Grow Fresh Produce in a Parking Lot!

September 22, 2016

I don't weed my garden. I water it infrequently. I don't have root-eating pests. I rarely fertilize. I have more fresh beautiful produce than I know what  do with!


Two years ago I heard a Joel Karsten speak on the radio about how he grows so much fresh produce and doesn't have to weed his garden.  This of course piqued my interest as weeding to me  is like living in pergatory- never ending!  



Joel set up his successful container garden solely using straw bales and 2 or 3 pieces of string.  No rototilling. No prepping the soil. Nothing. Zip. Nada. Zilch. Now this is the type of gardening I could do.


What Joel has perfected is called Straw Bale Gardening.  It's a different type of container gardening where the straw bale becomes the container filled with enriched perfect soil. 


What is so wonderful about this type of gardening is that you can do it ANYWHERE! Yes. I said and anywhere! Pick a place. Parking lot: Yes. Balcony: Yes. Sand: Yes. Gravel: YES! Even places where the sun doesn't shine for long periods of time- YES!  If you can find straw bales, or similar type of organic material, you can garden.


With a little help from Nitrogen, the straw in the inside begins to decompose and becomes a nutrient rich, warm, moist environment for plants to thrive! And because of the structural make up of the straw, more water can be sucked up and held for when the plant need it-making watering sessions less frequent.



The process begins about 2 weeks prior to planting where a high nitrogen fertilizer and water are spread over the bales and work together to make compost. Once the inside of the bales become a warm black organic material- you can plant! 



Now there is no more excuse that fresh produce isn't available. A VERY economical way to get fresh vegetables onto your plates.  I have seen straw bales run anywhere from $7 to $9 per bale and high nitrogen fertilizer (I used pellets from Espoma Garden Food 10-10-10) about $12, which may be enough to last you 2 years-depending on how many bales you prep.


I also invested in a 25-foot soaker hose ($19.99 at Home Depot) and a water timer ($35) so I could guarantee that my garden was properly watered every other day. These items are not necessary, but do make it a lot easier for those (like me) who don't have all the time in the world to spend out with Mother Nature.


In the past, I have had quite a long growing season and have been very successful growing tomatoes, green peppers, cabbage, lettuce, marigolds, and even strawberries and herbs out the sides of the bales! I believe the length of the growing season was due to the warmth the decomposing bales provided- staving off Jack Frost.


And to add even more value to this type of gardening, last year's bales have

 become this year's compost!


Straw (not hay) bale gardening is an easy, convenient and economical way ensure you and your family have healthy fresh vegetables in your diets.  If you would like more information about Straw Bale Gardening, I highly encourage you to check out Joel Karsten's book, Straw Bale Gardens: A breakthrough method of growing vegetables anywhere, earlier and with no weeding! It can be purchased at Barnes and Noble for about $17 or check out his web site at: where you can learn more about the process. Here's a brief overview from Joel that I found on YouTube.





From One Thrilled Gardener-




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Peter Sacchetti, MD

1 Brickyard Lane

Suite D

York, Maine  03909

Southern Maine, Southern New Hampshire, Portsmouth, Kittery, Kennebunk

Practice Tel: 207-703-5365

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