plants in winter in Amherst NY

What you need to know about plant hardiness zones in Western New York

by Connie Oswald Stofko When you’re buying perennials (or trees and shrubs), you want plants that will survive the winter and come back the next year. What plants will work for you depends on where you live. The 2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is the standard that helps you determine which plants are most likely to thrive in your location. You can look at the map to find your zone, or you can type in your street address. The…

pruning tree in winter

Winter is good time to prune trees

Do you have a tree that needs pruning? Winter is a great time to make any necessary cuts, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). It’s easier to see the branches and assess a tree during winter when it doesn’t have its leaves. In addition, pruning when insects aren’t active helps lower the risk of a fungus or disease (such as oak wilt) entering the pruning wound. Learn more about pruning trees here: See the article…

sowing seeds on snow in Western New York

Sow seeds right on top of snow in WNY!

by Connie Oswald Stofko We’ve talked about winter sowing before, and here’s another method for planting seeds outside during winter. I got this great tip from Linda Blyth of the Town of Tonawanda. “This is what we do with poppies, cleome, datura, bells of Ireland and a few others: sprinkle these seeds on top of the snow,” Blyth said. “Why? Because they all need a period of cold in order to germinate! Have you ever tried planting seeds in the spring…

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…

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…

canna lily in Amherst NY

What plants do you overwinter in Western New York?

by Connie Oswald Stofko Canna lilies are tall, impressive plants that I’ve long admired in Western New York gardens. So when I visited the Master Gardener plant sale in Buffalo this spring and saw a whole area with cannas, I toyed with the idea of actually buying one. When a helpful Master Gardener explained the different varieties, I admitted I was hesitant to buy a canna lily because I’m a lazy gardener. I know you have to bring in the…

lettuce and kale plants

Reminder: Plant now for fall, winter crops

by Connie Oswald Stofko You can plant a second crop of cool weather vegetables now in Western New York. As the name implies, cool weather vegetables actually like cooler temperatures. Cool weather vegetables include basil, beans, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, kale, peas, radishes and spinach. Here are some reasons why you should try planting cool weather vegetables now: Plants such as lettuce won’t bolt in the autumn like they do when temperatures get warm in spring. Basil likes warm night temperatures…

daffodil in March snow

Tomatoes & daffodils: when you can’t wait for spring

by Connie Oswald Stofko It seemed like we had winter and summer at the same time last week. There was plenty of snow at our house to make a snowman, and my husband participated while wearing shorts! In spite of that, it’s not spring yet– not even on the calendar! But here are a couple of topics for this time of the year when we can’t wait for spring. A trick to plant (some) seeds outside now Last week we…

seed packets from Botanical Interests

Start seeds now (or soon) for cool weather veggies in WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko You can get a head start on gardening in Western New York by sowing seeds for cool weather vegetables such as onions, endive and cabbage. In this article, Patti Jablonski-Dopkin, general manager of Urban Roots Cooperative Garden Market, 428 Rhode Island St., Buffalo, lays out the details on starting cool weather vegetables from seed. 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…

overall garden in snow by Connie Oswald Stofko

How to make your garden look great in winter

by Connie Oswald Stofko Is your garden exciting in winter? Do you enjoy gazing at all its beautiful features? Or are you one of those people who didn’t even know it’s possible to have a garden that looks great in winter? Today we’ll take a look at a Pendleton garden has been featured on Open Gardens. It’s amazing in the summer, but it sparkles in winter, too! Tom and Darcie Homme had lived in Lockport before they moved 11 years…