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Fall 2023

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Featured Stories

The Labor-Saving Magic of Not Tidying Up

Let’s say you do all the right things to help those pollinators and other beneficial insects and spiders in your garden. You grow flowers with many different shapes and colors, including lots of natives, with blooms from early spring through late fall. You avoid pesticides. You keep lawn to a minimum. In October, you pat yourself on the back, tidy up for the coming winter, and put your feet up until spring.

But wait! Back up to “tidy”. Tidy for whom? Not for those leg-endowed garden friends you’ve been helping all summer long. Most insects and spiders stick around for the winter, either as eggs, larvae, pupae or adults, and they need a place to live safely. Too much tidying could destroy their winter homes, or worse.

So let’s rethink some of those clean-up chores.

Cutting back perennials: No need to overdo it. The plants don’t mind waiting until spring, and their stems provide winter homes for many tiny critters. Those empty- looking dried flowers . . . Read More

(Photo Debbie Roos, North Carolina Extension)

Spotted Lanternfly in Putnam

A population of spotted lanternfly has been detected in Putnam County. Many residents are asking what can they do?

But before we panic and get out the pesticides first ask if there is something you should be doing. The answer may be only to report their presence.

While there are pesticides labelled for use on this pest in NYS, in the long-run, those pesticides may do more harm than good, especially in light of the numbers of the insects. . . Read more about this insect and how to report it.

(Photo Rebekah D. Wallace)

Magical Enchanter’s Nightshade

At the junction of irony and unbridled fear and evil stands what can be considered a judgement call: the weed. I prefer calling it a wildflower.


It appears stealthily. At the edge of the garden bed we stand, iNaturalist as our sole arm, deciphering leaf size and arrangement, stem and—if we are timely—the flower.


What is this? Does it belong? Is it not essentially wild, grounds for chaos, an anomaly, to be banned from the hortus conclusus, the solidly designed purposeful garden? Certainty is not always on the menu; nature resists being classified. What am I really seeing? . . . Read More.

(Photo Derek Parker via Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

In the Lab: Lilac Problems!

This summer's frequent rains have created perfect conditions for pathogens to thrive. Lilacs in particular have been hard hit. We had frequent reports and photos of lilac foliage with spots, or widespread leaf-drop.

If this happened to you, don't be disheartened. Clean up all fallen, diseased leaves around the base of sick plants. This plant's strength is in its roots and buds. Next year, expected new foliage and stems to emerge from healthy buds.

Fingers crossed, next year is not as wet!

Read more about Lilac Foliar Diseases

Upcoming Events

MGV TV - Gardening Questions Answered

Monday, October 16, 2023, 12:00 PM

Live on the Web

Join Cornell Cooperative Extension Putnam Master Gardener Volunteers as we answer your gardening questions. We will focus on a specific topic. Pick and choose the topics that interest you.

Coming up this month "Putting Your Garden to Bed (But It Never Sleeps.)"

Learn More & Register

Year-Round Composting

Saturday, October 14, 2023, 2:00 PM

Brewster, NY

Temperatures will soon be cooling, but it`s still the season for composting. In fact, composting can be done year-round! Join us this fall to learn how you can decrease what you send to the landfill while creating a free resource for your garden, lawn, landscape. In this hands-on class we`ll show you the composting systems at work in our own garden, build a new pile with you, and review various methods you can use at home. Sign up to learn more about small and home composting with Master Gardener Volunteers.

Register Here

Saving Native Plant Seeds

with Desmond Fish Public Library

Sunday October 15 @ 1:30 pm - 2:30 pm,

Garrison NY

Join us to learn how to responsibly collect native plant seeds for later propagation. Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Volunteers will show you how to collect, separate, and store these seeds so you can increase your garden and create habitat vital for pollinators.

Register Here

Open House on the Farm

Saturday, October 21, 2023, 11:00 AM - 3:00 PM

Brewster, NY

Join Cornell Cooperative Extension for a fun, fall afternoon, with hot apple cider in hand! Check out the animals, antique tractors, join in a 4-H clover scavenger hunt and more!

Sign up and take a walk through the nature trails, visit the Master Gardener Volunteers for gardening tips, make a craft with 4-H members, paint a pumpkin, get your face painted & don't miss Tony's 4-H Creepy Critters!

Learn More & Register

Save the Date : Wreath Making Workshop

Saturday November 18th  from 10 AM to 12 PM 

Putnam Valley, NY

Make a wreath using locally-sourced, natural materials. 

We'll supply the decorative supplies, including grapevine wreath base, dried plants and ribbons, seasonal and holiday accents. And we welcome you to bring your favorites to create your own seasonal masterpiece!

Registration coming soon!

Gardening Questions? No Problem! 


Our Horticulture Hotline and Diagnostic Lab is open, and we're taking samples. You can find sample forms and instructions on our website.

Contact us at: 

Or call (845) 278-6738 and leave a message. 


Consider donating! CCE Putnam is a non-profit organization and we rely on generous neighbors like yourself to continue our work serving Putnam County. 

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