Crystal Rogers

Added by Cris Rogers

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I had always wanted to learn how to grow a vegetable garden, but it did not seem doable where I live. I rent a small apartment and I had only ever dabbled with growing a few tomatoes and peppers in containers. Several years ago I saw an article (complete with pictures) in our local West KY newspaper about a man who grew vegetables in bales of straw. The huge, beautiful tomatoes and cabbages amazed me! I was intrigued, but did not look into the method at the time. Then in 2015 I ran across Joel Karsten’s webinars on straw bale gardens. After attending a webinar, I ordered the book and, with my landlord’s permission, I started my first real vegetable garden with 8 bales of straw. I followed the instructions in Joel’s book and also found a wonderful group on Facebook that is dedicated to straw bale (miracle) gardens. With my new found knowledge and some trial and error, my very first vegetable garden was a huge success. I grew two types of tomatoes, bell peppers, green beans, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, onions, watermelon, and cantaloupe, as well as flowers. When I tasted my first-ever, homegrown cantaloupe, I was as excited as a kid on Christmas day! The fun grew as friends, family, and neighbors would stop by and stare in disbelief at my beautiful plants “growing in straw?!?!?”. Total strangers stopped by to see what I was doing, one lady explaining that her curiosity had finally gotten the best of her!

In 2016, I expanded my garden to 21 bales and had another great garden. Not only is this method much easier than I’ve heard traditional gardening is (no weeding, no tilling, etc.), it is also infectious. I have shared this gardening method with a lot of folks and several have gone on to grow their own straw bale gardens!

The learning curve I experienced was not only for growing food in a straw bale, but growing vegetables in general. Joel’s book, Straw Bale Gardens Complete, is a great source of information for both and our Facebook group is filled with terrific folks of all experience levels who are willing to answer gardening questions. I enjoy growing my own vegetables and have even learned to do a little canning. These are things that I hope to pass along to my daughter and granddaughters – and for me, it would not be possible without the straw bale gardening method.

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