VOA Special English
Straw Bale Gardening


    From VOA Learning English, this is the Agriculture Report.

    Straw bale gardening is a way to grow food above the ground. Straw is what remains of the plants stems after grain harvests, the long dry tubes are gathered into bales. Bales are often about a meter long and half a meter high and wide. Straw is different from hay. Hay is made from whole plants and used for animal feed, straw is used mostly for animal bedding.

    Joel Karsten wrote a book called "Straw Bale Gardens". He explains that this ancient and now increasingly popular idea is a form of container gardening.

    "Container gardening makes life easier, these is no weeding, less issues with drying out. We don’t have insect problem, we don’t have disease problems that linger in soil from one year to the next."

    Straw bale gardening

    He says straw bales can require less water, and prevent plant diseases caused by too much water in soil.

    "It is really impossible to overwater a bale of straw, because there is too much water in it, the excess water just runs out the bottom."

    In areas with polluted soil, growing food in straw bales is easier than building above-ground containers for dirt.

    Joel Karsten says his Facebook page has received a lot of comments, "Too moreover, the planted, it is kind of interesting, be heard their feedback from the Antarctic Circle, and New Zealand, and ones in the ? and ones in the desert, like Dubai, and Saudi Arabia."

    Oats and wheat are the most common leading baled grains in the United States. Rice straw is also good for baling and gardening.

    "We also have some people in different part of the world that use just baled up of grasses. Any type of organic material that you can bale up, very tightly into a bale form, will work for the massive of gardening."

    The straw bales becomes both the  container and the growing material. Preparing the bales takes about two weeks. The first step is to add water and fertilizer to the center of the bale everyday for three days, this begins the process of bacteria -- breaking down the straw into a growing medium. Once this happens, the bales are ready for seeds or young plants.

    Some experts say planting seedling is better than growing from seeds. As the fertilizer and water break down the straw, the straw produces heat. This heat creates an environment that lets straw bale gardeners plant and harvest earlier in the growing season.

    Joel Karsten tells the story of a women in the American South, Luna Dargosin of Tennessee used to grow food in the ground. Now she grows it in 2,000 straw bales.

     "She used to spend 75 percentage of her time growing the crops, and 25 percentage of her time marketing and selling the crops. But now, she spends 25 percentage of her time growing the crops, and 75 percentage marketing and selling."

    You can find plenty of advice about straw bale gardening on the Internet.

    And that’s the Agriculture Report from VOA Learning English. written by Anker Decker, I am Steve Ember.