Joel Karsten introduces readers to a simplified raised-bed growing method in his book "Straw Bale Gardens."
The method involves planting food crops directly in beds of straw with a small amount of planting mix instead of planting in soil. The bale serves as a container, and the straw provides nutrients to the plants as it decomposes throughout the growing season.
It's an inexpensive way to garden that eliminates weeding and puts the plant at a raised height for less bending, Karsten says. At the end of the season, you just toss the bale onto a compost pile and start fresh the next year.
Straw bales can be used to grow vegetables, fruits, herbs and even flowers.
"Straw Bale Gardens" is published by Cool Springs Press and sells for $19.99 in softcover.