Local News

Swap soil for straw to grow a garden

Posted May 17, 2009 10:22 p.m. EDT
Updated May 18, 2009 6:55 a.m. EDT

— Worries about the down economy and food safety are fueling a boom in home gardens. However, many people don't want to toil in the garden, or they don't have enough yard space. A Wake Forest man says he has the answer: straw bales.

"Anything you grow in a traditional garden, just about anything, will grow in straw-bale garden,” Kent Rogers said.

Rogers lives near Wake Forest, where the rocky ground makes it tough to garden. Five years ago, he read about a straw-bale garden and gave it a try.

"Those vegetables just jumped out of those bales. I really was shocked,” Rogers said.

Rogers said the process is simple; just soak the straw bales for a couple of weeks, then plant.

"Take your plants and just kind of drop it down to the first leaf and just close your bale back up. It's that simple,” he said.

Straw bales are a great option for gardeners who don't have a lot of room, and you don't need soil either, Rogers said. He knows a man in Washington, D.C., who uses straw bales to garden on top of his townhouse.

Rogers said it is also a good method for people who aren't able, or don't want, to do tedious maintenance. You don't have to till, hoe or weed a straw-bale garden, he said.

"It's pretty easy to do,” said Gerald Adams, North Carolina Executive Mansion groundskeeper.

Adams grows tomatoes and peppers in straw bales at the Executive Mansion. He said he is impressed by the method.

"If we have good luck with that this year, we will have more straw bales next year. That's for sure,” Adams said.

Rogers said straw bale gardening could also be the easiest way to grow your own food.

"I know it sounds too good to be true, but if there's a downside, I haven't found it yet,” he said.

Straw bales don't pose a fire danger as long as you keep them properly watered. You can buy wheat straw bales from farmers or garden suppliers for a few dollars a bale, Rogers said.