Archive for December, 2010

What’s the best way to turn a parking lot into a garden?

An old asphalt parking lot might not seem like a good place for a garden. But in urban areas it can be. It tends to be cheap open land. And an Ohio State University expert on intensive small-scale horticulture has started a three-year study on what works best there. Joe Kovach, who specializes in maximizing fruit and vegetable production in limited spaces, is comparing three ways to do it in empty, abandoned parking lots: in giant-sized pots and in raised beds on top of the blacktop, and in trenches cut right through it. “There are a lot of vacant parking lots in places like Cleveland and Youngstown,” said Kovach, who works at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) in Wooster and holds a joint appointment...    Read More »

Studying sustainability

Not surprisingly, our college is home to numerous classes related to sustainability. One is “Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives & the Environment” (PLANTPTH 597) offered by the Department of Plant Pathology, in which students evaluate contemporary issues such as bio-based fuels and other bio-products; pesticides, diseases and toxins; genetic engineering; invasive species, and how all of those issues may impact our food supply and environment. The class, which includes in-class group discussions and an emphasis on current topics, is a popular one, offered in fall, winter and spring quarters. Learn more at

Tornado-ravaged tree makes great holiday display

An artistic display that now hangs inside the house of Ohio State University President Gordon Gee, utilizes paper birch branches rescued from the rubble of the September 16 tornado that heavily damaged the Wooster campus of the university’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) and its Secrest Arboretum. The paper birch (Betula papyrifera) these branches came from is a native tree that has withstood the test of time in Secrest Arboretum since 1917. The tornado obliterated some 1,500 trees covering one-fourth of the arboretum, returning portions of it to the bareness its founder, Edmund Secrest, found when he came to Ohio in 1905. Secrest’s answer to Ohio’s deforestation and soil erosion problems at th...    Read More »

Organics 101

Our college often teams up with the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) for educational events and programs. A Dec. 10 workshop in Bowling Green is no exception. OEFFA, a non-profit education organization, and our own Organic Food & Farming Education and Research (OFFER) Program, a nationally recognized leader in organic farming research, is presenting “Organics 101: An Introduction to Organic Crop Production” in Bowling Green. The aim is to provide Ohio farmers who are interested in transitioning to organic the information that they need to be successful. See this article from Ohio's Country Journal  ( for more information on the workshop, or see to learn more a...    Read More »

No-till makes sustainable sense

A recent USDA study points to the increasing adoption of no-till on the nation’s major field crops, with an estimated 35 percent of cropland supporting eight major crops planted into no-till. Ohio is following nationwide trends with 80 percent of wheat and soybeans and 20 percent of corn planted into no-till -- and with good reason. The practice of minimally disturbing the soil offers a myriad of benefits, including storing carbon, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions; controlling soil erosion, which reduces run-off; and fostering microbial growth, which improves soil structure and lasting use of the land. For decades Ohio State University Extension has stayed on the pulse of conservation tillage management. One notable effort ...    Read More »