Learn About Straw Bale Gardening Saturday

Straw bales ready to be planted.

Straw bales ready to be planted.

Joel Karsten has been teaching about the benefits of straw bale gardening for several years now,l starting with the publication of his first book on the topic. His revised, updated book, Straw Bale Gardens Complete, just came out in February and ranks No. 3 in vegetable garden books on Amazon.

Joel, who is also a native Minnesotan and a member of the MSHS Board of Directors, is conducting a full day of straw bale education at the north parking lot of the Minnesota State Fairgrounds this Saturday, April 25. The event is co-sponsored by Otten Bros. and MSHS will be there with a membership and information table. The event starts at 9 a.m. with presentations each hour to teach people the basics of straw bale gardening. In addition, there will be supplies, including straw bales; vendors and a straw bale demonstration garden so you can see the process in action. The event goes until 3 p.m. It is free.

If you have not heard of it, straw bale gardening involves using straw bales to grow vegetables and flowers. The bales are “conditioned” with water and fertilizer early in the season to begin the process of decomposition inside the bale. As the interior of the bale quickly turns to compost, gardeners can plant vegetables or flowers in the bale. The bales work because the warm compost nourishes the plants and the bales keep plants off the ground, away from many soil-borne diseases and insect pests.

If you are interested in trying straw bale gardening, this is a great opportunity. Look for the MSHS table when you are there!



  1. Karen on April 21, 2015 at 10:24 am

    Hello, I tried straw bale gardening with potatoes one year… I ended up with mice nesting in the bales, and even having babies in the bale, which then chewed into my potatoes, my beets, my carrots, etc!! SO I considered it a fail since I ended up with a rodent problem. Any way to prevent this?? Thanks.

    • Mary Lahr Schier on April 21, 2015 at 3:12 pm

      Mice can be a problem if the bales get dried out and it seems too comfy to the mice. Keep the bales pretty saturated, especially in the beginning. Mice won’t want to live in a place with a leaky roof. When you have finished the growing season, disassemble the bale and spread the straw around to prevent overwintering.

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