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Straw Bale Gardening

Planted Straw Bale Garden

Planted Straw Bale Garden (Photo credit: Scott SM)

What is a Straw Bale Garden?
A straw bale garden bed starts with a bale of straw. The bale is first “conditioned” and then vegetable plants are planted and grown inside the bale. A variety of crops
can be grown in bales, including tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, melons, and herbs. Bales are placed on the ground with no need to dig in the soil. The bales
create a raised bed making it easy to care for garden plants and harvest.
Advantages

  • Inexpensive way to create raised beds for gardening.
  • No digging or soil preparation is required, a big advantage when you have hard or rocky soil.
  • Bales can be placed on concrete or asphalt paving.
  • Bales are over two feet tall which makes gardening more accessible for gardeners who can’t bend over.
  • The bales are not permanentand are usually removed at the end of the season.
  • Used bales can be used in a compost pile or spread onthe ground to enrich the soil.
Straw bale planter

Straw bale planter (Photo credit: coconinoco)

Conditioning the bales. This process takes a few weeks, so you will want to plan ahead and do this before you plant. Bales held over from the year before will not need to go through this step.

To start the process, keep the straw bales wet for three to four weeks before planting. If you would like to speed up the process, here is a recipe that works well.

  • Days 1 to 3: Water the bales thoroughly and keep them damp.
  • Days 4 to 6: Sprinkle each bale with ½ cup urea (46-0-0) and water well into bales. You can substitute bone meal, fish meal, or compost for a more organic approach.
  • Days 7 to 9: Cut back to ¼ cup urea or substitute per bale per day and continue to water well.
  • Day 10: No more fertilizer is needed, but continue to keep bales damp.
  • Day 11: Stick your hand into the bales to see if they are still warm. If they have cooled to less than your body heat, you may safely begin planting after all danger of frost has passed.

Straw Bale Gardens | Root Simple

http://www.rootsimple.com3/25/13

Michael Tortorello (who profiled us when Making It came out) is one of my favorite writers covering the home ec/gardening subjects we discuss on this blog.

New garden technique grows plants in straw bales – Breckenridge

http://www.ohio.com4/8/13

When Joel Karsten was growing up on a farm in Minnesota, he noticed how lushly weeds grew from rotting bales of straw.

New garden technique grows plants in straw bales – Breckenridge

http://www.ohio.com4/8/13

When Joel Karsten was growing up on a farm in Minnesota, he noticed how lushly weeds grew from rotting bales of straw.

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