BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — The Lucas Soil & Water Conservation District is preparing residents for gardening season.
April is National Gardening Month and Native Plant Month. Lucas SWCD is helping residents with a one-stop shop to prepare for the gardening season and make their yards welcoming to native animals and insects.
“People can get all different native plants, but they can also get things for their property like rain barrels, composters. It’s kind of a one-stop shop,” said Jessica Grisier, Lucas SWCD administrative assistant. “We’re trying to give people the opportunity to get a lot of things.”
Several native flowers, trees and shrubs like bergamot, New England aster, elderberry, sycamore and eastern redbud are available in the online shop found on the lucasswcd.org website.
The products are on sale through Friday, May 6 and will be available for pickup on Friday, May 13 at the Lucas County Fairgrounds, 1406 Key St., Maumee.
“There’s a lot of non-native or invasive things in yards that are not necessarily beneficial at all for wildlife,” Grisier said. “People love native plants and it’s a really popular sale.
Regardless of what plants people plan to put in their yards, a bit of prep work is helpful.
Soil testing determines what fertilizers residents might – or might not – need. Composters and rain barrels are helpful for sustainability and possibly saving money. All of these items are offered through the Lucas SWCD sale.
“Soil testing is important because it gives people that baseline: What do I have in my soil? How do I need to amend it? What do I not want to put into it?” Grisier said. “People sometimes add fertilizers when they don’t need to add fertilizer, so that adds to the nutrient load when you don’t necessarily need that. That’s another great resource that we offer, the soil testing information.”
Soil test kits can be ordered during the native plant sale. Once collected, test samples are then sent to Michigan State University’s lab for results. The soil tests help residents determine what they need to make their soil beneficial for the incoming plants, but composters and rain barrels can be helpful after planting.
“Penny (Bollin), our urban conservation technician, is working on rain barrels and rain barrel workshops, where people can come and make their own rain barrels and learn about why they’re useful,” Grisier said. “There are economic benefits because it’s saving them money reusing rainwater rather than having to use treated water you get through the hoses and taps.”
The staff has several informative packets and can guide residents through the use of the composters they purchase, too.
“We are a wealth of knowledge and information on a lot of different topics,” Grisier said.
The Lucas SWCD helps residents with more than just their gardens and plants, though.
“We work with a lot of other organizations,” Grisier said. “In partnering, there’s a lot of really great agencies in the area that we all kind of work together on a lot of different projects.”
The partnerships with the OSU Extension Office, a local rain garden initiative and several other organizations allow the staff to quickly find an expert to answer all questions residents may have.
The staff members at Lucas SWCD are also prepared to help with the identification of plants, how to manage them or advise on any number of items in the yard. They can be reached by phone at (419) 893-1966 or in person at 130-A W. Dudley St. in Maumee from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.