BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — The Lucas Soil and Water Conservation District (Lucas SWCD) has several fall programs underway to enhance the health and wellness of pollinators such as the monarch butterfly, as well as both large and small gardens and ponds throughout the area.
With an office located in uptown Maumee, the organization serves over 450,000 people living in Lucas County through programming, technical assistance, education and information. Focusing on the health and well-being of this area’s land and water resources, Lucas SWCD assists both the agricultural side of the county as well as the urban-residential side, said Jessica Grisier, administrative assistant.
“Our goal is to be a source of information for the community regarding conservation and natural resources so we can be better stewards of the land,” she said.
The organization is run by a publicly elected five-member board and the conservation work depends on voluntary funding from the Lucas County Board of Commissioners, local townships and municipalities and individual donors.
Among the programs currently underway are milkweed pod collection, a fall cover crop sale, a pond clinic and a fish sale.
Milkweed Pod Collection
The Lucas SWCD is partnering with the Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative to collect milkweed seed pods. The organization is serving as a drop-off site for anyone interested in donating collected pods.
Milkweed is essential to the survival of monarch butterflies, and Ohio is a priority breeding area for monarchs. The monarch butterflies that hatch here in the late summer migrate to Mexico for the winter and are responsible for starting the life cycle all over again in the spring.
“Everyone is encouraged to collect fully mature, dry milkweed pods from established plants,” said Grisier. “The seeds are then redistributed to establishing pollinator habitat.”
Seed pods from common milkweed should be collected when the pods are dry and gray or brown in color. If the center seam pops with gentle pressure, they can be picked. The pods should be placed in a paper bag and may be dropped off at the Lucas SWCD Maumee office through Saturday, October 31.
Fall Cover Crop Sale
Lucas SWCD has partnered with Walnut Creek Seeds to offer two fall cover crops: a garden late cover multi-species mix and Austrian winter pea. Both are well-suited for gardens in Northwest Ohio, said Grisier.
“Cover crops planted in the fall help protect the soil over winter and revitalize it for spring planting,” she said. “The fall cover crops are designed for any size garden. The roots hold the soil in place to prevent erosion in a larger garden, but the same concept goes for a small garden. With rain and snow, the soil can wash away. The roots of cover crops also create pathways for good microorganisms like worms.”
Cover crops also enhance the soil after they die and break down, she said.
“When the plants die in the winter, the residue will break down and add organic matter to the soil, which is really good for the plants in the following season because it is added nutrients,” Grisier said.
Each cover crop mix ranges from $6.00 to $7.00 per pound bag. The deadline to preorder is Friday, September 25. To place an order, go to www.LucasSWCD.org/covercrops or call the office at (419) 893-1966.
The purchase requires preordering and cash, check or credit card is accepted. Mixes may be picked up at the Lucas SWCD on or after Friday, October 9.
The annual pond clinic is designed for all current and future pond owners or developers to learn about best management practices for creating and maintaining habitat, fish stocking, weed control and other aspects of maintenance. Having a healthy pond helps to increase the overall quality and in turn, enjoyment of the pond, Grisier said.
“The goal is to provide an informative one-hour session for folks to just learn more about pond management or to have questions answered,” she said.
The event is free, and while it is geared to larger-sized ponds, anyone having trouble or issues with a pond – even a garden pond – is welcome to participate and ask questions, Grisier said.
This year’s guest speaker is Eugene Braig, program director of The Ohio State University Extension Aquatics Ecosystems Program.
The fall 2020 pond clinic will be held virtually via Zoom on Tuesday, September 29 at 6:30 p.m. The pond clinic is free and open to anyone; however, preregistration is required to receive the link and attend the virtual meeting via Zoom.
Visit www.LucasSWCD.org/pond-clinic to register.
Lucas SWCD is partnering with Fender’s Fish Hatchery of Baltic, Ohio, to offer new and established pond owners the opportunity to stock their ponds conveniently and at a low cost through the annual fall fish sale.
Anyone considering stocking their pond in the near future should take advantage of this opportunity. There will be five different types of fish fingerlings, ranging in size from 1 to 6 inches, depending on species, and all of the fish are available through the sale for less than $1.00 each.
“We want to offer community members fish at an affordable price. It is a convenient way to stock their ponds and a good opportunity to ask questions.”
The species available include largemouth bass, yellow perch, channel catfish, bluegill and fathead minnows.
“We are sourcing fish where we know they are doing the right thing and so we know that people are getting the right fish. If people are enjoying the pond, they will appreciate it more and take care of our natural resources,” Grisier said.
The deadline to preorder fish is Friday, October 16. The pickup date is Tuesday, October 20 from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Lucas SWCD office. To place an order, visit www.LucasSWCD.org/fishsale or call or stop by the office in Maumee. This sale requires preordering and cash, check or credit card is accepted.
The Lucas County Soil and Water Conservation District is located at 130 W. Dudley St., Ste. A, near Jacky’s Depot. The office may also be reached by phone at (419) 893-1966 or online at www.LucasSWCD.org.