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Nice reading, but too much trouble, expense (each season!) and (I THINK) book forgot to mention setting up the plastic BEFORE it rains (?) Even so, I think it's just too much trouble for a large garden.
Get a rototiller and fertilize as mentioned in book. That stuff really took down the bales in record time!!:)
Square Foot Gardening is a much better, long term solution to crappy soil.
If you are a chemical gardener this will be a great book. If you are interested in detailed straw bale gardening using an organic, or vegan approach - this book will not serve your purpose. In truth, there is little information out there concerning the latter approaches.
It is a well done book for what it purports - and there are many many pictures.
Joel, like many chemical gardeners and organic gardeners alike misunderstands that the use of blood meal, bone meal or fish products is the way to healthy, nutritious food. Do you really want animal blood and bone products from diseased and ill animals in your food?
He advocates the use of white vinegar - white vinegar is often made from petroleum distillates - and the ethyl alcohol also used to make it is usually from GMO sources. Apple Cider Vinegar is a better choice. If you do use white vinegar make sure that is not made from glacial acetic acid.
He never mentions that he has taken BRIX readings of his produce - the use of chemical fertilizers will result in low BRIX readings.
For those that are really wanting to try a new method of gardening such as strawbale gardening - just use compost (preferably not manure based), earthworm castings, with additions of BRIX minerals, especially beneficials. Keep the bale warm and wet - and you will be rewarded. Foliar fertilizing is a fantastic method for SB gardening. You may also use a product called "Native Nitrogen" that is available from kelp4less on the net.
Update: I received an email from Joel in which he says this review was hurtful to him. It is not my intention to rain on his parade. I am instead, hoping to point out areas which may be expanded upon for those who do not use chemical fertilizers. This is a book, that if you are new to strawbale gardening can be most helpful in connecting the dots. However, conditioning a bale is the whole key to this type of gardening - so if you were not intending to use chemical means for conditioning; and you never really thought of the fact that using parts of animals to fertilize is diametrically opposed to why most should people want to garden, (i.e, improving the nutrition of what you eat which will improve your health) - then my review will be valuable to you. In fact, most people haven't really thought through what organic gardening "should be"; how we can be more kind to our precious earth. Or know that there are alternatives. I am in fact, a veganic gardener. It is also called Stock-Free gardening. We do not use any parts of animals, poultry or fish in anything we use to grow produce. So to Joe, I apologize if I unintentionally bruised his feelings and hope that this explanation will prove fruitful.