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No, it is not magic, but it can be a lot of fun, and it can provide you with many nourishing meals too — even enough surplus veggies to can and preserve food for winter! Not only is a straw bale garden a great, temporary way to start a vegetable plot in your backyard, it is also a means to self-reliance and self-sufficiency. The more homesteading skills you can prepare your family with, the better! Just because it is easy to get started, it is not without work. When bales are wet, they are extremely heavy — once you have them in place, keep them there for the remainder of their life. Vegetables that are too top heavy are a no-go, corn and sunflowers for example.
WATCH RELATED VIDEO: Let's end world hunger with the straw bale gardens method - Joel Karsten - TEDxEdinaContent:
- How do I Grow Vegetables in a Bale of Hay?
- How To Grow Vegetables In Straw Bales – 6 Big Secrets To Success!
- How to make straw bale gardens
- Straw Bale Gardening ‒ The Complete Beginner's Guide
- How to Grow: Straw Bale Gardens
- Straw-Bale Gardening Gains Popularity
- Straw Bale Garden Results after My First Season
- Straw Bale Gardens Complete: Breakthrough Vegetable Gardening Method
- Planting a Strawbale Garden
- Don't Confuse Straw with Hay (Or Hay with Straw…) And what about "Straw Bale Gardening"?
How do I Grow Vegetables in a Bale of Hay?
The jury is still out on my gardening season, but I can definitely attest to the fact that vegetables will grow in round hay bales. Our soil here in north central Texas is very alkaline with little actual topsoil. Mustang grapes and dewberries a thorny vine blackberry flourish.
Plus there are wild plums, cactus, and mesquite pods that are edible. I also have a small greenhouse that houses the malabar spinach, peppers, and a few winter tomatoes. The main considerations here are:. These are the conditions one must counter to ever successfully garden here.
How do we address these concerns? This potato method has been my most successful to date. We have been pulling out potatoes to eat and give away for a month now.
Tricky thing in NC Texas is that once the plants have died, you have to make sure you dig them immediately before they rot. Not like back home where you can leave them in the ground for a long time. To create this garden I first laid down cardboard. Then my husband used the tractor to dump a couple loads of mulch on the cardboard. I placed the already sprouted, cut and dried seed potatoes eye-side-up in the mulch. Finally, covered them with about a foot of hay. Wound a soaker hose through it on top.
Gathering the new potatoes is so easy! I put up my first raised beds about five years ago. Many thanks to Dr. Originally built them as keyhole gardens placing a cylinder cage down in the middle.
This is a layered bed where you alternate cardboard, mulch, manure, paper, leaves, grass clippings — whatever — and add earth worms. The intention is that you put your table scraps in that center cage and they nourish the garden bed. I never had enough to fill them, so it was an empty cage in the middle. I took them out the second year. It was immediately apparent, however, that I had discovered something that worked!
Despite a couple of years of drought and grasshoppers, I was starting to harvest vegetables. Two years ago I planted fruit trees in three of those raised beds. Plums, pears, peaches, persimmons, and pomegranates. That summer I broke my ankle, so they did not get watered, but still survived. Last year they were small enough that I planted vegetables amongst them.
I harvested carrots for the first time and froze 50 quarts of tomatoes. You can see in the pictures how tall these trees are this year and they are starting to produce. Contrast them with the walnut tree I planted 3 years ago in the ground. This year I added four more raised beds that have rotted logs at the bottom.
I layered cardboard, logs, creekbed dirt, cardboard, and mulch on the top. These house the fig trees, artichokes, and corn. I have never managed to get any of these crops to crops to survive in many previous attempts. At this point they all look wonderful. Three of the beds are built with concrete blocks, and one with dirt bags. Nor did I want to spend that much money. Then a friend of mine sent me an article about hay bale gardening.
These people were using square bales or straw bales. This was the best source of information. I went the 4 X 6 round hay bale route because there are so many rotting older round bales in the fields.
With delivery and a good price, I ended up with 11 bales. The most significant difference between the large bales and the smaller square bales is that the larger mass meant much higher temperatures during the conditioning process.To be able to get plants to grow in hay bales, you have to condition them with some sort of nitrogen fertilizer so they start composting.
You can use commercial nitrogen fertilizer or urine also nitrogen fertilizer. Water them every day, but apply nitrogen every other day.
Taking the temperatures of the bales with a meat thermometer, some bales were over degrees the highest my thermometer would go.
Large bales will get much hotter and take longer to cool down enough to plant. For square bales you only need to condition them for about 10 days. I put tomato plants in bales before they were cool enough and it burned them. After moving some and putting soil around others, nearly all survived.
That was my first mistake. Fortunately the bales cooled down after about another week. The second mistake I made also involved conditioning. I bought bales from two different farmers. The first group was only loosely wrapped with cheap plastic or not at all when I began the conditioning. They are the bales that got really hot. For the second group, I shrink wrapped them before I started to apply the nitrogen.
It seemed like a good idea because it would hold the moisture in. The second group of bales did not compost like the first group. I kept the moisture in, but at the same time kept the oxygen out. Once I finally realized the bales were not composting, I pulled the plastic down a couple of feet and applied more nitrogen to the outer edges. Next time around I will allow more time for conditioning and cooling, and will not shrink wrap the bales until composting is well underway.
I have soaker hoses and timers on everything. Since it is already about degrees in the open sun, I sewed burlap shades for most beds. My husband welded a 3 inch T at the top of 4 ft. I attached each shade at the corners to four of these rebar stakes with plastic wire ties. It was mid-May before I finished the shades. The benefit was profound. Everything had been burning up in the sun.
