Book Review – Straw Bale Gardens Complete by Joel Karsten
Published by Cool Springs Press
This is Joel’s second book on Straw Bale Gardening; it’s an updated version of his 2013 edition containing additional information for potential straw bale gardeners. Straw Bale Gardening (SBG) is a revolutionary gardening method which Joel has enthusiastically perfected and trialled over the last 15 years; his passion for the subject, as well as the many benefits of gardening using this technique are truly inspiring and exciting to read. Joel promises that straw bale gardeners will not need to weed their straw bale gardens – this in itself will be quite an incentive for many gardeners to give this method a try! Other benefits of SBG include greater harvests, extending the growing season, saving money; it’s an easier non-dig technique for gardeners to try.
I love making gardening accessible to everyone and this is certainly true of SBG, the bales create immediate raised beds that can be easily set out to suit the gardener, allowing room for those gardening in wheelchairs, with the height of the bales making gardening easier for disabled or elderly gardeners. As SBG usually use fresh bales each year, it’s easy to change the design of your bales every year if you wish, to allow for a new design or to adapt it to fit in with your needs.
The SBG technique is especially useful to gardeners who have large areas of hard standing or concrete in their gardens, as the straw bales can be brought in, placed on top of the hard standing and a garden can be created with very little time and effort. It’s also beneficial to gardeners with poor soil as the straw bales provide a greatly improved growing medium without the expense or effort of improving the soil.
Straw Bale Gardens Complete is a comprehensive book, which details everything you need to know about how to create, maintain and design your own SBG. Every aspect of the method is covered – from sourcing the bales, how to set them up in your SBG, conditioning the bales, and even making your own bales if you can’t find a straw bale source locally! The book covers every aspect of SBG in great detail, giving clear instructions on planting, outlining which plants will thrive using the SBG technique, and which crops aren’t as well suited to SBG. There are plans and designs for SBG as well as photographs of successful SBG and the odd thank-you note from a gardener whose life has been changed since taking up straw bale gardening. This book gives potential straw bale gardeners all the information and guidance they need to create a successful SBG, whatever their circumstances.
Joel’s passion and enthusiasm for Straw Bale Gardening is evident throughout the book, you can’t help but feel inspired to find a local farmer, order some straw bales, and give it a try! The only aspect of straw bale gardening that has put me off in the past is the idea of having untidy straw bales and bits of straw blowing around making everywhere look tatty. Whilst straw bales may look rather romantic in a beautiful painting of the fields and countryside, I felt they wouldn’t look so attractive in my garden or at my allotment. Still Joel has inspired me, SBG sounds fun and I am interested and excited to give it a go!
A shortened version of this review was published in the May 2015 edition of VantagePoint Magazine.
To order Straw Bale Gardens Complete at the discounted price of £12.99 including p&p* (RRP: £15.99), telephone 01903 828503 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and quote the offer code APG294. *UK ONLY – Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.
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