Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Straw Bale Gardening

The following picture conjures up the excitement level of watching paint dry, but this photo marks the true beginning of my straw bale garden project. Quite a few weeks ago Secret Agent man secured eighteen bales of straw, (not hay), from a farmer friend for an extremely good price. He organized them in the garden plot for me and then it was time to soak them. Due to all of the rain we had they received more of a soaking than I had anticipated, but that was really not a problem. Soaking allows the bales to heat up and then they need to cool down for at least a couple of weeks.




This weekend our weather was dry enough, finally, so that I could get my dirt/manure mixture onto the bales and sow some seeds.




Secret Agent Man had been saving manure for me in a special spot in the barn. That's love people...I don't care who you are.




I applied a compost tea mixture to the bales and then spread my manure/topsoil mixture onto the bales. Then, I sowed the seeds of my choice. I have tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, cantaloupes, peppers, and a couple of things that I don't remember.






Some people place small plants into the bale, but I had a plethora of leftover seeds, so that is what I am working with right now. Straw bale gardening has a few advantages over typical gardening. Here we have a clay based soil. Not optimal, but workable. These bales allow me to use the soil mixture of my choice and there is virtually no weeding. *Dancing and Cheering* Bales can be placed anywhere you may have a sunny spot and are said to grow most any crop except for carrots and potatoes, as the straw impedes their deep growth.




The bales can be used for more than one season and when their life is over they can help out in the compost heap. Bales can be arranged in any sort of fashion, but make sure you have them where you want them before soaking them. After they become wet, they are almost impossible to move.




Some folks prefer to use chemical fertilizers with this technique and some prefer to keep it as organic as possible. I am working toward the organic goal.




You can place tomato cages, or any type of stakes, right on top of the bales. They do require a good bit of watering so that the bales do not dry out. The bales will hold both heat and moisture allowing the plants to grow.




~I am really hoping my plants grow.~




This has been a bit of a rambling post, so I am providing a couple of links that I found helpful if you are thinking about a project like this. This lady gives some good information about the basics and this video shows a smaller, yet productive, straw bale garden in progress.




So how about you? Any of you have a garden in progress?








53 comments:

  1. Interesting idea. I'd never heard of using straw bales before. Looking forward to seeing how it turns out.

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  2. Ingenious! I have to try this too! You will keep us updated on the groth of your plants?? They make nice seats to, for when you need a break from harvesting all your veggies!

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  3. Absolutely amazing. I've tried most types of gardening,but not this.Can't wait to try it.

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  4. This is a fabulous way to garden! This works great for planting herb gardens. Almost no weeds, what could be better.

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  5. I have read about straw bale gardening and was intrigued. I will follow your progress and might try it next summer. I have 3 large boxes that I have planted with tomatoes, peppers and zucchini. We live on 50 acres, but have lots of rabbits and deer that like to eat our veggies. The raised boxes, next to the house keeps that to a minimum.

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  6. Very interesting. Never seen this before. Oh yeah, we have a small garden. Love to just watch it work its wonder.

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  7. I've never heard of that that is awesome...can't wait to see the progress..

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  8. Love this idea! I can't wait to see how yours turns out.
    My garden has not been planted yet. But it's coming soon. And I can't wait until it's all planted. It's a lot of work getting it started, but so relaxing to me.

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  9. We've grown potatoes in bales before, but have not tried this method. I'll be interested to see how this works for you!

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  10. My grandmother did this with tomatoes..I had completely forgotten about it! I'm going to try it, too.

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  11. This is so interesting...I do hope you keep up posted on the progress and the end results of your plants.

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  12. have never heard of this! awesome idea - hope it works well for you!

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  13. This is very interesting...looking forward to the progress.

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  14. I'm so excited to see how your plants turn out. We do raised beds and it in incredibly expensive to get started. We had to buy yards and yards of dirt to fill the squares since we are on solid rock. Most of our squares are 24 inches high, 4x4 and take almost a yard each.

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  15. Interesting. I've never heard of this kind of gardening. I'll look forward to seeing the fruits (and vegetables!) of your labor.

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  16. I'll have to keep this in mind. Straw bales are hard to come by around here and definitely not cheap.

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  17. love this !!!!! i have never seen this before...what a great idea...

    i have been loving gardening this year too...

    looking forward to spending Summer in the Garden with you, my friend

    kary and teddy

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  18. plethora just does not get used enough now a days.

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  19. I heard of this last year....a friend of mine put the tomato plants directly in the straw....alas he didn't do something right...they just burned up!
    I can't wait to see your garden progress. I could maybe have a garden like this....can't in the rocky poor ground we live on!

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  20. I have only a few succulents on my terrace. Some of them are quite nice, but I am sure that vegetables are much more interesting, I can't really imagine the satisfaction in eating my own produce!

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  21. What a cool idea! No garden going hear this year because we're still saving up for a 20 foot high deer proof fence. It's all good though. THE BOSS's second cousin has no more of an idea about how to grow a garden for just himself than I do about making lasagna for two. Now I have to learn how to can vegetables.....and maybe lasagna.

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  22. Sounds like a great way to grow stuff :-)

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  23. Farmchick -- Have a mixed garden in progress -- mix of flowers (all from seed) and veggies. Lots of wide beds of flowers, especially sunflowers. Didn't think I was going to do another garden but gave in. I'm sure this will be my last. Been gardening over 55 years.

    I tried bales for tomatoes last year. The thought of no weeds enticed me.

