What is Straw Bale Gardening?
Straw Bale Gardening is a simply a different type of container gardening. The main difference is that the container is actually the straw bale itself, held together with two or three strings, the outside crust of the bale serves as the container. Once the straw inside the bale begins to decompose, the straw becomes “conditioned” and ready to plant. The step by step process of conditioning creates an extraordinarily productive, warm, moist and nutrient rich rooting environment for young seedlings.
Getting the straw bales conditioned is an essential part of the process, and should be started approximately two weeks prior to the target planting date in your area. This planting date varies greatly depending on where you are in the world but this gardening technique works anywhere in the world for seasonal spring/summer or for winter gardens.
Why Straw Bale Gardening?
Growing a successful vegetable garden is difficult enough if you have terrific soil to plant your garden into, but with poor soils it can be virtually impossible. Straw Bale Gardening allows anyone, even those with the worst soil conditions, to grow a terrific garden that is productive and much less labor intensive. For anyone with difficulties bending over or doing the heavy work that is usually involved in turning the soil and digging to plant and harvest crops, the raised height of the Straw Bale Garden makes those chores obsolete. Harvesting potatoes means simply knocking over the bale at the end of the season and picking them up, no digging required. Weeding will also become a thing of the past, there are no weeds in a Straw Bale Garden. Stop spending money buying containers, building raised beds, and buying special planting mixes. Minimal maintenance resulting in maximum production, through Straw Bale Gardening. It will completely change everything you thought you already knew about gardening. Try this method and I assure you that soon you will understand why this is the perfect way to grow a vegetable garden.
Can I do this where I live?
The short answer here is absolutely yes. This method of gardening works very well from areas inside the Arctic Circle, to the heat of the Caribbean. If you can find bales of straw, or similar bales of tightly compressed organic material, you can garden this way. Simply replacing existing soil with a “container” filled with beautiful “conditioned” compost as your growing media. From airid desert regions to the rainiest places in the world, if you have access to sunlight and water then this method of growing will work. No special tools are required, and no knowledge of gardening is really required to be successful. The elimination of many of the most common problems associated with vegetable gardening, makes this method great for beginning gardeners, organic growers, or those experienced gardeners that are just tired of all the hard work.
How to plan, design and put into action high-yield survival garden that will literally keep you and your family fed for life, no matter what hits you, even when everyone else around you is starving to death. No digging and planting year after year and no daily watering because you’ll have more important things to worry .
How to set up highly nutritious soil for your plants. Do this before you plant anything and you’re on your way to setting your food forest on auto-pilot for decades to come. I’m gonna tell you this one “weird” thing to add to the mulch that’s not only highly effective but also 100% free (because you already have it in your home right now).
Step-by-step instructions on how to plant over 125 plants inside your permaculture garden. Plus, special instructions on choosing the right ones for your climate. From Arizona to Alaska, you can do this anywhere…
How to “marry” your plants. We’re gonna tell you which grow well together and help each-other survive and thrive, so they don’t ever compete for sunlight and nutrients. You get the full table of plants that work well with one another as well as the ones you should NEVER be put together.
Who should plant a Straw Bale Garden?
- Can’t do heavy lifting? If you are less capable or less interested in doing the heavy work of traditional gardening, such as tilling the soil, constant weeding, unending insect battles and persistent disease spraying, Straw Bale Gardening virtually eliminates these challenges.
- Can’t bend over? If you have a physical limitation or handicap that restricts you from getting down on the ground, you will appreciate the easier access to the higher surface of a straw bale, which eliminates the bending to plant and harvest.
- Poor soil or limited space? If your have a low soil quality, or if you have limited space that you can devote to a garden, you will love Straw Bale Gardening with its low cost, flexibility in garden placement, and great performance of the straw once it’s properly conditioned.
- Interested in broadening your gardening horizons? If you are a seasoned gardener looking for a fun new method, you will be amazed at the results!
Using many of the tips and tricks Joel offers in his classes and the written material he offers as a guide to new straw bale gardeners, you are guaranteed to be successful with your first straw bale garden experience.
How can I learn more?
Joel started teaching “Straw Bale Gardening” as a community education class in the spring of 2008, and has become a popular instructor for many School Districts around the country, teaching this new style of gardening in a classroom settings at garden shows and seminars. See the STORE tab to purchase the book.
Hay bale gardening is probably the most fun you’ll have growing your own food and herbs, requiring almost no work or maintenance.
