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Hay, no, it’s straw bale gardening

No doubt, Joel Karsten is onto something with straw bale gardening — you don’t get to be a home improvement celebrity with a dud idea.

So go to the Oklahoma City Home + Garden Show next weekend at State Fair Park: noon to 9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Jan. 20, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Jan. 21. For ticket information and other details, go to

Karsten will demonstrate and offer tips on the technique, which uses straw bales as planting medium and container, and natural compost.

Two things:

Listen closely when he talks about the difference between straw bales and hay bales. And then make sure you use straw bales, not hay bales.

In a nutshell, straw bales have dead straw, and hay bales have entire plants — wheat, rye, alfalfa, whatever — and seeds. And those seeds can come up wherever the bale returns to nature.

I learned this the hard way years ago, when a section of my garden turned into a hay meadow the season after I experimented with bale gardening, and unthinkingly used hay, not straw.

Also, listen closely when he talks about sources for straw bales, and the dangers of using straw from hay crops where certain herbicides were used.

Your garden could be dead before it gets started because of residual toxins.

Other feature attractions at the show:

Clint Harp, host of DIY Network’s show “Wood Work” and owner of Harp Design Co. Harp’s designs have been featured on HGTV’s “Fixer Upper.”

Matt Fox, host of HGTV’s “Room by Room.” He will emcee the Lifestyle stage for the entire show, and demonstrate weekend projects using basic supplies from home improvement stores.

Rebuilding Together OKC. The Oklahoma City Home + Garden Show has partnered with the nonprofit to showcase its work in rebuilding homes and neighborhoods. The organization will offer workshops all weekend to show people how to install windows, fix toilets, repair drywall, use electric hand tools and more.

Landscapers Lane. Four landscapers will turn more than 2,200 square feet of Bennett Event Center into a lush oasis for strolling and resting.

Ultimate Backyard Oasis. Another 8,400 square feet of Bennett Event Center, turned over to landscaping and outdoor living.

DIY Container Gardens To Go. Tony’s Tree Plantation will have 1,400 square feet of trees, flowers and bushes, plus DIY arrangements for purchase in the Pavilion.

Make It Take It classes in the Centennial Building. Sign up at

Shelfie Challenge. “Try your hand at interior decorating. Start with an ordinary shelf and accessorize with items from At Home to turn the blank slate into a custom style. Post a picture of your design to social media, and the amateur decorator receiving the most likes for his or her space by the end of the show wins the shelf and all accessories used.”

Hero Day. Free admission Jan. 21 for active and retired military, firefighters and police officers.

Made in Oklahoma. Eight Oklahoma companies for home and garden products will be featured in the Bennett Event Center.

Foodieville Truck Rally. Jan. 21, a variety of tasty treats from local food trucks.

Wine Village. Bennett Event Center. Sample and learn about wineries and vineyards in the region.

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