graphic for drought watch

7 WNY counties now on ‘drought watch;’ what it means to gardeners

by Connie Oswald Stofko Cattaraugus and Allegany counties were recently added to the list of counties on drought watch, joining these five counties already on the list: Erie, Niagara, Chautauqua, Orleans and Genesee. Wyoming County still has normal water conditions, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). A “watch” is the first of four levels of state drought advisories: “watch,” “warning,” “emergency” and “disaster.” See a map of current drought conditions here. Understanding drought watch A…

collage on climate change

How gardeners can understand & adapt to climate change

by Connie Oswald Stofko What does climate change mean for your garden? As the climate continues to change, how will you, as a gardener, keep up with the changes? This is Climate Week, and in this article we’ll bring you some resources to help you understand climate change and adapt as a gardener. Ebook on climate change for gardeners What do you see when you look at your garden? A flower here, a tree there, a butterfly over yonder? Your…

sprinkler in summer by Stofko

Deal with summer heat in your garden

by Connie Oswald Stofko Remember that snow we got in May? We couldn’t wait for sunny, summer weather in Western New York. Well, it’s here– in full force! Let’s look at some ways you can keep your garden–and yourself– healthy and happy during this summer heat. Water your plants “Watering is number one on the list for this week,” said John Farfaglia, extension educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Niagara County. “In this heat, water loss from evaporation from the soil…

hail damage on hostas

Will your hostas & other plants recover from hail damage in WNY?

by Connie Oswald Stofko I was one of the gardeners who experienced hail last week– it was the size of fat M&Ms! That wasn’t the only setback weather brought to Western New York gardeners in the past few weeks. “Some of us got hit with a five-day period of frost and freeze in mid-May,” said Kathy Guest Shadrack, board member and communication liaison with the Western New York Hosta Society. “Sadly, this came after a long period of abnormally warm…

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…

snowless garden and snowy garden

How to deal with warm-then-cold winter weather

by Connie Oswald Stofko We got snow in November, then it melted. In late December, the weather was surprisingly warm, with air temperatures reaching the high 50s. The grass looked so green! Then the temperatures hit lows in the teens. This past weekend we got socked with snow. One thing you can say for weather in Western New York– it’s not boring. Here are some things you can do to deal with these changes in winter weather. Protect your plants…

clouds

Measure a tree or take a photograph of clouds for NASA

You can contribute important scientific data to NASA and help scientists studying Earth and the global environment. While NASA can use tools such as satellites, citizen scientists like you can add data that they don’t have. Use the GLOBE Observer App. It currently includes four main tools: Clouds, Trees, Mosquito Habitat Mapper and Land Cover. Clouds By photographing clouds, recording sky observations and comparing them with NASA satellite data, you can help scientists gain a new perspective on clouds that satellites…

garden in snow by Stofko

Winter makes a surprise visit—What it means for your garden

by Connie Oswald Stofko Last week, I told you it was it was leaf season and gave you ideas on how to use all those autumn leaves. But before we could get the leaves raked — many leaves are still on the trees! — we got snow that broke records for Nov. 11. So what does all this snow mean for your garden? Snow provides insulation — yay! “I don’t think this is going to be a bad thing,” said…

petunias, ranunculus and other cool-weather plants

Plant some things now; others have to wait until after last frost—or longer

by Connie Oswald Stofko Here is a question that I received from a reader: Hello, I saw that the last frost for my area (in Hamburg) is possible as late as May 22; should I really wait so long to plant anything?  Mariely Ann Ortiz Actually, there are lots of things you can plant outside right now! But some things have to wait until after the last frost — or even longer. And that date you have of May 22…

monarch caterpillar

Help scientists through Caterpillars Count!

Due to climate change, the growing season in Western New York starts earlier than it did in the past. Are caterpillars and birds emerging earlier as well? Caterpillars Count!, a citizen science project, could use your help to find out if plants, insects and birds are all responding to ongoing changes in climate to the same degree. You can participate by counting arthropods such as caterpillars, beetles and spiders through Wild Spirit Education, located at 11511 Bixby Hill Rd., Delevan. You can also count…