Strawbale gardening a revelation! - long post

Sarevan

Songster
6 Years
Sep 30, 2013
448
49
103
White Swan, WA
We have 200+ bales that have been around for about 10 years that have been kept relatively dry, haven't broken apart and mold free. I used some of the good bales around the coop and run for insulation in this past horrid winter. I put flakes in the run and coop to give them something to tear apart. A month ago I cleaned out the run down to the dirt, it had built up to about 8" since January! Anyway.... I was out watching the chickens sitting on a strawbale and realized I was sitting on my answer for my gardening problem. :yesss:

We are high desert area, alkaline ground, (in places can see the salts leaching out of the ground), hard compact soil difficult to work. Irrigation only way to keep things green during the hot summer. Lawn is near impossible to grow, weeds however have no problems. :rant

So I am using the bales to plant my garden. I soak them so they are nice and wet, (place the bales where you want them as they get extremely heavy from the water) added a layer of the stuff taken out of the run mixed with planting soil and our dirt. Used a trowel to make a hole in the straw for planting the started plants. So far I have strawberry, peppers, and broccoli planted that are doing pretty darn good. :yiipchick

This week I am going to arrange some more bales, and plant seeds. I will hopefully have cantaloupe, watermelon, herbs, squash and some flowers. Researching around the internet there is amazing information and varied results of gardening with the bales. The bales may be able to survive for a second year in bale form to allow planting in them again before it spreads out becoming soil. The chicken manure should be perfect fertilizer and will help with composting the bales down to make a perfect garden plot eventually. I can't believe it has taken me so long to realize I had the solution in front of me for so long. Better than the container way I had been trying previously.

What I like about the bales so far, they are raised so easier on my back. Even though the initial setup getting them moved and placed is a good workout. It is nearly weed free, the weeds I do have are from the soil I mixed to layer on top. :rolleyes: They are easy to water, just soak the bale. Can be arranged in any form you want, even in terrace layers. Can add a trellis or stakes to support the taller plants. Making good garden soil naturally. Toss the weeds I do have to the chickens for greens, they love it. Any extra or damaged veggies will be treats for the girls. The bales can be placed on any surface, uneven, rocky, cement, incline. Just don't place in area of standing water, could soak up the water and be too much to drown plants. You can wrap the bale with plastic sheeting to warm the base to accelerate the decomposition or warm your plants. Any fertilizer you do add you know is going to your plants, and being retained by the bale to release to the plants. So far I haven't run into any strong negative reasons that make this a bad idea. I'll hopefully have a decent garden the first time in ages this year! Awesome way to save money on what is just sitting around and can provide healthy food for family and flock. :celebrate

Any thoughts or other ideas would be appreciated. :frow
 

Sarevan

Songster
6 Years
Sep 30, 2013
448
49
103
White Swan, WA

earlyredrooster

Songster
5 Years
Apr 19, 2014
448
61
128
Harrisburg, Ar
We are trying something similar, stuffing pine needles and other organic materials into our old tomato cages and planting our potatoes in that. Stuff about 2-6 inches into the bottom of cage put potatoes in then cover with about 2 inches of material mixed with chicken poop and drench with water. Then (theoretically) you just add more material around plants as they grow.
 

Gayleyy

Songster
5 Years
Apr 24, 2014
303
15
106
Kentucky
We are going to try growing our potatoes in straw this year. I hope it works! I was worried about mold, but we will try it out and see what happens! How long do you have to let the chicken poo sit before you can use it???
 

Sarevan

Songster
6 Years
Sep 30, 2013
448
49
103
White Swan, WA
Hmm, and here I thought strawbales were just something we planned to build our house with!

Down the road from us is a house made from strawbales, 2 story really nice thick walls. Outside covered with stucco. He says it is very cool in summer and warm in the winter. If I didn't see them building it from strawbales last summer you would never know! Bales are supposed to be +40 insulation value. As long as bales kept dry they are good for home building. This website RedFeather builds strawbale homes on Indian reservations. https://www.redfeather.org
 
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