Leave Those Leaves Alone

By Clermont County Office of Environmental Quality

Every year nearly 8 million tons of leaves end up buried in landfills across the United States. Due to a lack of oxygen, those leaves are unable to decompose quickly and instead release methane gas. However, when fallen leaves are left in your yard they can decompose faster and leave behind organic matter that greatly enhances soil health. Leaves are full of nutrients that will make your lawn thrive, including potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen. While ditches, driveway culverts, and storm drains still need to be kept clear of leaves and other debris to prevent flooding, wildlife and lawn experts agree that when it comes to your lawn it is usually better to skip the raking and bagging and leave those leaves in place!

Chopping up blankets of leaves with a lawn mower may be necessary to thin out the material and break the leaves down quickly. This is important because thick layers of leaves left on your lawn blocks out the sunlight which is needed for photosynthesis. Excess leaves can be raked around trees and shrubs in 3 – 6 inch deep piles or into a landscape bed or garden and used for mulch. Combining fallen leaves with grass clippings and other organic green material can also produce nutrient-rich compost.

Visit the Adams-Clermont Solid Waste District’s website at www.OEQ.net to learn more about home composting and other yard waste disposal options in Clermont County.

Clermont SWCD Now Taking Plant Sale Orders

Each year, the Clermont Soil & Water Conservation District offers tree and native shrub seedlings, as well as a few native perennials at discount prices. This program gives landowners the opportunity to develop small areas of reforestation, provide habitat for wildlife enhancement, or native additions to home landscaping.

Most of the seedlings offered are 12 to 24 inch ‘whips’. Tree and shrub seedlings will be bare rooted; we dip the plants in a root preservative to help keep the roots from drying out and wrap them in a plastic bag. Most packets will be in a bag about the size of a grocery bag and can easily be placed in your car for pick up.  Perennials are sold as ‘plugs’. The plugs we are offering are approximately 2” in diameter and a robust 4.5” deep. For detailed descriptions and photo’s, please visit our store website.

Rain Barrels are also offered this year. The use of rain barrels lowers the municipal water demands and saves energy at water treatment facilities by reducing water pollution and storm water runoff.

For the second year, we have partnered with the Adams-Clermont Solid Waste District and are offering Earth Machine Compost Bins. The bins can be reserved on our plant sale website however you will pay for the bins on the pickup dates below. They will be accepting payment the day of pickup. For more information on the compost bins please click HERE.

The plant sale website is now available; click HERE. Orders Will be Taken Until May 2nd OR until stock runs out. Please order early to guarantee availability.

Pick up Dates: Thursday, May 4, 2023 Noon-6:30 p.m. & Friday, May 5, 2023oon-4:30 p.m.

Clermont County Fair Grounds, Commercial Building

1000 Locust Street Owensville, OH 45160

Please be sure to make arrangements to pick up orders on these dates.

For questions contact Connie Miller (513) 732-7075 Ext. 2 or cmiller@clermontcountyohio.gov

Food Waste Stinks!

Clermont SWCD conducted a series of food waste audits at schools around the county to assess how much food is thrown out in a lunch period. Food waste is a huge issue, especially for schools who bear the brunt of the costs not only in the food that is thrown away, but again when they pay for the waste to be hauled away. In addition to the financial strain of food waste, wasted food can be a hefty burden to the community since it means a loss of natural resources used for growing, processing, packing, and transporting.

In a series of four audits conducted at Pattison Elementary in Milford, and Merwin Elementary and West Clermont Middle School in the West Clermont School District, students were guided in the process of sorting, weighing, and analyzing how much food was thrown out in each lunch period. An average of 94lbs of food was wasted each lunch period or about half a pound of food waste per student. Milk was reported to be the highest wasted food item with a total of 152lbs thrown out across all four audits. Clermont SWCD staff plans to continue conducting audits through the next school year and work with the school districts to find ways to reduce the total waste generated.

Earth Machine Compost Bins Available

When most people hear the word ‘compost’, they automatically think of a smelly pile of moldy food. However, when done correctly, composting does not smell bad and is a sanitary way to dispose of organic waste. There are many excellent reasons to compost and the greater Cincinnati area has numerous resources available to assist you on your composting journey. Composting yard, garden, and food waste at home saves transportation and disposal cost, and provides an environmentally sound way to manage waste, since yard waste makes up to 30% of the municipal solid waste stream.  In addition, composting can provide excellent fertilizer for gardens, yards, and other plants.  Adding compost to your garden will increase drainage and provide a continuous source of nutrients required for plant health.

There are many different ways to start composting and no matter what your restrictions may be, there is a composting method that will work for you. At the most basic level, composting can happen when materials are placed in a mound and left alone. If you want a faster or more contained system, you can consider building or purchasing a composting bin. It is not necessary to have a bin, however, it can make it easier to turn the pile, keep the pile manageable, and remove finished compost. You can make your own bin out of wood or fencing and posts. You can also purchase a compost bin that is an enclosed system which will produce usable compost typically in less than a month. These types of bins include rolling bins, tumblers, enclosed bins, and worm bins. If you are interested in purchasing a composting bin, the Office of Environmental Quality currently has Earth Machine compost bins available for purchase for $46. Contact Hannah Lubbers (513) 732-7894 x 4 or hlubbers@clermontcountyohio.gov for more details.

Composting can be an easy and cost effective way to improve the soil quality in your gardens and help your landscaping thrive. No matter how you choose to compost your organic waste, know that you are doing your part to help reduce the amount of waste that goes to our landfills.