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straw bale gardening

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straw bale gardening

Post  Thomas on 1/7/2013, 11:18 am

I am thinking of giving this type of gardening a try this season. I am thinking of growing tomatoes and plants that can be vertically grown, as the bales would be aligned against a 6' chain link fence. I would appreciate any feedback on this type of gardening.
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Re: straw bale gardening

Post  CharlesB on 1/7/2013, 1:21 pm

Are you going to use the bales as the walls to hold in your soil mix? Or are you going to make pots out of the bales by hollowing them out?
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Re: straw bale gardening

Post  Thomas on 1/7/2013, 5:55 pm

I plan to use the bales as "pots" or planting beds. I came across a site from Washington State that describes how to condition the bales i.e. cause them to, begin composting. After conditioning, you would plant right in the bales. This looks like an easy method to cheaply and easily create a raised bed garden.
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Re: straw bale gardening

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 1/8/2013, 9:40 pm

I'm going to do likewise. You simply hollow out and put some Mel's mix into them for planting after you begin the composting process.

I have a 5' x 10' 12" deep garden and 3, 4x4 table tops and will plant probably 6 hay bales, which I will get for little or no cost from the rancher that has cattle on our land. I'll take the spoiled bales off their hands and they'll have a good start on being ready to plant in a month or so.

I'm going to plant my squash, melons, pumpkins and other wildly spreading plants in them. I should be able to plant 2 larger type plants in them and train them out and up.

I'm told you can get 2 seasons then you toss them in the compost pile.
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Re: straw bale gardening

Post  FamilyGardening on 1/9/2013, 2:21 am

we love pictures....would love to see update's through out the season....it sounds really neat Very Happy

happy gardening
rose
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Re: straw bale gardening

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 1/9/2013, 2:33 am

There are some good resources out there:

http://www.growandmake.com/straw_bale_garden

http://anr.ext.wvu.edu/lawn_garden/straw_bale_gardening

https://www.facebook.com/learntogrowastrawbalegarden

LOTS OF GREAT PICTURES HERE: http://strawbalegardens.com/ (I bought his e-book and read it this evening). I'll have to figure out the fertilizers for organic growing, he explains what to use for it.
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straw bales

Post  johnp on 1/9/2013, 9:05 am

I have used straw bales in my garden the last three years. Make sure you use straw and not hay bales or you will be sorry. I only grew melons and squash because it is so easy to guide the vines in different directions. This past spring I composted the bales sooner than the two weeks or so that was recommended. This summer the crops did poorly and most plants died before the end of the season and the yield was small. I tore the bales apart and found that the bales had composted toward the bottom and the plant roots were all at the very top. This year I build two 4x8 raised beds and will not use straw.
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Re: straw bale gardening

Post  Kelejan on 1/9/2013, 9:13 am

I wonder if straw bales would make a good outdoor worm bin so that the worms survive during our cold winters?
For the time being I will stick to my regular SFG beds but will follow everyone's efforts at straw bale gardening with interest.
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Re: straw bale gardening

Post  Thomas on 1/9/2013, 10:58 am

Thanks for all the great comments. When I get this set up, I will post pictures. In addition to the straw bales, I will be redoing my 4X8 raised bed plot, making it narrower. I can't seem to reach across like I used to.
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Re: straw bale gardening

Post  plantoid on 1/9/2013, 2:55 pm

Thankss for the links AJR,

It has suddenly opened up an additional useable space on a 20 x 18 foot slabbed patio that does not get much , use plus I can fully compost the straw bales with animal manure after a years use out of them . Looks like I'll be able to make the concrete jungle burst into bloom & crops a darn sight easier than filling umpteem tubs and barrels with nice MM .

Several people have asked about the bales collapsing .
My thoughts are to individually wrap one or two bales up in sheet of long life pond liner that I purchased it at an end of season sale as an end of roll at half price 4 yards x 5 yards for £15 .

Wrap it so it becomes a bale in a tank of pond liner and the other is to use strong knitted garden 3/4 inch mesh netting that is as cheap as chips mainly to keep all the stray straws all in one pace once the bale collapses.

As I have numerous ones to spare I hope to use two light weight ratchet tie straps to form the tank and netting wraps around on each bale.
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Re: straw bale gardening

Post  deriter on 1/9/2013, 3:54 pm

This just might be fun to try. The best thing about it that I see is that when it has given out after 1 or 2 seasons, it just goes into the compost pile almost already composted. I guess I have to try a couple of them a try just to see how they work. Now what to plant in them?
It is a little disappointing that they talk about how much more water they need as compared to other types of gardening. Of course sfg takes a lot of watering too.
What was your take on it as to lay the bale down with strings up & down, or around? Should be around shouldn't it so the strings don't rot? Or strings up & down so the water don't run through?
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Re: straw bale gardening

Post  CindiLou on 1/9/2013, 4:58 pm

As far as I am finding out you set it on it's side so the strings are horizontal...some pros and cons



1. Make sure the string is running around each bale and not on the side touching the ground in case it's degradable twine such as sisal. The straw is now vertical, cut ends up.

This means when you water much of it will go straight through the bale and wash away.

2. Laying your bale or bales with the twine touching the ground (as long as it's plastic or wire twine of course), means that the straw stalks are horizontal and water will more likely soak in and not flow through the bale and be wasted.

This method of laying down your straw bale lends itself to using a soaker hose better than the vertical way. If using a soaker hose, which are marvelous by the way, lay it under the twine to stay in place. The steady slow drips of water will find it hard to escape through channels, unlike the vertical method whereby the water channels downwards.
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Re: straw bale gardening

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 1/10/2013, 2:30 am

My bales got delivered this afternoon, I have a few more coming tomorrow. They're already weathered, so I'll start conditioning them in about a 2 weeks to a month. Our latest frost date is April 1 or so and they'll make their own heat and green house using the methods I learned from https://www.facebook.com/learntogrowastrawbalegarden

The temperatures inside the bales will be 30 degrees or so warmer than the outside temps so they self heat with a covering, you can start 2-4 weeks earlier than normal with this message.

This is how his garden is set up for early seedling starting even in Minnesota. Also, reading the questions people have posted on his FB page and he's answered covers a lot. [img][url=http://www.servimg.com/image_preview.php?i=2&u=18039706]
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Re: straw bale gardening

Post  Turan on 1/11/2013, 11:24 pm

study
This answers the question of how to manage summer squash. I can put a bale where ever the squash won't bother anyone else with its large leaves. Then in the Fall it can all go into the compost pile.

It seems like a good way to start filling a new bed too.

I wonder a bit about the links suggestion for on going fertilizer use after the inside gets composting. I think I will use chicken manure for seasoning start. study

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Re: straw bale gardening

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 1/13/2013, 12:44 am

@Turan wrote: study
This answers the question of how to manage summer squash. I can put a bale where ever the squash won't bother anyone else with its large leaves. Then in the Fall it can all go into the compost pile.

It seems like a good way to start filling a new bed too.

I wonder a bit about the links suggestion for on going fertilizer use after the inside gets composting. I think I will use chicken manure for seasoning start. study
In the E-book, he tells you how to do it in an organic fashion - chicken manure, blood meal, and a few other natural fertilizers are mentioned. He isn't a big proponent of organic gardening, but he covers it.
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