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What is straw bale gardening? A practical guide |

What is straw bale gardening? A practical guide |


When thinking about growing crops and flowers at home, planting into bales of decomposing straw probably isn’t the first approach that springs to mind. But, the concept offers a huge amount of benefits – and has gained popularity across multiple countries as a result.

It may seem like a novel way of starting a vegetable garden. And Joel Karsten, the pioneer of the Straw Bale Gardens® method, says that, 32 years ago, nobody had ever heard of such a thing. 

But now, five books and nearly 3,000 live presentations later – and with the help of social media – more than a million people have adopted the method.

tomatoes growing in straw bale

Many plants can be grown using this technique, including tomatoes

(Image credit: Joel Karsten)

Joel Karsten
Joel Karsten

Thirty years ago, Joel Karsten, a horticulturist from the University of MN, pioneered a unique method for growing vegetables in bales of straw. Joel has written five best-selling books on the subject, now translated into many languages. He has traveled extensively to spread his method worldwide, including a presentation to the United Nations and a popular TED talk. Straw bale gardening offers tangible hope for people in some of the poorest places on earth to grow their own food successfully.

A simple guide to straw bale gardening

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