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Posts tagged “Joel Karsten

How will you grow your garden this year?


If I ever dreamed of any aspect of gardening, I’d dream up an outdoor greenhouse. That yen for a plant house undoubtedly dates back to the time we looked at buying an old house that came with its own brick greenhouse: slanted windows extending from ground to rooftop and facing east. Ah, filling that roomy space with wooden tables covered with little seed pots holding herbs, veggies, and flowers ready for the spring planting is a dream, and, yep, the dream lives on.

A writer friend has a greenhouse. He told me that pouring over seed catalogs every mid-winter helped him wile away the harsh Minnesota winter days and  to Think Spring. He was ready to head out to his garden space the moment immediately following the last frost.

While we wait for that outdoor greenhouse, daughter Heather and I bought a micro one. It’s self-watering, has 72 “cells” to start seeds. The self-watering aspect is perfect for delivering a continuous supply of water. At least, I credit it with the great response we’ve gotten. In just 10 days, the daikon (first to sprout), tomatoes, red onion, lettuce, cukes, zukes, basil, and calendula are comin’ on! Heather and I have to admit to a mid-sized thrill racing through us as we watch all those little guys peak through the natural coconut fiber pellets that hold the seeds.

Home gardening—I like the phrase  “urban farming”—is big. Folks wanting to take control of supplying at least some of their own food are finding creative ways to get there. Not everyone’s lifestyle accommodates the traditional backyard garden. So what’s a guy or gal to do? If you’re a true urban farmer, you’ll find a way to make your garden happen. You may have already picked out what works best in your life, but, if you’re open to a couple other suggestions…

  • Earth Box™ — sounds inviting, don’t you think so, too? All it means is that the patented boxes are self-watering, self-fertilizing containers. Loyal users buy several to many. Maybe you’d rather buy ordinary round, square ones, or  rectangular pots. Whatever your choice, keep  them on your deck, porch, patio. They all use soil. By the way, if you live in an apartment, you might look into rooftop gardening. Just be sure you ask the super or landlord if the roof can hold heavy pots. Did you know that soil can weigh up to 100 lbs. per sq. ft.?
  • Straw bales — like container gardening, but not. Before you discount this option for your outdoor space, consider its benefits: “Less bending, less weeding, no tilling, less watering, less disease, fewer insects, greater results!” says Joel Karsten, who’s pretty much the expert on straw bale gardening. He knows his stuff, and you can pick his brain at seminars he gives around the Twin Cities, or buy his book for the perfect reference.
  • The Windowfarmproject is sorta new, but 30,000 peeps, worldwide, find it’s the way to grow food indoors, placing seeds into plastic bottles they hang near windows. This is a hydroponics system only, no soil.

Or maybe you’d rather garden in a community of other sons and daughters of the soil. If that’s your preference, hunt for a community garden near where you live. A “community garden” may be as near as a neighbor who has too much garden for him or her. Join forces! Work together, share the bounty.


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