Creating Garden Paths

By Mary Lu Wells

Paths take you from point A to point B. Paths are for wandering. They are functional. They can also be a part of a garden making it more beautiful. When making paths in your garden pathgardens, remember, they should fit your style.  A formal garden is made up of straight paths and right angles. Concrete, bricks and slate pavers look very well in this type of setting. A Japanese garden calls for meandering paths covered in bark or gravel.  Even paths between the veggie rows can look good covered with hay or leaf mulch.

Some paths are relatively permanent, others need yearly renewal. A grass path will need steady maintenance, others a sweeping now and then.  Permanent paths made of concrete, brick or slate requires a good foundation:

  1. 4” of gravel and 2” of sand.
  2. Then an edging to keep it in place.

When constructing gravel or bark paths:

  1. Outline your path on the existing sod.
  2. Remove the topsoil.
  3. Then install an edger to help the gravel or bark from migrating into your yard.
  4. Removing the sod will keep the weeds down, but for a more permanent solution to weeds, you can install an underlayment fabric that allows water to infiltrate, but stops weeds.
  5. Add the top layer of your choice (bark, or gravel).

If you install a bark or mulch, realize that these will decompose and need to be replaced periodically.

When making any type of path, how wide should you make it? For working paths (equipment friendly) make them at least 3’ wide. Single file paths can manage with a foot but two is better. If you like the look of stepping stones, make sure they are well seated and match your stride, so you can stroll freely.

Paths will keep your feet off the crumbly, air filled earth. That is good for the soil and good for the plants. Fall is a great time to make a path – so – happy trails!

Photo: Mary Lu Wells

The Pawpaw Tree

By: Veronica Lantana, Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardener

I have never eaten a pawpaw nor had even thought about growing this unique fruit.  But recently I have been hearing gardening experts enthusiastically extolling their virtues. The pawpaw (Asimina triloba) is native to Eastern US and can be grown from Zone 5-8 with a range down to -20 F; although some nurseries list pawpaw’s as surviving in Zone 4. pawpaw It is a small tree that usually grows 15 to 20 feet.  It has large tropical-looking leaves and maroon flowers.  The fruit is the star though, producing large clusters of delicious produce.  Some people describe the pawpaw flavor as vanilla custard, mango-meets-banana, and pineapple.  Lee Reich, author of Grow Fruit Naturally, maintains its flavor is like crème brulee!

If you need any further reasons to grow the pawpaw, here are a few more:

  • It is one of the easiest fruits to grow in the northeast; the pawpaw is also one of the fastest growing.
  • Fruit can begin to be harvested anywhere from 2-5 years depending upon the variety and you can expect approximately 50 pounds of fruit per mature tree.
  • The pawpaw is basically pest free and it requires no pruning except for suckers.
  • Deer do not like the taste of the pawpaw and tend to leave it alone after a few bites.
  • It is one of the few caterpillar host plants for our beautiful native Zebra Swallowtail.

There are several considerations, however, if you decide to grow your own pawpaw trees.  In some areas pawpaw trees are considered understory trees, however, in our New York climate it is better to provide your trees with lots of sun. Note: It needs pampering in the first 1-3 years while the root system becomes established – this means watering and shading – then it takes right off on its own. Pawpaws are NOT self-fertile, meaning they need two “unrelated” trees for cross-pollination to get fruit set. Because bees have little interest in pawpaw flowers, growers are known to hang rotting pieces of meat in pawpaw trees to attract flies that happily pollinate the flowers.

Cornell University is a good source to find recommended pawpaw varieties as it is important to choose early ripening varieties (www.fruit.cornell.edu/mfruit/pawpaw).  Recommended cultivars for New York include: ‘Davis,’ ‘Sunflower,’ ‘Taylor,’ ‘Pennsylvania Golden,’ and ‘Taytwo.’ There are gardening blogs devoted to pawpaw topics, and many discuss favorite flavored varieties such as ‘Havlin,’ ‘Overleese,’ and ‘Summer Delight.’  Purchase your pawpaw from a reputable nursery that provides named varieties.

I hope you will consider choosing the pawpaw tree for that just-right space in your yard.  Before you know it, you will be searching the hundreds of pawpaw recipes on the Internet to make good use of your fruit.

Photo: USDA-ARS

How to Create Your Own Vineyard

Cornell University Cooperative Extension of Allegany County in conjunction with Cornell University Regional Grape Program staff is hosting an Introduction to IPM and Managing Vineyard Pests Workshop for existing and potential commercial grape growers. This half day program will be held Nov. 6th (Thursday) from 8:30-12:30. Luke Haggarty, Cornell Viticulture Extension Specialist and Tim Viegle, Cornell Statewide Grape IPM Specialist, will be presenting at the workshop. This is a regional workshop and interested parties from surrounding areas are encouraged to attend.

Topics will cover:

  • how to select the best site for growing grapes,
  • environmentally and economically sensible ways to protect crops from insects,
  • selecting the grape varieties that will grow in your climate and,
  • how to plant your grapes and establish the structure for their optimal growth.

Growers are encouraged to ask questions and actively participate in the course. NYSDEC pesticide credits have been applied for in categories 1a, 10, and 22.

