Thursday, August 1, 2013

Demystifying straw bale gardening

By Katharine Fletcher

Joel Karsten explains how you can grow fruit and veggies using this addictive technique

Joel Karsten’s book, Straw Bale Gardens, which I reviewed here, is, in my opinion, a good read. It is liberally illustrated with photographs plus drawings depicting how to best design a straw bale garden. But I had questions. Why bother? Straw bales are heavy, prickly and large. Why not stick with raised or flat-bed gardens and soil? Karsten, a horticulture graduate from the University of Minnesota, agreed to an interview, first explaining how he got hooked:

“I remember seeing bales decomposing next to our barn, even as a young kid of eight or nine, and I noticed how the biggest weeds grew in them,” says Karsten who started experimenting with growing vegetables in bales in 1993. “Necessity is often the mother of invention, and after having purchased a home with very poor soil in the backyard which was inadequate for a vegetable garden, I sought alternatives. Making major soil improvements is very expensive and as a young homeowner that wasn’t an option. So, I turned to the straw bales, and my experiments proved they work extremely well as a substrate.”
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Read the full story on the Canadian Gardening website.

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