Straw bale planter?

Discussion in 'Gardening' started by SweetCountryGirl, Mar 19, 2018.

  1. SweetCountryGirl

    SweetCountryGirl In the Brooder

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    Hi I was wondering if anyone had any special tips on how to make a hay bale garden?
    An old acquaintance told me you can grow things with a hay bale? Is this true? Does it work well? What can I grow?

    Thanks in advance
     
    Farmer Connie likes this.
  2. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

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    We bought book" straw bale gardening ".and put one in several years ago . it was a lot of fun and we grew a lot of vegetables. only problem was what to do with 20 bales of hay after the growing season was over . that's a lot of rotted straw to get rid of .what we did was we put the Bales up and staked soaker hose along the top of the bales and then watered them . that way it made things a lot easier . Make sure you buy the kind of hay that isn't going to sprout . I forget its name. Ours sprouted and it was kind of funny to see straw growing out of the bales. but we had a really good crop of vegetables.
    Best,
    Karen in Western Pennsylvania
     
    Spartan22 likes this.
  3. drewskimac

    drewskimac Songster

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    I am always hearing mixed opinions. Some people love it, some people say it doesn’t work. I would say that obviously it does work if so meany people do it and stand by it. I think the main challenge is learning how to do it the right way, which I know nothing about. YouTube would be your friend here!
     
  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

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    If you do a google search, you will turn up enough information to plant a successful hay/straw bale garden. I can get you started:

    How much gardening do you normally do? Are you new to gardening?

    For a hay/straw bale garden to be successful, it should be planted where you have easy access to water, either a hose or a rain barrel which gets refilled often. They are thirsty, and require a lot of water. If water is not plentiful where you live, you might do better planting in the ground. Of course sunlight is of primary importance!

    I like to put plastic under my hay bales, and fold it up around the bottom 6" of the bale to help keep the water in.

    It takes at least 2 weeks (longer is better) to condition your bales for planting. They should be laid out so that the ties run parallel to the ground. (that way, they won't rot). You condition the bales by thoroughly soaking them, and adding high nitrogen fertilizer according to a "schedule" that you will find with your google search. One thing that your search might not tell you is that urine is a great source of nitrogen and other nutrients!!! The fertilization process will get the interior of the bale "hot composting". When the temp of the interior drops to a "seed viable level" you are then safe to plant. Many folks put compost or a good starter mix in the planting holes, and even cover the top of the bale with an inch or two of sterile starter mix and plant their seeds/plants in that.

    It's a good idea to put some T posts at either end of your bale garden to help keep it from falling over as the center of the bales degrades. Those T posts will also be nice support for a plant trellis. Good crops: squash, cukes, herbs, potatoes, tomatoes (flowers can be tucked into the SIDES of the bale!)

    I like to place my bales in a row so that the narrow end of the bales face out. This allows a wider planting bed.

    Caution: be sure you source your materials from farms that DO NOT apply any herbicides to their crops/fields.
     
    deepbluesea and oregonkat like this.
  5. drewskimac

    drewskimac Songster

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    Well, you couldn't ask for a better reply than Lazy's, lol. So I have a question on that note - what is the benefit of straw bale gardening? Is is better for low-space situations, situations where you don't want to break the ground, or to cut down on weeds? I've always found it interesting but haven't really understood the purpose.
     
  6. Alaskan

    Alaskan The Frosted Flake

    one factor is the climate of where you live.... up here we have lots of places that have very cool summers. It is a bad idea if you don't get heat.
     
  7. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

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    It is a GOOD idea if you don't get much heat. B/C the prep process gives you a hot bed! Those plants really take off with the heat generated inside the bale.

    Hay bale gardening is great for:

    any place that has poor or non existent soil. You can even do a hay bale garden on a tarred driveway. People even do HB gardens on their decks by building a box to put the bale in. There would be a drainage hole in the bottom of the box, with a drain hose to detour water down and away from your deck.

    Want to build a new garden spot, but don't want to till the ground? Start with a hay bale garden. By the next season, the bale will be almost completely composted, and the soil under it will be loosened up and well fertilized. The worms will have worked the area very well the previous season.

    Want a raised bed? Do hay bale first, maybe even several successive seasons of hay bale gardens. Then put up your raised bed edging and convert to conventional gardening.

    Physical challenges? Can't or shouldn't get down on the ground? Hay bales are almost 18" tall. Not strong enough to work the soil or use a tiller? Hay bales do not require any of that.

    Want to "container garden" but can't spend the money on those huge pots, or all that potting soil? Hay bales are the perfect container. They are large, can be put together to cover a nice sized area, and they are cheap. If you find a good source of mulch hay (well on it's way to being conditioned for your gardening pleasure) it may even be free.

    Who shouldn't "hay bale" garden? Any one who has a pre-conceived notion about what a garden should look like, and is not willing to shift their paradigm. Any one who does not have a source of hay or straw that has not been treated with herbicides. Any one who lives in an arid climate, and has water restrictions.
     
  8. Farmer Connie

    Farmer Connie All My Friends Have Hoofs

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    My neighbor down the road let his pumpkins rot on his holiday Fall season decor. Once the rots seeped down into the straw, the straw rotted. Then pumpkin vines sprouted. But the winter freezer got the best of them of course.
     
  9. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

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    Hay bale vs. straw bale:

    Straw bale: Benefit: may not be as weedy. However, you will get grain seeds that sprout, even in straw that has been well threshed. Disadvantage: straw is a monoculture crop. Because of that, it will not have the wide variety of nutrients that a hay bale may have. Straw may have been sprayed with herbicides. It's common practice to hit a crop with Glyphosphate (Round UP) to force all the grains to mature at the same time. Other herbicides may be used. Straw is very expensive (depending on what part of the country you live in and time of year).

    Hay bale: Benefit: Price. Hay may be free. I can get mulch hay for $3.50/bale here. It is often comprised of many different plant species. That great variety of species means overall increase of nutrients compared to straw. It is less likely to be contaminated with herbicides. However, the wise gardener always finds out how the materials have been grown and harvested. Disadvantage: Some hay bales are quite weedy. However, the composting process kills many of the seeds in the middle of the bale. Those at the surface will be covered by your planting medium, if you do it that way. Either way, the plants that you grow in your hay bale will soon shade out any weeds. I have not found hay seed to be an issue.
     

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