New Ideas in Straw Bale Gardening

I can’t think of a single gardener who wouldn’t want to plant a vegetable garden that could grow anywhere–without soil—and never needed weeding.

Straw Bale GardensWhen something sounds too good to be true, in most cases it means watch out for all the pitfalls. Gardeners are used to hearing claims for plants, products and tools that sound perfect, but end up being a big disappointment.

But Joel Karsten’s new book may be an exception. “Straw Bale Gardens” (Cool Springs Press, 2013) promises to be The breakthrough method for growing vegetables anywhere, earlier and with no weeding.

He practically guarantees gardeners can get big yields and grow 100 percent organic anywhere. As proof, he suggests planting in straw bales on balconies or driveways. No soil required.

“You plant your garden directly in bales of straw. Add some water, fertilizer and sunshine (not necessarily in that order) and your garden will explode with beautiful wholesome produce. No tilling, no cultivating, no weeding,” he writes in the Introduction.

New Line of Organics from Renee’s Garden

Renee’s Garden is introducing a new range of organic seed for the 2013 gardening season.

Renee’s Garden, a long-time supporter of the Safe Seed Pledge developed by the Council for Responsible Genetics, has gone a step farther.

This year Renee’s has added a complete range of USDA Certified Organic vegetable and herb seeds.

Some of new line include heirlooms like ‘Chioggia’ beets, ‘Royalty Purple Pod’ bush beans, ‘Jade Green’ container lettuce, ‘Marvel Stripe’ bicolor tomato and much more. The complete line is featured in the online catalog.

As with all of the vegetable, herb and flower seeds offered by Renee’s Garden, the organics were selected after testing them in her own trial gardens. Detailed instructions for planting and growing are included on every packet.

Years ago when I first heard about Renee’s Garden, I had an image of a gifted gardener named Renee starting a specialty seed business selling based on the plants grown in her own garden.

Special Gardening Event August 10

Please join us on Friday, August 10, at the Denver County Fair for an organic vegetable gardening event featuring Jane Shellenberger. Jane will present her program starting at 4:00 p.m. on the Farm and Garden Pavilion Stage and at 5:00 p.m. sign copies of her new book “Organic Gardener’s Companion: Growing Vegetables in the West” at the booth.

Jane is the publisher and editor of Colorado Gardener, a regional gardening magazine. Her book is an indispensable resource for anyone who wants to grow an organic vegetable garden in the West.

To get you in the mood for Jane’s presentation, here’s a glimpse into the pages of her book:

If you’ve tried to grow an organic vegetable garden in our region of the country, you know that gardening is difficult here. Lean soils, little precipitation, low humidity, harsh winds, and inopportune freezing weather make vegetable gardening an extreme undertaking.

Organic Gardening Book Giveaway

Celebrate Earth Day 2012 by entering to win Jane Shellenberger’s new book, Organic Gardener’s Companion: Growing Vegetables in the West.

If you grow a vegetable garden in the West, you need this book! It’s a complete guide to growing an organic garden in the Rocky Mountain West.

Jane is the publisher and editor of Colorado Gardener, a regional gardening magazine that just celebrated its 15th anniversary. As a long-time organic gardener, she shares her gardening experience in this beautiful new book (Fulcrum Publishing, $24.95).

This hands-on resource is sure to help you grow a successful organic vegetable garden.

To win a copy of Organic Gardener’s Companion, just post the top reason you need this book by Friday, April 20 at 5:00 p.m. Mountain time. One name will be selected at random from all comments.

Win a Copy of The Heirloom Life Gardener

I couldn’t put down my copy of The Heirloom Life Gardener, the fascinating story of how Jere Gettle started the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company. You can win a copy of the book that boldly states, “Anyone can start a garden.”

To enter the book giveaway, post a comment here on what gardening means to you before Friday, January 13, at 5:00 p.m. Mountain time. The winner will be selected at random from all comments and notified January 16. This giveaway is open to gardeners in the U.S. and Canada.

The new book called The Heirloom Life Gardener is all about gardening with heirloom vegetables. But there’s much more to it than that. I think this book is also a love story.

Jere Gettle started working in his family’s garden when he was only 3 years old and almost immediately he knew he wanted to become a seedsman one day. He started Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company in 1998 in the bedroom of his family’s home when he was only 17. That first seed catalog has grown to one that includes 1400 varieties from 70 different countries.

Complete Guide to Composting Book Review

Why buy bags of compost to help your gardening efforts when you can turn ordinary kitchen and yard waste into black gold?

I had the chance to talk with Chris McLaughlin for an article on compost tea I wrote for The Denver Post earlier this season.

Something Chris said during the interview stuck with me and I think about it every time I step into the garden:

“Compost is at the very heart of organic gardening. It’s literally the heartbeat.”

Taking kitchen and garden waste, watching it decompose and then returning it to the earth is a powerful gardening concept.

Compost is the answer to most gardening questions because it can be used to loosen clay soil or to add water-holding ability to sandy soil. Compost boosts soil fertility because it brings in the microorganisms that support all forms of plant and animal life, Chris said.

Organic Gardening with Manure Tea

Today’s Workshop Wednesday is for gardeners who want to make the switch from liquid  synthetic chemical fertilizers to nature’s best all-natural soil conditioner.

If my early-season planting experiment is a success, I’ll owe it all to Authentic Haven Brand manure tea.

I planted two tomatoes, a ‘Roma’ and an ‘Early Girl’ on April 4, watered them in with manure tea and placed Wall of Water plant protectors around them. They survived several spring snowstorms, freezing overnight temperatures, severe wind gusts and a sudden 90-degree day.

Last week I finally removed the plastic protectors, staked them and gave them both another manure tea party. They look extremely healthy and, if the weather cooperates, I hope the ‘Early Girl’ will live up to her name.

I thought I’d use today’s Workshop Wednesday post as a “How To” for using manure tea in the garden. I’ve written about Authentic Haven Brand premium soil conditioners before and I’m proud to have this product as an advertiser on my site.

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