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173 of 174 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
The reviews here seem to be mostly "plan to, want to, expect to".

I'll make this short and sweet...I put in two bales this year as a trial and the results were not good...there were incredibly good!!!

I put in four tomatoes, three peppers, a zucchini, and a lemon cucumber on two bales, consciously trying to stress the concept to see what it would deliver.

I will never garden any other way! The plants all grew rapidly and have been exuberantly productive. In addition, for the first time in 25 years living in this location (San Francisco Peninsula), I have not had to fight the slugs and snails! One tried to climb the bale but gave up. What a relief to be freed of that struggle.

We're waiting for the huge crop of tomatoes to ripen while we harvest zucchini, cucumbers, and peppers.

I wholeheartedly recommend Mr. Karsten's book!
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77 of 77 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This book has revolutionized how I garden. I have a 40x14 foot greenhouse and extensive outdoor gardens. However, I live high in the Rocky Mountains and my soil is nothing more than crushed shale. It costs me an arm and a leg to haul in compost every year and since my property is all pasture I don't have the luxury of leaves for massive amounts of compost. I started using straw bales for part of my garden last summer and I was stunned. It was the best garden I've ever had here. And at the end of the season we moved the wet, partially composted bales to the flower gardens and let them compost over the winter. Because the inside of the bales is warm from all the compost I was able to start plants a full 30 days before the normal season, with the help of a frost blanket on cold nights. I've brought in all straw bales for this summer and have already planted my spring crop in the greenhouse. This summer I'm adding Azomite dust and fungus to the bales, along with red earth worms. I think I'll end up planting half of my gardens in straw bales each year. Then use the leftover, partially composted bales to enrich my poor soil so I'll be gardening half in amended soil and half in bales each year. It's less expensive than hauling in compost and MANY FEWER weeds!
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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on August 13, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
4 Months after getting the book I can say this method works great. We tried the straw bale and cannot belive the results so far in 2013.. we are in Minnesota and with tilled clay soil always had a uninspiring crop. A lot of fruit on the vine and hope they all ripen and taste great..TBD..The basel has the best we ever tatsed and so aromatic..Do recommend this process and are planning to expand for 2014
Oct 2 2013 UPDATE: This was the best veggie garden we have had. The only problem is that we had tried to many different plants in two straw bales.Crops that grew very tall ( Basel and tomatoes)overshadowed the smaller height plants like carrots and onions. We will extend the bales next year and have a section for smaller plants by themselves. Otherwise the plants liked the conditions. It is important to keep the watering up at ;east evry couple days.. For a first year experiment thumbs up..
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on July 22, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I bought this book after reading the NY Times article about the book and the concept of straw bale gardening. The author is a bit optimistic about the time it takes to condition the bales based on my experience after following his method to the T. Plan on four weeks. I think it's better to start early and give yourself a bit of leeway. I do live in the cool damp NW and that may have affected my results.

The book is worthwhile for great illustrations and the basics of straw bale gardening. Supplement the book by Googling "Straw Bale Gardening" and get some advice from others that have also been employing this technique for years.

One other note. I expected the bales to breakdown more than they did before planting. The best tool I found for planting is an old hatchet. I whack away where I want to plant things that come in pots to make the hole for planting.
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57 of 65 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2013
Format: Paperback
I will be the first to admit that I am a traditional gardener ... soil, raised beds etc. ... but now after reading Straw Bale gardens, I am excited to give this technique a try.

The book is educational from the intro where he gives a brief history of who he is and who inspired him, through the end. Not only will you learn the straw bale gardening method, but also a few other things along the way.

If you were considering jumping into straw bale gardening, then you NEED this book!
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50 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on July 21, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I was intrigued by this concept, and since I was moving my garden to a sunnier location, I gave it a try. I will enjoy a good harvest, but the whole process has been costly and labor intensive. Ten days conditioning the bales was a chore. Mine is not a grain producing region, so bales run $8-10 each. I don't ordinarily buy fertilizer of any kind, just use my own compost. But fertilizer is required for the bales. We have had a wet season, and my bales are starting to disintegrate in mid-July. When all is said and done, I will have a nice heap of compost in the location where I should have built new raised beds in the first place. Will do next season.
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34 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Cannot wait to try this, but the snow is still here. Good directions and pictures to follow. I am a visual person so this helps a lot. Layout of the garden samples are great, so I can decide what I want to plan for if spring ever comes.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Excellent book and excellent information. We told many people and started a straw bale garden frenzy in our family. My mother in laws garden turned out the best. She waters with lake water and her tomato plants are 5 feet tall with so many tomatoes that she will be canning for 2 months. This type of gardening works well for older people because they don't have to bend over so far and no weeding. That's the best part.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on March 23, 2013
Format: Paperback
This book is great for people like me who wants to start doing gardening without bending my back alot, doesn't have alot of land on my property and lives in PA where the weather is cold 7 months out of the year . The book gives a complete step by step directions on how to get you started on growing your straw bale garden. Straw bale gardening allows me to put a temporary garden to the side of my drive way.

The great thing about straw bale garden is that, it is very reasonable to get started. At my local nursery a bale of hay is for about $6.00 per bale . Which will only cost me $18.00 dollars to get started on my straw bale garden. I plan on purchasing 3 bale as soon as the weather breaks around 65-70 degrees because I want to plant cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, salad greens and cabbages.

Getting the straw bale ready for planting is very easy. All you do is condition the bale with a little bit of fertilizer and water, creating an instant compose pile. The crust of the bale decomposes slowly, but the inside decays faster which will become out potting mix. Then you stick a soaker hose on top , then plug what ever seedlings you are going to plant into a hole gouged out of straw.

I have bought cabbages, peppers, salad greens, cucumbers and tomatoes seeds to plant in my straw bale garden as soon as the weather breaks. I will be planting them in little containers until they becomes seedlings and then I will transfer them in my straw bale garden. I will be also making a cheap wire fence to keep critters out, once I transfer my seedlings into my straw bale garden. I'm happy I came across this book because I had never heard of a straw bale garden before. I will write an update once I planted my garden and my vegetables begins to grow. then. So far I love love this book and highly recommed this book for people who wants to learn about straw bale garden or people who wants to garden and doesn't have land to plant crops on.
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I read the whole book the day I received it! It has wonderful photos and illustrations. Good directions and suggestions. Very nicely done!
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