MASON CITY, Iowa - Spring is not that far away, and it will soon be time to get growing in your garden.
The 29th annual North Iowa Home & Landscaping Show is underway this weekend at the North Iowa Events Center. Vendors ranging from tile and woodwork, to roofing, siding and windows, to plants and gardening will be on hand providing fresh ideas for projects.
Joel Karsten is a Minnesota-based author and gardener who first popularized the straw bale garden method, which doesn't require much maintenance, or the use of a lot of tools. He says there are many advantages to it as compared to traditional gardening.
"It's raised off the ground so you don't have to bend over as far. There are no weeds - if you ever have any disease or insect problems that are soil borne, like tomato blight, this is a great solution for that. If you have black walnut trees and you can't plant in the soil, this is a great solution."
In addition, he's also sharing his work on a '6-week greenhouse', which is made out of cattle panels, plastic and 2' x 4's, with straw bales inside. It's aimed at getting plants started well before spring planting, and can fit for any gardener, younger or older, first timers or well experienced.
"As soon as you add nitrogen and water, the bales warm up to 130-140 degrees, so that will keep the greenhouse warm. You can put seed trays on top of these warm bales, and it keeps those seed trays nice and warm from the bottom, but yet they get cool air temperature on top. You get the nicest little vegetable starts out of that greenhouse. When the summer comes, tear the cover off in the middle of May, and plant the bales. Now your tomatoes and cucumbuers crawl over the top of the challice and form a tunnel."
Karsten will be among a few experts hosting seminars throughout this weekend. If you're interested in hearing from them, and checking out the rest of the show, the show runs from 10-7 on Saturday and 11-4 Sunday. Admission is $5, with kids 12 and under free.