    -- barbara

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  24. I'll be interested to see how your experiment works. Our typical summers might be too hot and dry to make it work here, but this season has had such a wet start I should have tried it, too. As for us, we've got seedlings in the greenhouse, and there they'll stay for a few more weeks. The nights aren't frost-free yet.

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  25. Never heard of this. GREAT idea. We have rhubarb ready to pick and spinach coming up...that's it for now.

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  26. I've never heard of this! But then, me being the city girl in the farm life, I still don't know the difference between hay and straw! lol. I bet this produces great stuff. And I like how they are raised! Hope you keep us posted!

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  27. I haven't purchased any bales for this year. Waaahhh
    but maybe next. Or maybe we could start some and just let them be later crops. We have heat for a long time so it might work.I have my hands full with what I am not doing. Did you get that?
    I am really excited to see how it goes.

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  28. I'm fascinated. I have seen all kinds of gardening but this is a first for me. I am very interested to see just how well your veggies will do. I don't see why it wouldn't work wonders. Now I need to find some straw bales. I can imagine, these would work great for folks with limited movement, like myself, with both neck and back issues.
    Gotta try this one.
    BlessYourHeart

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  29. This is all new to me, but I live in the northeastern metroplex and I am sure the city fathers have some kind of ordinance against gardening like this. I will have fun following your progress over the summer. Better for you to have the manure there than for me to have it here.

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  30. What a cool idea!!! Love it!

    My husband and I just rented a small garden plot from an organic farm just up the road from us... I am so excited.

    Yes, it is love when the manure is being saved just for your garden.

    Keep us posted on your straw bale garden progress.

    Velva

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  31. I saw this somewhere else, can't remember where. It is very interesting, and I have never heard of it before. That's great about the weeds! We just got our potatoes and onions in the ground and planted tomatoes yesterday. We got a hard rain just a little while ago, I checked and the tomatoes survived. good luck with your crop.

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  32. This is so interesting Farmchick! I'ver heard of raised beds but not made from straw bales. I wish I could have a vegetable garden! I have concrete in my backyard so I grow things in large flower pots. I manage to grow some nice herbs and a few tomatoe and pepper plants and I have strawberries and raspberries in pots and also a fig tree.

    I'm looking to watching your garden grow!

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  33. Michelle - This is a lot less expensive than making raised beds. I am hoping it works out.

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  34. I've never heard of this type of gardening before, BUT I am going to keep tabs on you to see how it goes. I have an "IN" with a guy I know who bales wheat straw ;-)

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  35. That is so cool. Thanks for the links. I can't wait to find a house so that we can start gardening.

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  36. How interesting....I have never heard of this before, but sounds like a wonderful idea.. Can't wait to see what you produce in this garden...Looks like it will be a lot easier on the back...
    Hugs to you.
    Shug

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  37. LOL! Secret agent man! LOL! I love it. Your garden is going to be fantastic. I have one too- being a farmer's daughter I feel an obligation of sorts to have one plus i love growing my own herbs and veggies to use in my cooking! Just picked my first set of green onions and garlic!

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  38. Now that an intriguing concept. If you can eliminate weeding.... I'm a convert. :)

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  39. I've seen this method and wanted to try it sometime. It'll be interesting to see what happens with yours there! No weeds - that'd sure be great!!!

    Thanks for stopping by! Have a wonderful rest of the week!!!

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  40. What an awesome idea! And NO WEEDING??!! Brilliant...

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  41. I'm SO excited for gardening!! After reading every blog post about gardening I am about to burst at the seams with excitement! We're in the process of buying a house with a fantastic yard for gardening and other things....it's going to be great!

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  42. That sounds very interesting...I can't wait to see pictures of how this is coming along!

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  43. Yep, mine is basically flowers. I do plant some tomatoes at my back door. My MIL puts out enough to feed the whole county so I concentrate on my acre of flower gardens.

    I use tons on manure, I figure it's plentiful 'round here so why spend the money???

    I can't wait to see your garden highrise grow!

    God bless and have a glorious day sweetie!!!

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  44. I am TREMENDOUSLY impressed with this process!! PLEASE post more as things grow!! I do have a wonderful/large garden but it is NOT tilled as we have been unable to get a tiller through...so, so, so wet!!

    Cannot wait to hear more about your garden!

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  45. Wow! this is the first time I've heard of this! We're trying raised bed this year for the first time and hoping they'll work. It's so windy where we live, we have a problem keeping the plants warm enough....maybe the straw bales are the key...

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  46. Very cool! I had never heard of this before. I may just have to try it and compete with John and his little garden project and see which one turns out better. I'll keep you posted, Chick, if I do.

    Hope you had a great Mom's Day! I've been kinda out of commission for a few days. Busy, busy time of year.

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  47. I had never heard of straw bale gardening before. I'm anxious to see how it works for you.

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  48. We have a garen this year...a 10x10 that turned into a 40x40. This should be interesting ;)

    I've never seen or heard about bale gardening but it sure peaks my curiousity. I hope you share your progress with us!

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  49. As a social traveller (typing this in Haworth at the minute), I need serious help with the garden. June will be my month. haha

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  50. It's really no different from raised bed no till gardening (what I do) but as such, it will have similar issues - the continued composting of the bales in summer may overheat the roots and the pH may be too low because all that decomposition has acid byproducts. Obviously, those are things that can be dealt with.

    It's a cool idea and I hope it works for you!

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