Ladies and gentleman, straw bale gardening works. I left town for a week earlier this month and, during my absence, the vegetables in the straw bale garden exploded in size. The Tromboncino squash on the left, is threatening to envelop the entire yard. The tomatoes are equally vigorous and covered in ripening fruit.
While it takes an input of outside resources in the form of straw and fertilizer, straw bale gardening is a great solution for beginning gardeners or for those cursed with bad soil. And the skunks that have decimated my previous vegetable gardens are unable to get up on the bales.
I’m considering trying another straw bale garden during our winter season. And I’m also pondering building boxes to put the bales in to make the garden look a bit neater.
Compare the straw bale garden to the depleted raised beds in our front yard:
I’ve talked to a lot of people about straw bale gardens since we started ours. Some things I’ve heard from other gardeners:
- Some straw bales may be contaminated with herbicides. Do a bioassay before planting. Here’s some instructions (scroll down to the end of the article).
- One gardener I met did not know that the bales need to be prepared by adding nitrogen–you can’t just plant straight in the bales.
- Once the bales have been prepared you need to add fertilizer periodically. I’ve been adding fish emulsion every two weeks.
How is your straw bale garden?
And thanks again to Michael Tortorello whose article “Grasping at Straw” inspired us to try straw bale gardening.