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Thank you in advance for your thoughts, my name is Lynn and I live just south of Charlotte, NC. I have a passion for Land, and special knack for Land Analysis and Real Estate and have been doing is since my early 20s. With all that's happening, nationwide and here in my little “neck of the woods,” I have seen a tremendous amount of economic hardship with families. I live in a neighborhood with over 250 acres developed and master planed and another 200 acres to be developed, economy permitting. In my county, it's still the 5th fastest growing in the US. And, it's mind blowing the numbers of people that are still flocking to the Carolinas, because we have the healthiest home markets. Well, we are very devastated economically. And, my concern is with the great numbers of folks that recently transplanted to my community, there is a tremendous amount of joblessness showing up. And, the effect on the families is heartbreaking. Needless to say, I don't see things getting better, and it's going to be a rough 2009. First, many people don't know how to grow fruits and vegetables! They don't even know where to begin and it's overwhelming! Many people who live in neighborhoods have covenants and restrictions that control what they can do in their own yards.
My neighborhood is VERY restrictive! We are on County Water and Sewer. And, with being governed by HOA Laws, it is unwise to break or bend the rules. Straw Bale Gardening Is The Answer To My Prayers!!!! In addition to neighborhood Covenants and Restriction, our County, along with all of the Charlotte, NC surrounding Counties, has been under rigid water restrictions with penalties! However, in the worst of our restriction times this past year, residents could always use watering containers for their shrubs and beds. And, when watering restrictions would lighten up, garden beds are the first to be allowed water (not lawns).
I believe I can bring Straw Bale Gardening into my community and it will help so many families who are showing signs of hardship. So, I hope you are willing to share your opinions. Land is my passion and I study path of progress and Urban development with a concentration on sustainable communities and emerging mature population of baby boomers. Theres a part of my neighborhood where 55 homes were built for the needs of seniors. Zero (0) lot line cottages with postage stamp lots. As a single mother of two, I happened to buy my home in this section, but I'm an exception. I'm already seeing folks struggle with groceries and food costs. Since we have 5 national builders in this community, there's a range in values. But, in Waxhaw, my town, the amount of new neighborhoods and new home development is mind blowing! Many of these people have transplanted from other states and are now experiencing layoffs and job loss. Not to mention that we are seeing new home builders slashing prices up to six figures on some homes! We are now seeing a huge amount of preforclosures and foreclosures in homes above $250,000!
With all this said, I am on a mission to put together darn near "idiot proof" instructions on straw bale gardens. And, teach folks how to be more sustainable and keep food on the table. My parents had me when they were older, and both survived "The Great Depression." Too many people are hitting panic and with fear and hopelessness, they don't know how easy it is to start a garden. And, as far as HOAs and Restrictions are concerned, I believe even the strictest Covenants and Restrictions won't be violated by Straw Bale Gardens.
So, I'm going to ask a bunch of questions. I've researched and gathered a great many articles. And I'll note all those links at the end so you know what I've been looking at. But here are some questions, I've not seen answered.
1. For an average family of 4, how many properly planted straw bales can sustain a family.
2. Based on the above question, if you had to come up with a planting selection, planting mixture, ratio, and template, how would you go about this. Most vegetables will start yielding in 90 days. Right?
3. With nutrition being paramount, what would your ratio be relative to greens, squash, beans, potatoes and other vegetables. Remember, I want to accomplish a template for a benchmark.
4. I can see that some of you are building frames and finding more success with framing. Is this because of temperature issues? I might be able to present a framing unit drawing to my association for approval. If they approve one, then others can be approved. But, remember, cost is such an issue with some families. Also, putting flowering seeds and herbs on the sides of the bales will help make them more aesthetically pleasing.
Can you give me an idea, based on above questions, what kind of costs you have incurred?
5. I know pine straw is not effective. Also, synthetic string that does not rot and break down is best. Some of the articles I've noted say to put the bales onto plastic. Do you agree?
6. I almost want to standardize a "kit." Any thoughts you can give me would be wonderful.
7. Another thought I have would be to dedicate one bale to herbs. Have any of you done this?
8. Which melons do well? Strawberries? Also, I understand that the root plants as well as corn don't do well... Do you have a list of Yeahs and Neighs?
Here in the Carolinas, our growing season starts early. And the bale prep is at least 10 weeks. I've got a lot of work to do!
Thank you so much for your kindness and advice. I believe, people will survive the toughest of times, if we help each other. And, I'm hoping, with your help, to be able to make a difference, not only for my little family, but for others near me.