See how worms can help you make compost at biohio 2001

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The lowly worm is a mighty composter. It eats all sorts of organic matter — kitchen scraps and yard waste, for example — and produces “casts” that are great for growing plants.

Visitors to Ohio State’s BioHio 2001 open house, May 10-12, can learn more at the “Recycling Organic Waste with Earthworms” exhibit, one of the more than 60 exhibits, displays and tours at the event.

Ohio State is one of only a few universities in the world doing research on vermicomposting, or composting with earthworms.

Lindsay Paul, a graduate student in horticulture and crop science, said the exhibit will have how-to information on vermicomposting plus bins full of worms that visitors may dig through. Holding the wriggly creatures will be encouraged.

“Kids love to hold worms because they think they’re gross,” Paul said. “Personally, I think they’re cute.” She also thinks they’re underappreciated for the good they do for the soil, plants and people.

The worms will be red wigglers, which “love to eat garbage,” Paul said. That makes them ideal for composting — in your yard or in your home.

“If a family lives in an apartment and can’t have an outdoor compost pile, worms are the answer,” she said. “You can have a plastic bin in the corner and feed your kitchen scraps to the worms. They like it dark, moist and room temperature. The worms in return will give you a material that you can add to your houseplants or just return to nature.”

Her own research focuses on how earthworm casts affect the growth of plants — specifically, vegetable transplants.

“Current research shows us that when you grow plants with earthworm casts, they grow better than in regular potting mix alone,” she said. “The fun part is we don’t know why. My question is, how can we use this in the horticultural industry?”

Vermicomposting helps the environment, too. It cuts the waste that goes into landfills.

“Vermicomposting and my research give me a sense of ‘closing the circle.’ We have so much waste in this world that we must deal with, and vermicomposting this waste gives us a product that has a purpose,” Paul said.

Most of Ohio State’s vermicomposting research is led by Clive Edwards, a professor of entomology who is considered a world expert on the subject. He serves on Paul’s advisory committee. Paul’s advisor is Jim Metzger, professor of horticulture and crop science.

BioHio will take place near Fyffe Road and Woody Hayes Drive on the area of campus that houses the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. The event is sponsored by the college and its components — Ohio State University Extension, the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, the Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute, and Academic Affairs.

Admission and parking are free all three days, hours are 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. For more information, or call (614) 292-3897 or visit site biohio. Parking will be north of the Schottenstein Center off of Fred Taylor Drive in the Special Events Parking Lot. Access to the lot will be from Ackerman Road via state Route 315.

Signs will be posted on state Route 315, Ackerman Road and Lane Avenue to direct visitors to event parking. Buses will shuttle visitors to the event from the parking area.


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