Deals Episodes

Save Money with Straw Bale Gardening

Tags: Gardening, Deals

If you'd like to try gardening this year, consider this technique: gardening in a straw bale! It's inexpensive, easy and requires less time and maintenance - perfect for beginning or experienced gardeners.

If you're new to gardening or think you have a black thumb, Joel Karsten, author of Straw Bale Gardens, says this technique is for you.

"Literally, if they follow the step by step process that we lay out for them, it's impossible to fail as a gardener using this method," he says.

You start with a bale of straw and add a source of nitrogen.

"If you're an organic gardener, you're gonna add a source of nitrogen that's usually protein based so like blood meal works very well," he says.

Sprinkle it on the top of the bale and you water it for two weeks. The inside will start to decompose, and the heating process sterilizes all the viable seeds inside the bale so you don't have any weeding.

Plant early season and late season together so by the time you harvest your early season, your late season crop is starting to grow. He says you can actually use the same bale for two seasons.

"The first season we're gonna plant things that we can harvest from outside the bale, like tomatoes and peppers, and the second year we're gonna plant things that are root crops, like beets and carrots and potatoes, turnips, things that come from the inside of the bale. Because once you pull those out, the bale actually collapses on itself and it's gone," he says.

Straw bales hold moisture really well, he said, so it tends to not need as much water as a normal garden needs. It's also raised off the ground so there's not as much bending required.

"Now there's no excuse. If you have a bale of straw and sunlight and water, you can have a beautiful garden. You don't need soil, you can do this in a parking lot. You can do this on the roof of a building, on the patio in your backyard," Joel said.

A bale of straw costs about $5, and if you use it for two seasons that's $2.50!

Joel has step by step instructions in his book, Straw Bale Gardens, which costs about $12.

For more from Joel, visit StrawBaleGardens.com.
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