Chrissie McNeil

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Hi there! I live in beautiful Virginia. For years I have had a black thumb…until I stumbled upon Straw Bale Gardening! Thank goodness for Facebook which is where a link popped up one day about Mr. Karsten’s book. I had tried year after year to have a garden and it always failed. After finding this and reading peoples comments online…I HAD to try it!. Last year we started with 8 bales. This was perfect for me…the ONLY things my husband had to do was pick up the bales and drive in my “T” posts! The rest was up to me 🙂 See…he works about 50-60 hours a week so this was great to not really need him to do much! Plus we have 3 kids and we homeschool and my time is a bit limited. This was perfect! I conditioned, planted, and just sat back and waited for the fruits of my labor! Everyone was astonished that my glorious garden…started with straw bales! As you can see from the pictures I loaded them up!

Here is an exert from The Roanoke Times on my garden last year:

“Chrissie McNeil of Rocky Mount found another path to alternative gardening. After tilling her rocky, very compact clay soil and experiencing poor results, she looked to other methods. One day, she saw a Facebook post about straw bale gardening, which led her to her local library in search of the book, Straw Bale Gardens by Joel Karsten. (see infobox).
“I had to wait three weeks for someone to return the book,” she said. “Once I got it, I read it in two days and immediately bought the revised edition for myself.”
Straw bale gardening calls for planting in a sterile bale of straw. The concept is that if the bale is conditioned properly to start the decomposition process, the bale will begin to compost from the inside out, making nutrients right before your eyes. As the bale breaks down, heat is generated inside, making early planting more of a success. McNeil also likes that the bales can be placed in the most convenient places for the crop she is growing. She has her lettuce in part shade and her tomatoes in full sun, something she couldn’t have done with a conventional in-ground garden.
McNeil said she was sold on the method when she realized that even with four kids and a husband who works a lot, she could still do it on her own with very little cost or effort. She has her first straw bale garden coming up this year, and the results are impressive. The benefits include virtually zero weeds, a garden that is elevated to the point where she doesn’t hurt her back tending to it, and very large plants putting out high yields. No wonder she is happy with her first attempt.”

With my garden doing SOOO well last year I decided to do 20 bales this year! I also have a large group of friends who will be joining me on this straw bale journey! I can’t wait to see the results of everyone’s garden. Food is medicine and what better way to put that medicine on peoples tables than with a fool proof way to garden 🙂

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