This Week's Podcast: A Rebroadcast: Straw Bale Vegetable Gardening with Joel Karsten
Click on the small black arrow on the bar to listen, or the MP3 to download the show:This week’s guest is Joel Karsten who is an evangelical advocate for straw bale gardening. He has been experimenting with growing vegetables -- not in the ground, raised beds or containers -- but in straw bales. He has around 20 on his residential lot near Minneapolis where the existing soil isn’t great.
He buys bales of straw, about 48” long x 24” tall and 18”wide. Then he goes through a process of conditioning beginning by completely saturating the bales with water. He adds nitrogen in any form, for example, well-rotted chicken manure, washes that into the straw, and continues to hydrate them for about 10 to 12 days.
The bales begin to decompose, and that’s the idea. The temperature inside the bales can reach 90 degrees F or higher.
Joel drives tall stakes into the ground at either end of the bales and attaches wires to them at different heights to cross over the length of the bales. The wires will support indeterminate tomatoes, cucumbers, beans and other tall crops. In early spring, he can also spread plastic film over the lowest wires and the sides of the bales to make a greenhouse tent to keep the warmth in and get a two to three week jump on spring, and perhaps get to plant second crops later in the season.
This month, Joel’s new book, Straw Bale Gardens: The Breakthrough Method for Growing Vegetables Anywhere, Earlier and with No Weeding on the topic will be published. Learn more about this innovative technique: strawbalegardens.com.