Straw Bale Gardening is simply a different type of container gardening. The main difference is that the container is the straw bale itself and is held together with two or three strings. Once the straw inside the bale begins to decay the straw becomes "conditioned" compost that creates an extroardinary plant rooting environment. Getting the straw bales conditioned is an essential part of the process, and should be started by the first week in May for MN and WI gardeners.
Who created this website? Joel Karsten is a certified Nursery and Landscape Professional through the Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association. He also holds a BS from the University of Minnesota in Horticulture Science; however, his real gardening knowledge has come from 35 years of being in the garden. He started pulling weeds at four years old in the garden with his Grandma Josephine, who taught him everything a good vegetable gardener needs to know in order to grow an extraordinary garden every year. Joel's father, Glen Karsten, owner of Karsten's Nursery, has been growing and selling trees and shrubs for many years at his tree farm near Worthington MN. Joel spent many hours working in the nursery fields, planting and harvesting, until he made his escape to the University of Minnesota, for a four year "vacation" from the farm.
Why Straw Bale Gardening? Now living in Roseville, Minnesota, Joel spends much of his time tending his half acre residential lot, and growing mostly annuals, perennials, and ornamental grasses. Growing a vegetable garden at "the farm" (3.5 hours away) seemed an impossibility because of the distance and obvious lack of attention that could be given to a garden with only a weekend now and then to do the work involved. That impossiblity became a reality when Joel discovered Straw Bale Gardening. Minimal maintenance that results in maximum production was a concept that seemed like a perfect gardening solution.
Who should plant a Straw Bale Garden?
- Can't do heavy lifting? If you are less capable or less interested in doing the heavy work of traditional gardening, such as tilling the soil, constant weeding, unending insect battles and persistent disease spraying, Straw Bale Gardening virtually eliminates these challenges.
- Can't bend over? If you have a physical limitation or handicap that restricts you from getting down on the ground, you will appreciate the easier access to the higher surface of a straw bale, which eliminates the bending to plant and harvest.
- Poor soil or limited space? If your have a low soil quality, or if you have limited space that you can devote to a garden, you will love Straw Bale Gardening with its low cost, flexibility in garden placement, and great performance of the straw once it's properly conditioned.
- Interested in broadening your gardening horizons? If you are a seasoned gardener looking for a fun new method, you will be amazed at the results!
Using many of the tips and tricks Joel offers in his classes and the written material he offers as a guide to new straw bale gardeners, you are guaranteed to be successful with your first straw bale garden experience.
How can I learn more? Joel started teaching "Straw Bale Gardening" as a community education class in the spring of 2008, and has become a popular instructor for many School Districts around Minnesota and Wisconsin, teaching this new style of gardening in a classroom setting.
St. Michael/Albertville MN – Monday, March 22, 6:30-9:30pm, Community Education Center
St. Louis Park MN – Monday, March 29, 6:30-9:30pm, Lenox Community Center
Cannon Falls MN – Tuesday, March 30, 6:3-9:30pm, Cannon Falls High School
Roseville MN – Thursday, April 1, 6:30-9:30pm, Roseville Fairview Community Center
Northern Dakota TriDistrict – Monday, April 5, 6:30-9:30pm, Mendota Elementary
Mound/Westonka MN – Tuesday, April 6, 6:30-9:30pm, Mound/Westonka High School
Forest Lake MN – Wednesday, April 7, 6:30-9:30pm, Forest Lake Century Junior High School
Waconia MN – Thursday, April 8, 6:30-9:30pm, Clearwater Media Center
North Branch MN – Saturday, April 10, 9-11:30am, Peterson’s Country Mill Farm Store
Baldwin WI - Monday, April 12, 6:30-9:30pm, Baldwin High School
Duluth/Cloquet MN – Tuesday, April 13, 6:30-9:30pm, Cloquet Middle School
North Saint Paul MN - Wednesday, April 14, 6:30-9:30pm, Skyview Middle School
New Prague MN – Thursday, April 15, 6:30-9:30pm, Com Ed Center
Chetek WI – Saturday, April 17, 6:30-9:30pm, Chetek High School
Austin MN – Saturday, April 24, 6:30-9:30pm, Austin High School
Apple Valley/Eagan/Rosemont – Monday, April 26, 6:30-9:30pm, Ap Val Scott Highlands Elementary
Dassel/Cokato MN – Tuesday, April 27, 6:30-9:30pm, Cokato High School Art Room
Big Lake MN – Thursday, April 29, 6:30-9:30, Big Lake Independence Elementary Community Rm
Anoka/Hennepin MN – Monday, May 3, 6:30-9:30pm, Staff Development Center Anoka
Fridley MN – Tuesday, May 4, 6:30-9:30pm, Fridley Community Center
Norwood Young America – Wednesday, May 5, 6:30-9:30pm, Norwood YAM High School
Amery WI – Thursday, May 6, 6:30-9:30pm, Amery Intermediate School Board Room
New Richmond WI - Monday, May 10, 6:30-9:30pm, New Richmond High School
Circle Pines MN - Wednesday, May 12, 6:30-9:30pm, High School / Red Building
IFYOU CANNOT MAKE IT TO ONE OF THE ABOVE SCHEDULED STRAW BALE GARDENING CLASSES - Then Order the "Guide To Straw Bale Gardening" authored by Joel Karsten for $15, which includes the mailing cost and sales tax. Simply click BUY NOW below to purchase a copy. They are usually mailed the same day payment is received.