My first Straw bale garden

Discussion in 'Gardening' started by chicknboots, Mar 4, 2015.

  1. chicknboots

    chicknboots Out Of The Brooder

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    Our garden area has poor soil and stubborn pasture grasses. I decided to try a straw bale garden this year to hopefully improve the soil. I laid down 2 layers of cardboard over the area and put 35 bales down on it in a comb pattern. The row all the way to the left is a single row for tomatoes. The rest are double rows. There's a single row on one side connecting the other rows which will be for winter squash. There's a slope for the vines to trail down. Most of the bales are cut side up but I forgot in the whole lay out process about that so there are some that are upside down. I laid a thick layer of chicken manure on top and placed soaker hoses. I cut up wire hangers and bent the pieces into u shapes to hold the soaker hose in place. Old t posts are helping hold the bales in place and Im going to string wire up for tomatoes, peas, beans, cucumbers. I'm putting bark chips down over the carboard to make it look nice and add traction. I'm 10 days into the soaking/conditioning stage. I've added ammonium sulfate twice but no sign of heating up so far. I've got about 3 weeks before I need to start planting though.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2015
  2. chicknboots

    chicknboots Out Of The Brooder

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    [​IMG]
     
  3. N F C

    N F C doo be doo be doo Premium Member

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    I've heard of gardeners using this method but I've never really checked in it. I'm going to follow your progress and see how this works out for you. Very interesting!
     
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  4. chicknboots

    chicknboots Out Of The Brooder

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    I've high hopes for it. I was originally going to do a lasagna (layered) garden and the cardboard was the first step for that. I'm pretty sure that will eliminate the fight against the grass for at least this year. It sounds like the conditioning stage is the key to success so I'm just going to be patient and make sure we are thru it before I plant. The height of the bales and the fact that my garden already looks organized are pluses so far. I'm going to put a timer on the soaker hose to I won't have watering to worry about either. I'm doing mostly just one type of vege per bale so hopefully can do a series of plantings - something I used to do when doing square foot gardening. If this fails at least I should be well set up for compost :) I got the bales for 3 bucks each which I think was a cheap investment towards good soil.
     
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  5. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    You scored big at $3/bale. The last time I checked here, they were $8.50/bale! Don't forget that you can plant in the sides of them as well!

    Is there a reason why you used Ammonium Sulfate? It lowers pH. I'm just curious.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2015
  6. chicknboots

    chicknboots Out Of The Brooder

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    I was thinking of planting marigolds in the sides as a bug deterrent. I got them cheap by buying them from a farm and loading them myself. They are nice clean looking wheat straw bales.
     
  7. N F C

    N F C doo be doo be doo Premium Member

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    This will be our 3rd season for gardening and we've been fighting bad soil from the beginning. Everything is extremely sandy here (we call our place The Sandbox for a reason). We keep working compost into it but it will take a long time to be decent. One thing I like about your bales are the height, not getting any younger here and being on the knees hunched over rows in the dirt is tiring.

    I hope you'll provide updates along the way so I can follow your progress. This might be something for us to consider. You really scored on hay for $3 a bale. Ours runs about $6-$7 so before we invest too much, I'd like to see how this works.

    BTW, we're in the northern part of FL which is grow zone 8. What zone or area of the country are you in?
     
  8. chicknboots

    chicknboots Out Of The Brooder

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    I used the ammonium because it was recommended on several sites for the conditioning phase.
     
  9. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    Well, ok then! keep us informed. I still have about 3' of snow on my garden!
     
  10. chicknboots

    chicknboots Out Of The Brooder

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    I'm also in zone 8 but in Oregon. Hay is very expensive here too but straw is cheap as long as you get it from farmers and not the feedstore.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2015

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