Ulrike Dieterle

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I came to straw bale gardening after hearing Joel Karsten speak at our Wisconsin Garden Expo. After purchasing his first book followed by my first year of experience, I became a straw-bale advocate. While I have gardened most of my life, straw bales provided a way to expand gardening space in my shady backyard. Most of my gardening is done in a community garden were I grow flowers and veggies the old-fashioned way. Comparing the two methods is always interesting and, although now in my fourth year of straw bale gardening, I am still learning and trying out new approaches. I have had wonderful success using straw bales for cucumbers, squash, cherry tomatoes, eggplant, beans, peas, lettuce and herbs. Each year, I try something new. I love popping out the back door to grab a handful of cherry tomatoes to finish a salad or get a handful of basil to finish off a pasta dish. No bending down or dirty hands!

Retirement has afforded me the time to pursue expanded garden interests, not the least of which is becoming a Master Gardener through a program offered by the Dane County UW-Extension office here in Madison. In order to maintain certification, I continue to volunteer in various garden environments including school, community and non-profits.

Before retirement, I worked as Senior Academic Librarian for Outreach and Distance Learning at the Ebling Health Sciences Library, UW-Madison. I also worked in other library environments, including law, general academic and business. Before life as a librarian, I was a high school German teacher in Cincinnati. I find my two careers very compatible and complimentary to gardening which takes patience, dedication, a curious mind and a sense of adventure to embrace every challenge.

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