Capen Garden Walk from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday, July 16. The walk will also feature a night tour called Capen by Night from 8 p.m. – 10 p.m….

onion transplants in West Seneca NY

How to grow onions that are big

by Connie Oswald Stofko A gardener asked me awhile back to do a story on how to grow onions that are big– like the ones you can get in the grocery store. I know nothing about growing onions, so I talked to Jen Weber, retail manager at Mike Weber Greenhouses, 42 French Rd., West Seneca. It’s all in the spacing, Weber said. If you want to grow big onions, plant them far apart. You can start with small onion plants…

vegetables herbs and flowers in pot in West Seneca

Why you should plant veggies in containers, plus a shocking tip on caring for veggies!

by Connie Oswald Stofko First of all, there is still time to plant vegetables. The best time to plant vegetables is the first week in June until about June 10, said Jen Weber, retail manager at Mike Weber Greenhouses, 42 French Rd., West Seneca. The ground is warm, the nights are warm and the danger of frost has passed. So yes, you still have time to plant vegetables, but do it soon–The Fourth of July is too late, she said….

holly raguza, Bugwood.org

Let’s clear up confusion on using bark as mulch, plus tips for May and news on spotted lantern fly

by Connie Oswald Stofko Articles are now available in the May edition of the new online publication called WNY Gardening Matters produced by the Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners in Erie County. These articles are free. The Master Gardeners tell me when the newest articles are available and I share them with you. In this issue are: Woof! No, Bark! You may have heard that using bark as mulch is good because it provides nutrition for your plants, or that…

broccoli in Parkside garden in Buffalo NY

Time to plant seeds indoors for cool weather vegetables

by Connie Oswald Stofko You can plant seeds indoors now for cool-weather vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage, said Julie Emerling, a grower at Lockwood’s Greenhouses, 4484 Clark St., Hamburg. Cool-weather crops are ones that you’re going to plant outside around mid-April, depending on the weather. (Tender crops such as tomatoes and peppers are planted outside after the danger of frost has passed, which is usually Memorial Day or the end of May. It’s too soon to…