Hay Bale Gardening

Discussion in 'Gardening' started by dianehodges, Feb 16, 2013.

  1. dianehodges

    dianehodges Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Does anyone do hay bale gardening? What are the advantages and disadvantages? Is it as productive as gardening in the dirt?
    Going to get 4 bales today to begin the process What vegtables do you plant when you use this method?
     
  2. StrawBaleGrdner

    StrawBaleGrdner New Egg

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    Feb 16, 2013
    I have been growing in straw bales for a couple of decades, it is the only way to garden if you ask me. Stay away from bales of hay if you can, hay has seeds and those seeds sprout when watered, while straw should be virtually sterile because the seeds are harvested prior to baling the stalks. The raised height makes it much easier to plant and harvest. They heat up in the spring as they begin to decompose, then stay warm for 4-6 weeks in the early part of the season after I plant or seed into them. I get no weeds. They hold water really well and are a breeze to water with a soaker hose running down each bale and a battery hose end timer. You ask if the crops grow as well in straw as they do in soil, well the actual fact is that you are not growing in straw, since the straw is decomposing quickly and becoming "soil" so the answer is that everything does as well or better in the straw bales. No need to rotate crops, since you'll usually start with new bales each spring, and that means you are creating new soil inside each bale every year, so no lingering insect or disease issues that can accumulate in soil. Also, the compost you end up with the spring after you have used up the bales is incredible. I use it to fill my pots, window boxes, and containers, and to enhance the soils around my annual beds and perennial gardens. It is better than any bagged potting mix, weed free, and costs nothing!

    Try it, you'll never go back to traditional gardening in soil.
     
  3. gaitngirl

    gaitngirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    I started straw bale gardening a few years ago - I love it! I made several of my raised beds using them. Don't use hay! The seeds in the hay will overwhelm whatever you're trying to grow.
    One thing about straw bale gardening . . . water consumption. You do have to water more often or use a soaker hose, as SBG mentioned. The bales usually take about 10 days to prep before you plant in them. You want to start the compost process beforehand and get past the 'hot' stage. Using a nitrogen based fertilizer really helps to get it going. I add chicken and horse manures to the bales.
    Another nice thing about straw bale gardening is that, with the heat generated by the composting, you can sometimes start a bit earlier in the season - the heat will help protect the new plants. I've covered the bales in a hoop house environment before with great success.


    Good luck with your garden!
     
  4. denasfarm

    denasfarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sweet Home Alabama!!
    I am interested in trying this. What plants work best for this? Do you have pictures?
     
  5. Blackjack1392

    Blackjack1392 Out Of The Brooder

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    When you guys say straw, are you talking about pine straw?
     
  6. StrawBaleGrdner

    StrawBaleGrdner New Egg

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    Feb 16, 2013
    Pine straw doesn't work. Wheat, oat, barley or rice straw works best. Pictures at StrawBaleGardens dot com if you want to learn more.
     
  7. yinepu

    yinepu Overrun With Chickens

    we can't get straw here.. when I first asked about it they looked at me like I had grown an extra head
     
  8. bluejeans

    bluejeans Chillin' With My Peeps

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    16 to 20 bucks a bale in new mexico .. if they have it ..
     
  9. yinepu

    yinepu Overrun With Chickens

    Lol.. i'm not planning a trip to New Mexico for straw.. with gas prices the way they are and the way my old truck likes to guzzle it.. it would cost me a small fortune! [​IMG]
     
  10. denasfarm

    denasfarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sweet Home Alabama!!
    WOW That's expensive. I was complaining that it was $5 a bale for straw and $7 for Hay here...I buy both. When we lived in TN it was $3 for Hay.
    So Once you get a Bale what next? Pour seeds on top?
     

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