Holly and I are going to try a straw bale garden this year. Neither of us have done this before, but we’ve been wanting a garden for a few years. Since we’re currently renting, we don’t want to put time and money into the ground. We’ve tried container gardens in the past, but unfortunately we have moved during the summer the last two times, trying to take the containers with us and resulting in many failed crops.
The idea is to create fertilized straw bales that you plant your garden directly into, so the ground underneath does not matter at all – in fact, you can put your bales on pavement if you really want to. So, we bought about a dozen bales last fall around Hallowe’en when they were easy to come by afford-ably, and left them in our backyard. They also came in handy to help insulate the house during the winter.
Since it is finally warm out and looks like it will stay that way, I started preparing the bales. I suppose I should have really done that a few weeks ago so we could start planting now, but I think it will be ok. You’re supposed to fertilize them every-other-day for about 10 days, and water them every day. I bought some “cheap” lawn fertilizer with about 30% Nitrogen and put 2c on each bale, then watered it until all the little pellets went down into the bales. I’m planning on taking the temperature inside the bales every day at the same time and graphing it – should see a spike and then level off, then it should be ready for planting.
We are planning on planting potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, onions, garlic, dill, oregano, peppers, and a few other herbs (it’s all written down on a paper I don’t have in front of me.) I read that you can actually plant potatoes deep down in the bales and then plant other things on top, so that should work out well. Then you can either harvest new potatoes or wait until the other plants are done, kick the bales apart, and just pick up the full-sized potatoes in the fall.