Do you like trying new types of gardening methods to see how they work? Some people like to grow a variety of crops in containers or on a mound. An ingenious way to grow plants that you may want to try is straw bale gardening.
A couple of bales of straw are all you really need to get started with straw bale gardening. The best part is the bales of straw will become a raised garden bed in your backyard. There are many good reasons why you may want to try doing this on your homestead. You do not need to till any land or prepare soil.
The interior of your straw bales will break down just like compost over time. This means that you have a terrific way to use straw bale gardening to grow all types of plants. Just make sure to water regularly and wait for a bumper crop to develop.
Straw bales are not just the container, but also the growing media. Straw has very little nutritional value; however, as the straw inside the bale decomposes, it provides nutrients for the plants. The bales can normally only be used for one year or growing season. After that, the straw decomposes to the point that it no longer provides nutrients. Then in the fall, whatever is left of the bale can be used as mulch or added to a compost pile. Be sure to use straw, not hay. Hay is usually baled grass or alfalfa, is green in color, and is fed to livestock as fodder. It is usually much more expensive than straw, does not have the water-holding capacity of straw, and contains seed heads which will sprout all over the bale…which is okay if you want a Chia Pet in your garden.
Straw Bale Summary
- Plants are elevated above the soil in straw bales so pests that overwinter in the soil will not be able to reach tender plants, making it ideal for squash, cucumbers, and other cucurbits often plagued by squash beetles.
- Plants have better access to light and air so diseases like powdery mildew are minimized.
- Plants are at a comfortable level for monitoring and harvesting and wire frames can be placed over the bales to accommodate climbing plants.
- You can plant in all areas of the bale. Since the entire bale is conditioned prior to planting, annual flowers, potatoes, etc. can be planted in the sides of the bales
- Once you have finished with your summer crops, the bales can be re-used for cool weather crops!
- When you are completely done them, the remaining bales can be torn apart and added to your other garden beds for rich compost.
- Straw bales are a worm paradise, so worm castings are already included in your bale.
- All the fertilizer your plants need are in the bale with one exception…..if you want to plant tomatoes, you need to add some crushed egg shells or tomato “food” to the bales.