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Legacy Fund speaker wrote the book on Straw Bale Gardens

Author Joel Karstens gave a presentation on his popular straw bale gardening method to a packed room at the Pine River Public Library. Karstens wrote the book, literally, on Straw Bale Gardens. As a matter of fact, that's the title of his book! L...

Though the subject was new to many in the crowd at author Joel Karsten's Pine River Community Library presentation on straw bale gardens, 13-year-old Trevor Birr of Pine River is no stranger to the growing method, which he used as a very successful 4-H project during the 2014 summer.Photo by Travis Grimler
Though the subject was new to many in the crowd at author Joel Karsten's Pine River Community Library presentation on straw bale gardens, 13-year-old Trevor Birr of Pine River is no stranger to the growing method, which he used as a very successful 4-H project during the 2014 summer.Photo by Travis Grimler

Author Joel Karstens gave a presentation on his popular straw bale gardening method to a packed room at the Pine River Public Library.

Karstens wrote the book, literally, on Straw Bale Gardens. As a matter of fact, that's the title of his book! Locals at the March 4 event in Pine River packed a small room in the back of the library so full that there were visitors standing in the room's doorway.

Karstens' presentation included detailed instructions on preparing a straw bale for gardening. The prep work involves 12 days of infusing the straw bale with nitrogen and watering it to feed the already present bacteria there. Without this step, Karstens said the bacterial will absorb the nitrogen from the plants you try to cultivate. Afterwards, however, the straw bale becomes a fertile plant "pot" for growing anything from tomatoes and peppers to cabbage and strawberries.

Karstens' method even includes a trellis and plastic row covers for early planting, and vine control. He says the benefits of this method include:

• no shovelling

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• less weeding

• better pest and disease control

• earlier planting

• moisture control

At the event were many people just learning about straw bale gardening, but among the crowd was also Pine River 13-year-old Trevor Birr who grew a very successful straw bale garden for 4-H in 2014.

This free presentation was a part of the Legacy Fund Program. Karstens also spoke March 2 at the Pequot Lakes Library and March 5 at the Crosslake Library through the Legacy Fund.

In addition to presenting his popular straw bale gardening method to a full room at the Pine River Community Library, Author Joel Karsten also introduced his audience to a new trick for compressing used straw bales into new, even better nutrient rich bales. Photo by Travis Grimler
In addition to presenting his popular straw bale gardening method to a full room at the Pine River Community Library, Author Joel Karsten also introduced his audience to a new trick for compressing used straw bales into new, even better nutrient rich bales. Photo by Travis Grimler

Related Topics: GARDENING
Travis Grimler began work at the Echo Journal Jan. 2 of 2013 while the publication was still split in two as the Pine River Journal and Lake Country Echo. He is a full time reporter/photographer/videographer for the paper and operates primarily out of the northern stretch of the coverage area (Hackensack to Jenkins).
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