Learning a new way

Kelsey Gerhardt|Daily News Lisa and Gary Smith and Bobby Wilder are pictured with their straw bale garden. This family is trying a new raised bed technique to keep out weeds and use less space to produce a high yield.

Kelsey Gerhardt|Daily News Gary Smith and Bobby Wilder check on the cucumbers growing in their straw bale garden.

Kelsey Gerhardt|Daily News Lisa Smith keeps an eye on her tomatoes growing from a straw bale.

Tried and true garden tips include lots of rain, sunshine and warm weather, but garden types have varied greatly over the years. Pineville residents Lisa and Gary Smith and Bobby Wilder have planted seeds using a new type of gardening featuring straw bales.

“I did the heavy work and got the bales ready and they planted it. They like to watch it grow and I like to eat it,” said Gary.

The process includes fertilizing and watering straw bales for two weeks, planting and covering the seeds with dirt. They have a total of 32 bales planted with cucumbers, potatoes, squash, peppers, cabbage and many other summertime favorites.

“It was interesting to me because it’s a way to do gardening with no weeding, no hoeing. Also, our soil isn’t great so I needed something that would work and I was looking for ease so this was perfect,” said Wilder.

The family learned about the process by researching on the internet and reading a book. They are continuing their learning experience by trial and error. While the Smiths enjoy this new era of gardening tips, Wilder prefers the traditional way.

“Well, now if the soil is right I like old time gardening better because you get to work in the dirt and with it more. It’s just the way its always been done,” said Wilder.

The Smiths have been married for 31 years. They are retired from working in several different facets of education in Eastern Kentucky and Bell County Schools. Wilder spends his free time relaxing, playing guitar and mandolin while watching his garden grow.

“This is just a way for us to continue our education and learn something new. I swore as a child I would never have my own garden, but the older I get the more I enjoy growing things, even if I’m looking for the easy way to do it,” said Lisa.

Tomatoes from the straw bale garden are beginning to ripen, and the bright red color is a sign the family will try this again next spring.

Kelsey Gerhardt can be reached at 606-302-9093 or on Twitter @kgerhardmbdn.

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