After a search online to find the simplest and easiest “no work” gardening method, I stumbled upon straw bale gardening.
The concept is simple: You plant directly into bales of straw, and as the season progresses, the straw is broken down into virgin soil that nourishes the plants from inside the bale.
One amazing benefit of this method of gardening is that the bales provide a raised bed, which keeps predators away and makes picking your vegetal treasures at the end of the season easy on the back. I watched every video I could find on the subject, and have since concluded that using HAY bales instead of STRAW bales is far superior.
Why Hay Bales are Superior to Straw Bales?
Before we get into why hay bales are superior to straw bales, let’s first define what they are:
Straw bales are basically stalks of plants, usually corn, that have been dried out and baled together into various shapes and sizes.
Hay bales are grasses that have been dried and baled together.
In my research, the idea that hay bales may have seeds in them and could grow weeds is the same reasoning reiterated time and time again by proponents of straw bale gardening. The reason why this idea holds little water is that when nitrogen is added to feed the bacteria and fungi to start the decomposition process of the bale, a process called “Conditioning your bale”, the interior of the bale can reach temperatures as high as 130 degrees Fahrenheit or more.
The likelihood of seeds surviving these extreme temperatures is slim, and a number of other benefits that come from using hay bales make it a far superior approach in my opinion.
-Straw is likely made from genetically modified plant matter – The problem with straw bales is that they will usually be made of genetically modified corn or soy. Do you really want your food growing in decomposing genetically modified plant matter?
-No fertilizer needed with hay – Hay is made of dried grasses, and for its ability to convert sunlight and soil minerals into dense nutrition, it has been said that grass is the healthiest plant on the planet. When we use hay bales for gardening (as opposed to straw bales), the compost that is formed within the bale to feed the plants is far superior in nutrition and, unlike straw bales, no fertilizer needs to be added to feed your plants throughout the season.
-Less Watering – Straw holds water less effectively than hay, so instead of watering once per day with hay bales, you might have to do it 2 or 3 times per day.I like your concept
How to Grow a Hay Bale Garden
The first step to growing a hay bale garden is to acquire your hay bales. Take a look on your local classifieds like Kijiji or Craigslist and find a local farmer who is selling them. Once you find a nearby farmer with 40lb hay bales for sale, email them and arrange a time to pick them up or have them delivered to you.
Once you have the bales and have arranged them in your yard, the next step is to “condition” your bales. Buy yourself some 42-0-0 fertilizer, or some urea (nitrogen), and from here you will be introducing nitrogen into the bales over a 10-day period that will have the fungi, bacteria and insects breaking down your bales into fresh, virgin compost to feed your plants. You can also pee on your bales, as it is high in nitrogen and minerals, so start saving up pee in bottles for a fertilizer cost savings of about $40.
Days 1,3,5,7,9 – Add 1/2 cup of nitrogen to your bales and spray them with water so the nitrogen will soak in.
Days 2,4,6,8,10 – Soak the bale with water only.
During the conditioning process, the temperature of the bale will rise significantly, from my research, up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. In fact, the bales will become so hot that it’s important to keep the bales wet to eliminate the risk of a fire.
Although risk of fire is minimal, keep this in mind when deciding where to stage your bales. When the conditioning process is complete, you’ll know it because the temperature inside the bale will have come back down from hot to warm. Now you’re ready to plant!
Simply plant your vegetable seeds or germinated seeds into the bale, water them once a day and you’re on your way to healthy produce in a few exciting months. The best part is, at the end of the season you’ll have yourself a heap of fresh compost that you can further compost or add to your other gardens or perennial plant beds for nourishment.
And click on the banner below to find out how our ancestors survived crisis and to learn their tricks!
Old Time Wisdom ( Timeless Bits of Wisdom on How to Grow Everything Organically, from the Good Old Days When Everyone Did you can prepare yourself for war by moving to the countryside and building a farm, but you must take guns with you, as the hordes of starving will be roaming. Also, even though the elite will have their safe havens and specialist shelters, they must be just as careful during the war as the ordinary civilians, because their shelters can still be compromised.”)
The Lost Ways (Learn the long forgotten secrets that helped our forefathers survive famines,wars,economic crisis and anything else life threw at them)
LOST WAYS 2 ( Word of the day: Prepare! And do it the old fashion way, like our fore-fathers did it and succeed long before us, because what lies ahead of us will require all the help we can get. Watch this video and learn the 3 skills that ensured our ancestors survival in hard times of famine and war.)