Cost of the program is $15.00 per person or $25.00 for two people from the same farm/household. Pre-registration is required.

What: Introduction to IPM and Managing Vineyard Pests Workshop
When: Nov. 6th (Thursday), 2014
Where: Cornell Cooperative Extension Belmont Office (5435A County Road 48, Belmont NY)
Time: 8:30 A.M. – 12:30 P.M.
Cost: $15.00 per person or $25.00 for 2 people from the same farm/household. Pre-registration is required. Call 585-268-7644.

October is BQA Month!

Attention:  Beef Producers

Get BQA Certified & Qualify for a Chance to Win $250 of BI Animal Health Products!

Producers who certify or recertify during the BQA Month promotion will be entered in a drawing  for a Grand Prize $250 gift certificate for Boehringer Ingelheim animal health products and additional prizes of $10 gift certificates for two 50lb bags of FrameWork Mineral courtesy of Kent Feeds. In addition, every producer attending  BQA training during the BQA month promotion will receive a coupon toward Merial animal health products.

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Allegany County will be hosting BQA training on Tuesday, October 14, 2014. .The program will be held at the Alfred State College Farm on Route 244 in Alfred, NY from 6-9:30 PM. Pre-registration is requested. Fee to cover the cost of training materials and supplies is $13/person which includes BQA manual or $3/person without the manual. Youth aged 14 and over can be certified; 4-H and FFA members are encouraged to attend.

To register for the event, send a check payable to CCE Allegany County and mail to: 5435A County Rd 48, Belmont, NY 14813, attention Lynn Bliven. For questions, please call 585-268-7644 ext 18, lao3@cornell.edu. The Beef Quality Assurance Program is supported by The Beef Checkoff.

Cornell Cooperative Extension provides equal program and employment opportunities. Accommodations for persons with disabilities may be requested by calling the Belmont Office at (585) 268-7644 or Ellicottville Office at (716) 699-2377.

Time to Protect Your Plants from Frost

Mark Holt, Community Educator, Agriculture/Horticulture
Cornell University Cooperative Extension of Allegany and Cattaraugus Counties

Historical data from the National Weather Service indicates that many areas of Allegany and Cattaraugus Counties will have their first frost of the season within the next two weeks.  While it’s sad to see the traditional gardening season come to an end, you may be able to extend your gardening season a bit longer with careful attention to the weather forecast and a little extra work to protect tender plants.

Frost forms first in low-lying areas.  Cold air is denser than warm air, so the colder air settles in low-lying areas of your landscape and garden.  Tender plants in these areas need protection to survive frosts.  Sloping areas tend to frost less often, as it is more difficult for the cold air to settle there.

As air cools, moisture condenses out of it and settles as dew.  When the temperature of plant surfaces falls to 32 degrees, dew will freeze and frost will form on the plant.  Frost is more likely to form on cloudless nights without wind.  A cloudy night tends to stay a bit warmer, as hot air is trapped closer to the earth’s surface.

Tender plants such as annuals and warm season vegetables are subject to frost damage.  A heavy (killing) frost can even kill these non-hardy plants.  Frost damage or death occurs when the moisture in the plant cells freezes and damages the cell walls.  When the plant thaws, the damaged cells lose their ability to support the plant and transport water and nutrients.

Frost can occur even when the air temperature is above freezing, due to cold air settling, microclimate variations, and other factors.  Many frosts occur when the air temperature is in the mid-30s.  The extent of damage to your plants will depend on the type and hardiness of the plant, the maturity of the plant (older plant tissue is less subject to freeze damage than newer tissue), duration of the frost, and other factors.

To protect from frost damage, cover your plants.  If plants are in containers, move them into a protected area or indoors.  You can cover individual plants or a whole row of plants with burlap, bed sheets, plastic sheets, milk jugs, inverted flower pots, or anything else that will preserve stored heat and prevent dew from settling on the plants.  Protective sheeting material is most effective when supported above the plants by some sort of a frame or even individual stakes.  But if necessary, it can be laid directly on the plants and still provide some protection.  Even the spun polyester “floating row covers” available at garden centers can offer 4-5 degrees of protection against freezing temperatures and frost.

Remember to cover your plants before nightfall, as much of the stored heat from the day will be lost by dusk.  After the frost has melted in the morning, remove the covers so the plants don’t overheat.   You can collect extra heat during the day by painting empty milk jugs black and filling them with water.  Place them near the plants in your garden.  The jugs will slowly radiate heat during the night under the protective cover.

Container plants are particularly susceptible to frost damage because their root systems are limited and the above-ground container is exposed to rapidly fluctuating air temperatures.  Move container plants indoors or into a protected area, or sink the container into the ground, or wrap both the plant and the container in burlap to protect from freezing temperatures.

Further information on this and other gardening topics is available from Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Volunteers in Allegany and Cattaraugus Counties.  Contact a Master Gardener by telephone or e-mail:

Allegany County:  (585) 268-7644 x23, e-mail:  alleganymg@cornell.edu

Cattaraugus County: (716) 699-2377 x127, e-mail:  cattaraugusmg@cornell.edu