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I am growing veg for the first time. I saw a YouTube video and ordered the book, it does not disappoint. It is very clearly written though USA based, but I think I will see how UK weather offers strawbale produce.
Really my own fault, I should have checked the number of pages etc. This book is tiny, thin, no photographs and printed on very poor quality paper. I wont be buying this gentlemans books again. Fortunately found a fabulous book which I can see being my straw bale bible.
Great little book . All the information you need to successfully grow vegetables in straw bales....would recommend this compact treasure to anybody interested in saving their back from the arduous task of digging fresn garden beds. Thanks Craig LeHoullier and Amazon !!!
Two categories of gardening books are:(1) Beautiful, lengthy, relatively expensive books that gardeners and would-be gardeners read, dreaming of the unlikely day when they might have the time and resources to have a garden that looks like the pictures and (2) Short, less expensive, "just the facts" books that give a concise but complete summary of information to enable real world gardeners to deal with a particular issue.
Growing Vegetables in Straw Bales is a type 2 book.
It would be possible to spend months or years reading the many recent books, articles and online sources regarding straw bale gardening techniques, and even more time if one included all that's been written over the decades about growing diverse crops in layers of straw, piles of straw, cages filled with straw and barrels or other containers of straw. However, if your goal is to quickly access all the essential information you need for a first try with this technique, Growing Vegetables in Straw Bales is an excellent choice.
I bought the book upon the recommendation of another long term gardener, and read it in less than an hour. In compact form it summarizes the properties of the straw bale growing environment, means to maximize productivity, basic materials needed and best sources, bale location selection and solutions for potential location selection problems, plant support, feeding and watering considerations, specific suggestions for successful bale-growth of a variety of vegetables, a brief section on dealing with some of the most common problems, and considerations valuable when planning ahead to most easily get the best future gardening benefit from used bales.
Pictures are high quality sketches that illustrate practical information useful to those seeking a successful straw bale growing experience -- no space (or printing expense) put into pretty pictures for garden dreamers.
As to the author's qualifications, anyone familiar with the leaders in the home gardening area knows that Craig LeHoullier -- nctomatoman -- has long gardening experience, beginning as a l'il gardening 'helper' in the 1950's and continuing over the decades in parallel with his professional career in chemistry. Often working with various partners who shared one of his areas of interest, he has researched, located, grown, preserved and distributed forgotten veg varieties that had disappeared into seed banks and delicious unknown varieties that lurked in isolated locations. (Ever hear of Cherokee Purple?) He has been a leader in encouraging new developments, contributing significant innovation himself as co-founder of Tomatopalooza and as inspiration for and northern hemisphere manager of the Dwarf Tomato project -- which develops and releases to the public tomato varieties where smaller plants are big tomato producers.
Driven by many years of living in locations where his available gardening space was limited or of poor quality, he has been a long time innovator in the area of container gardening, including dense seedling planting methods and limited purpose tiny container growing of garden plants. His work to combine useful containers, affordable growing media, productive nutritional blends and effective supports for container plants has enabled many to garden abundantly where no sensible person would think it possible.
His lifetime habit of sharing information about his projects with gardeners ranging from hopeful beginners to long time experts taught him to express himself in language useful to those of any skill level.
This, combined with a post retirement year of specialized experimentation to see which container growing techniques were most useful with straw bales has enabled Dr. LeHoullier to produce an excellent, easy to read, concise guide for those wishing to productively add this special type of container -- baled straw -- to their own gardening experience.
Pretty short book. Buy the Joe Karsten book instead. It has a lot more information in it about straw bale gardening than this one does. Joe invented the process, and his book has great advice about every aspect of using straw bales. Also, lots of photos of gardens to give you ideas about how you can lay things out in your yard. This book has a fifth of the information.