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Strawbale gardening

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DH and I sat through a seminar in Chicago by the author of strawbale gardening. He's a farm boy with a degree in horticulture. His book sales are right behind Square Foot gardening. That got my attention. :wink (2):


I was talking to a friend in sunday school class about bales of straw. He said he had some from all the winter decorations at Essenhaus restaurant & resort (caters to tourists who like to watch the Amish in our area). :thumbs:


We stopped by the resort today and received 10 bales of old straw for FREE! Thankfully they were held together with plastic twine otherwise they would have come apart. The biggest problem was to raise the soggy bales over the trailer sides and into the bed. DH did much better with his half of the bales. :0327:


Now I have a trailer full of soggy straw and have to come up with a plan for my 2014 garden experiment. :engel-smilies-10-1:



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I have read something about this before. I have even thought about trying it, but I have no access to free hay. Now next winter I was thinking of getting hay bales to put around my trailer to insulate from the wind. If I do that, I will then be able to use them to try this next year.

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I did a LOT of research on this a couple years ago. Hay is fine and even out-performed straw in some ways. Weeds may or may not be a problem. Hay would be preferred here due to holding the moisture better. However...in the middle of our drastic, dratted, drought in our arid land...this method can't work. You absolutely cannot keep the bales moist enough here to decompose. I've had a couple bales sitting out for ....three years now. Targets for archery. They are still in bale shape..saggy, but still there.


With our experiment 2 yrs ago, we had both hay and straw. Best I got was volunteer wheat from the straw bales..... a year later. That was after Koa had pretty much torn all the bales apart...having taken over the 10X20' kennel we used to keep the deer off of the bale-garden the previous summer. I know in most places, getting the bales to decompose simply is not a problem. The heat generated really had me intrigued, since we're so cool up here...even nights thru the whole summer.


I figured if we could try it again [but we also started with donated straw bales and a few moldy hay bales] I'd wrap the bale in plastic to save moisture. And maybe tent over them with plastic to save moisture in a tent! :shrug:


MtRider :lois:

Edited by Mt_Rider
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Because I'm still on crutches, we're experimenting with this method. We have seven bales put together as 2 squares with hollow interiors. We've filled the interiors with a compost/soil mix and are currently growing potatoes in them. So far the exterior of the frame (the bales themselves) are playing host to Broad Beans, Runner Beans, Peas & Garlic (all growing together at the far end of the project. This is with a trellis to support the plants. Cauliflower plants grow down one side and strawberry plants are in the middle (out of our dogs reach :) ) in the middle of this week the second half should be conditioned enough for peppers, raddish, lettuce and onions. So far all plants seem to be thriving in this environment.

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