This is always the crucial time of year. Will the weather cooperate so I can harvest? The potato and onion crops will be fine. Getting some eggplant, squash and zucchini, and quite a few green beans. I see many little watermelons, but no cantelope. There are small ears of corn. Will they get bigger? Menu Resilience Building a world of resilient communities. Get Resilience delivered daily. Share Tweet Print. Filter by Audio Video All content.
How To Grow Vegetables In Straw Bales – 6 Big Secrets To Success!
From there, you plant your vegetables within the straw bale, and because they are growing in compost, the plants have a high success rate. These are all reasons why people are trying this idea. However, there are some plants which grow better in a straw bale than others. There is only one plant which is a definite no-no when planting a straw bale garden — regular sized corn. The problem with growing corn in a straw bale garden is it will get too tall which will lead to either the corn breaking off from lack of support, or it destroying the straw bale under the weight of the plant. Also, your corn is more prone to wind damage because of how tall it grows. Add a few more inches to its height by growing it in a straw bale, and you have a real problem on your hands.
Well, it is officially spring so we can start planting things in the gardens. Of course, I'm more into the vegetable garden because I like to eat things I.
How to make straw bale gardens
I have read about this concept but had never actually seen it in action. That was until I met Tracey and saw for myself her fabulous straw bale gardens. I often get asked what is the best way for kids to have a vegie patch in a rented property, I think straw bales may be about the perfect solution. With almost no gardening experience and limited space, the kids and I have had a ball with our straw bale garden. I figured lots of other families would love this just as much, which is how BaleGrow was born. What is straw bale gardening? Straw bale gardening is simple. Instead of planting into soil, we use straw bales — prepared in a special way — to plant our vegetables and herbs.
Straw Bale Gardening ‒ The Complete Beginner's Guide
Horticulturist Joel Karsten began growing bumper crops in straw bales after college. He even teaches people in impoverished nations how to grow their own produce in straw. These easily accessible, affordable, and self-contained straw planters are conducive to growing hearty plants nearly anywhere. Growing up on a farm in Minnesota, Karsten noticed plants that germinated in straw bales grew better and stronger. His garden thrived.
By planning and preparing in advance, conditioning the bales, and choosing the right plants, you can build a solid basis to start growing and harvesting your own fruits and vegetables from straw bales this season.
How to Grow: Straw Bale Gardens
More Information ». Although straw bale gardening is an ancient practice, it has become a trending gardening technique in the last several years. Straw bale gardens are inexpensive to set up and suited for locations with limited space. The use of a straw bale raises the garden off the ground making it more accessible to individuals with limited mobility or for those wishing to do less bending in the garden. Additional advantages of this technique include easier relocation of the garden space if necessary and the recycling of rich organic material into the landscape once the bale has out lived its use. Straw bale gardening is easily detailed in a few basic steps.
Straw-Bale Gardening Gains Popularity
A bale garden uses hay or straw bales in place of soil. Seeds can be planted directly on top of the bale or seedlings can be used. Bale gardening is one way to garden if you do not have a lot of soil or space; or if your soil is hard to work. Bale gardening is also easier on your hands and wrists, especially if you have arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions. Most vegetables, flowers, or herbs that you want to grow in the ground, can be grown in bales. Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, melons, broccoli, cauliflower, marigolds, petunias, basil, cilantro, and parsley are only a few of the plants that do well growing in bales.
At its essence, a raised bed is just an elevated area of soil used for planting vegetables, herbs, flowers, and other plants.
Straw Bale Garden Results after My First Season
I had an email one winter from Michelle, a new listener to the podcast version of my radio show , who was thinking of trying straw-bale gardening that year to grow vegetables. Michelle asked if I could invite an expert in the subject to be a guest, please. Read along as you listen to the February 20, edition of my public-radio show and podcast using the player below.
Straw Bale Gardens Complete: Breakthrough Vegetable Gardening Method
If you struggle with poor quality soil or simply want an instant, fuss-free raised bed I've got a fantastic, low-cost solution for you. Read on or watch our video to discover just what you need to start your own abundant, easy-care straw bale garden…. Straw is the dry, hollow stalks left from cereal crops like wheat and barley. It has so many uses, from animal bedding, basketry and hats, to thatching, construction and as a source of fuel. It makes a great mulch, can be used to grow potatoes and mushrooms, can help keep ponds clear, and makes instant planters. Straw bales eventually decompose like any other organic material, but because the outside edges are less insulated, they break down slower than the straw towards the center of the bale.
Straw bale gardening is an excellent solution for many gardeners around the world. This information comes from Joel Karsten, the creator of this gardening method and author of several books including Straw Bale Solutions and Straw Bale Gardens Complete.
Planting a Strawbale Garden
Straw bale gardening has transformed the way I grow vegetables. With a minimal amount of preparation, a delivery of straw bales, and an understanding of how straw bale gardens work, I have had some of the most productive vegetable harvests in my gardening career. The advantages are: limited weeding; I can choose the sunniest spot on my property, even if it is the end of the driveway; and I only must commit to that location for a year. Straw bale gardening is essentially growing your garden produce in a working compost pile. The science behind the decomposition of the straw bale is what makes it the ideal growing media for vegetables. Nitrogen and water added to straw through fertilization feeds bacterial growth to create "green manure.
Don't Confuse Straw with Hay (Or Hay with Straw…) And what about "Straw Bale Gardening"?
A thrifty, versatile way to garden is to create a straw bale garden. I put one in my backyard because I wanted a fun way to create a low maintenance garden while keeping with the garden theme of Harvest. There is no over watering, no weeding yay , and at the end of the season you can compost the left over bales. There is a two to three week bed preparation phase to prepare the bales for planting.