"The Dirt"
A Resource for Local Conservation 
Spring is Coming! Gardening Spotlight: Home Composting
Did you start a garden last year during quarantine? Are you a home gardener looking for a way to lower fertilizer costs and reduce household waste? Composting is a great way to reduce waste while creating a valuable source of nutrients for use in your garden, or to share with another gardener! Food scraps and yard waste together make up more than 30 percent of what we throw away1. These organic waste items can be composted, instead of taking up space in landfills. Composting can also provide a great science lesson for children, and a fun family project.

There are three elements that a compost pile requires to thrive. These include green inputs (high in nitrogen, including items such as food scraps, coffee grounds, green grass and yard clippings), browninputs (high in carbon, such as dead leaves, twigs and other dry ingredients), and water. These three components in complementary proportions, will keep your compost pile fed, happy and properly composting, to avoid odor, and to generate excellent organic compost. 

Composting can be a trial-and-error type of experiment. It took me quite a few tries to get my compost pile active. Do not be discouraged! Compost starters can be purchased to enhance the decomposition process if you are having trouble getting the process moving. If your pile does not appear to be doing what it should, consider:
  • Are the ‘ingredients’ rotting instead of decomposing? This is likely a result of too many “green” nitrogen inputs and not enough dry, brown, carbon ingredients.
  • Is it too dry? This could just mean that the pile needs water added or that a new location could be beneficial so it does not dry out as quickly.
  • Too wet? It could benefit from more carbon (brown) inputs and more frequent turning of the pile to increase aeration.
Also of importance, note that there are a few items that should NOT be put into a compost pile. These include: dairy products, meats, bones, pet wastes, and yard trimmings that may have been exposed to chemical herbicides or pesticides if you plan to use the compost for growing food. These items may generate smells that will attract animals to the pile, or harbor bacteria.

Getting Started:
Location is very important. The pile should be located in a shady area where it will not dry out too quickly. Build or purchase an enclosure to discourage wildlife and pests from accessing the pile. Start the pile with a layer of twigs, branches or wood chips at the base to encourage aeration. When adding green ingredients to the pile, top that with a layer of brown materials. This layering system is the best way to keep the pile active. It is important to regularly check the moisture level. The pile should stay moist but never soggy. Too much water may lead to rot, and too little can slow the decomposition. Turning the pile regularly will increase aeration and speed up the process. The composting timeline can vary greatly. If you will be using the compost in a garden, it can be incorporated much earlier, even when there are still a few recognizable leaves or twigs in the mix. If you plan to use it in indoor planting mixes or for starting seeds, you will want a more mature compost and may even benefit from screening it to remove any larger pieces to create a fine compost mix.

To build and maintain and healthy compost pile, keep in mind:
Green ingredients, Brown ingredients, Water and Aeration!

Image credit: Landscape For Life
Source and link for additional information on composting:
Upcoming Workshop:

Stormwater Maintenance for HOAs and Property Management Companies
The Bucks, Chester, Delaware & Montgomery County Conservation Districts, in partnership with the Southeast PA RC&D Council, invite you to attend a free virtual workshop:

March 17th
9:00 am - 11:00 am

Intended audience: Home Owners Associations and property management companies


AGENDA TOPICS:

  • Maintenance to ensure long term functionality of stormwater facilities
  • Stormwater management responsibilities - a legal perspective
  • Complying with and terminating your NPDES permit
  • Q&A following presentations

PRESENTERS:

Shannon Healey
Resource Conservationist, Chester County Conservation District

Jeffery Wert P.E.
Principal, President, Metz Engineers

Carl N. Weiner, Esquire
Hamburg, Rubin, Mullin, Maxwell & Lupin, P.C.

Zachary Shearon, P.E.
Director of Civil Engineering, Shearon Environmental Design
Spotted Lanternfly Update
The Spotted lanternfly, an invasive pest from Asia, will be hatching out and visible in the nymph form, in the next few months. All of Montgomery County is within the known infestation and quarantine zone. Penn State Extension is your go-to for Spotted Lanternfly education. Click here to check out their website for more information and to learn what you can do on your own property to control the infestation. At this time, egg mass scraping is the best control measure, prior to spring hatching. A single egg mass can hold 3 to 50 eggs.
Conservation Planting Tool Trailer Available for Use
Will your organization and its volunteers be implementing and/or maintaining a tree planting, rain garden installation, invasive species plant removal, or stormwater basin project? Looking for the tools and equipment necessary to successfully (and safely) implement a conservation project?

The Conservation District can provide a fully stocked Conservation Planting Trailer for free use during your project!

