MARCH 2016 ;e Costco Connection 45
The Costco Connection
Costco members will find herb, salad and
tomato seed pod kits, non-GMO garden
vegetable seeds, composters, garden beds,
watering kits, greenhouses and more in
select Costco locations and on Costco.com.
The compression, coupled with many doses
of water and high-nitrogen fertilizer (
conventional or organic), accelerates the decomposition of the straw.
This process, called “conditioning the
bale,” has several benefits. Within 10 to 15
days of conditioning, the straw begins to
turn into compost, which releases a host of
nutrients to nourish plant growth. It also
releases heat, which is one of the great
advantages of SBGs. While the topsoil in
northern climates lingers in the 50-degree
range in early spring, the internal temperature of the decomposing straw may climb to
well over 100 degrees.
After about two weeks of conditioning,
the temperature cools enough to be hospitable to seeds and seedlings. So plants that love
warm soil, such as tomatoes, can be put into
the bales three or four weeks earlier than any
reasonable soil gardener would plant them.
Because of the extended growing season,
Karsten is able to grow sweet potatoes and
peanuts successfully in Minnesota.
You can plant both seeds and seedlings in
the bales. For seeds, spread a thick layer of
sterile planting mix on the top of the bale to
make a seedbed. For seedlings, plant directly
into holes cut into the bales.
Once the plants are in place, all that’s left
is watering. Karsten’s own garden features
soaker hoses connected to a timer at the
spigot, but smaller gardens can be hand-watered with roughly the same time commitment as any container garden. The
actively decomposing straw creates enough
nutrients that in most cases no additional
fertilizing is needed.
Straw bales tend to collapse and lose
their structure by the end of the season, so
they cannot be replanted. But, Karsten points
out, the old bales make beautiful compost
that can be used for many purposes around
any yard and garden.
And next season, a brand-new batch of
bales can be procured to begin the whole process anew.
“What we’re really doing is making soil,”
Karsten explains, “perfect soil that you can
put anywhere you want and get your garden
Mark Johanson is a home-and-garden writer
and editor from St. Paul, Minnesota.
WAN T THE CHANCE to win a Costco Cash card and get your outdoor
kitchen featured in a future issue of The Costco Connection?
As backyards become extensions of indoor living spaces, one of
the areas of the house that many are extending outdoors is the kitchen.
And a simple grill is no longer the only must-have item for a patio.
Homeowners are installing full stoves, ovens, refrigerators and sinks to
fill the bill. Costco would like to know how you’ve decked out the yard in
our Best Outdoor Kitchen Contest. Read below to find out how to get
started (complete official rules are at
TO ENTER, email up to three high-resolution
photos (300 dpi at least 4 inches by 6 inches) along
with a short write-up about your outdoor kitchen—
e.g., what items make up your kitchen, whether you
did it yourself or had a professional design and
install it, whether it was done over a period of time
or all at once, how you have used it, etc.; no more
than 200 words), and your Costco membership
number and contact information, to connection@
costco.com, with “Best Outdoor Kitchen Contest” in
the subject line. Limit one entry per household.
Three winners will be selected by a panel of
judges whose decisions will be final based on the
following judging criteria: ( 1) the most apt, interesting and original photo and write-up; ( 2) consistency
of the photo and write-up with the contest theme;
and ( 3) the overall quality and creativity of the photo
and write-up. Prizes are as follows. First place:
$500 Costco Cash card; second place:
$250 Costco Cash card; third place: $100
Costco Cash card.
Winners are responsible for all taxes associated with the receipt or use of a prize. By entering
the contest you agree to be bound by these
official rules, and hereby grant Costco a perpetual
worldwide license to use, modify, publish and distribute your entry, and (except where prohibited
by law) your name, city of residence, likeness
and prize information in The Costco Connection
and for promotional or advertising purposes without compensation.
The contest starts March 1, 2016, at 12:00:01 p.m. P T,
and all entries must be received by November 1, 2016, at
11:59: 59 p.m. P T. Winners will be notified by email or regular
mail by February 28, 2017. No purchase or payment is nec-
essary to enter or win this contest. Purchase will not improve
an individual’s chances of winning. Odds of winning depend
on the number and quality of eligible entries received.
Contest void where prohibited. To be eligible to enter and
win the contest, you must be (a) a legal resident of the 50
United States or D. C.; (b) at least age 18 (or the age of
majority in your jurisdiction, whichever is older); and (c) a
Costco member at the time of entry. Costco’s and Nexgrill
Industries’ employees, officers, and directors and their families are not eligible. Costco is not responsible for any late,
lost, misrouted, illegible or corrupted entries. By entering,
you irrevocably release Costco from any and all claims you
may have now or in the future related to the contest or any
prize. Contest is governed by the laws of the state of
Washington. Contest is subject to Official Rules. Other
details and restrictions apply, so visit
com/ contest-rules.html for Official Rules. Sponsor: Costco
Wholesale Corporation 999 Lake Drive, Issaquah, WA 98027.
In our digital editions
Click here to watch a straw-bale
presentation by Joel Karsten.
(See page 8 for details.)