The tool trailer is stocked with several gasoline augers, spade shovels, post drivers, weed trimmers, pruners and other commonly used tools and equipment necessary to help implement a successful project. The trailer and its contents can also be stored and locked up overnight at your project site to make access to tools and equipment as convenient as possible!

The tool trailer is available to reserve free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis. Organizations using the trailer will be required to tow the trailer from the Montgomery County Conservation District office in Collegeville to their project site and back. The trailer requires a 2-inch ball hitch tow setup. The tow vehicle needs to be able to safely tow 3,000 lbs.

Please contact Brian Vadino with interest in using the tool trailer, at 610-489-4506 x 15 or bvadino@montgomeryconservation.org.

The Conservation Planting Trailer is a project of the Southeastern PA RC&D Council. Funding for the project was provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (Environmental Stewardship Fund), and several other project sponsors.
Multifunctional Riparian Buffer Grant Program Still Open!
Grant funding available for multifunctional riparian buffers!

The Montgomery County Conservation District is eligible to apply for funding from the PA Association of Conservation Districts/DCNR to assist landowners in installing “Multifunctional Riparian Buffers” on their properties. The grant is first come, first served and will stay open until funds are exhausted or December 31, 2022 (whichever comes first).

The goal of this program is to help Pennsylvania meet the goal of installing an additional 95,000 acres of forested buffers by 2025. PA DCNR defines a Multifunctional Riparian Buffer as “a riparian forest buffer that provides opportunities for harvesting products such as nuts, berries, woody florals, forbs, and potentially woody biomass.” Inputs such as fertilizer or manure would not be permitted, and harvesting would not be permitted in the first 15 feet of the buffer from the edge of the streambank. An overall minimum width of 35 feet is recommended.

Conservation Districts can apply for funding on behalf of landowners, municipalities, public or private institutions or local watershed organizations who are willing to enter into a landowner agreement and committed to maintaining the buffer for at least twenty-five years. For more information, please contact Brian Vadino at 610-489-4506 x 15 or email bvadino@montgomeryconservation.org.

Financial and other support for this project is provided by the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts, Inc. through a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Recreation and Conservation.
Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy’s
Annual Stream Clean-Up - Saturday April 10th!
Looking to make a positive difference in the health of our local environment? Sign-up for the Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy’s annual Stream Clean-up and assist with removing trash, tires and other debris from regional waterways.

Saturday, April 10th from 9 am – 12 pm

With over 100 clean-up sites throughout the watershed, it is easy to find a site that works best for you! Sites can accommodate a large number of volunteers so be sure to bring your friends, family, and co-workers. Or, if you have pick-up truck, volunteer as a pick-up crew member to haul trash from the sites to the dumpsters from 12 pm – 3 pm. All volunteers will be required to wear face masks and practice social distancing during the event. 

Visit our website www.perkiomenwatershed.org/stream-clean-up today to learn more and sign-up!
PA DEP's NPDES Program ePermitting System has gone LIVE!
The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has developed a web-based application for the submission of applications and Notices of Intent (NOIs) for the Chapter 102 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits. The system is now live. At this time, only brand new project applications and submissions that were originally submitted through the ePermitting system may submit permit amendments, revisions, or renewals through the ePermitting system. 

Applicants will need to register to use the ePermit system through the State's GreenPort website, and then will grant access to their design professionals who put together the submission.

For Information on how to obtain a username / password for the GreenPort System, refer to the GreenPort User Guide. For technical support related to the ePermit system, contact DEP’s Application Help Desk during their normal business hours (8:30-4:30) at (717) 787-HELP or via https://www.depgreenport.state.pa.us/gpl/home/contactus.

Once logged in, you will see your dashboard. This screen summarizes all of the pending and completed authorizations and identifies any correction notices for NOIs under review that you are able to view and modify. There may be several tabs at the top of the Dashboard including Drafts, Submitted, Correction Required, Approved, or Withdrawn/Denied. The Draft tab will contain projects that are pending and have not yet been submitted to DEP/CCD for review. The Submitted tab has NOIs that have been submitted to DEP and are waiting to be reviewed. The Correction Required tab will contain NOIs which have been reviewed and returned for correction. The Approved tab will contain NOIs that have been approved / acknowledged for coverage. The Withdraw/Denied tab will show any NOIs for which coverage under the PAG-02 permit was denied.  

All of the information in this article is available with complete instructions including diagrams, tips, and a detailed explanation of how to navigate the submission of a permit NOI or Application in the ePermit User Guide. Click here to download the guide.
Due to COVID-19, our office remains closed to the public at this time. Thank you for your understanding.