Our New Straw Bale Garden–Part I

...raw bale gardening a promising solution. Bales and fertilizer are easier to carry up the stairs than bulk soil. It will be cheaper than buying soil. No lead and zinc. I was also inspired by this attractive straw bale garden in Arizona. It will be a garden that changes over time. I like the idea of watching the bales turn into compost and their gradual replacement with more permanent structures. I’m hoping that the view from the two Adiron...

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Straw Bale Garden Part III: Adding Fertilizer

After watering our straw bales for three days our next step is to apply a high nitrogen fertilizer. We’re following West Virginia University Extension Service’s Straw Bale Gardening advice. They suggest a 1/2 cup of urea per bale or “bone meal, fish meal, or compost for a more organic approach.” (I think they mean blood meal as bone meal does not have much nitrogen in it.) Choosing the organic approach...

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Straw Bale Garden Part IV: Almost Ready to Plant?

Over the past fifteen days I’ve been “conditioning” my straw bale garden by adding blood meal and a lot of water. During the conditioning process we had both a freak rainstorm (helpful) and a freak heatwave (not so good). The bales did not heat up as much as I expected–as of this morning they are around 80° F, around 15° to 20° higher than the ambient temperature. Several sources I checked, however, su...

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Straw Bale Garden Tour Part I

In this vide we take you into the backyard for a tour of our straw bale garden. We started rotting the bales in late April by adding blood meal. In May we added a balanced fertilizer and started planting the bales. In the video you’ll see the veggies we planted in early June. The soaker hose you see comes from Home Depot. I’m pretty sure it is this stuff. Every other week I add some fish emulsion to a watering can and hand water t...

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Smurfs Team Up With US Forest Service

...ono.” Of course, they do have a Smurf movie coming out this summer. The DiscoverTheForest website explains it all: As inhabitants of the forest, Smurfs are the perfect ambassadors for forest recreation. As these new PSAs remind us, the forest provides benefits such as clean air and fresh water, and provides children with the ability to explore, use their imaginations, discover new wildlife and engage in unstructured and adventurous play. Th...

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Radish Surprise

...n burst out into hundreds of tiny purple flowers. Hummingbirds, honey bees and all sorts of flying insects visit it all day, every day. It has become one of the queens of the garden. The picture below is horrible. The radish plant really is quite pretty,  the equal of any ornamental flowering shrub–but as bad is the picture is, it gives you some scale. See the bales of our straw bale garden behind it?  I think it must be pulling water from...

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How to Keep Squirrels and Birds From Eating Your Fruit

Photo by Noel Ramos. Got a tip from Noel Ramos a.k.a. Florida Green Man on how to deal with those pesky squirrels and birds in your fruit orchard. Noel says: I use those clear plastic fruit containers that are used for packing strawberries and grapes. I personally don’t buy fruit in these containers but I asked some neighbors and friends to save them for me and in a short time amassed a large collection. They snap shut o...

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My Favorite Lettuce Mix

...better than store bought. Plus, at least where we live, they are easy to grow. We just sow the seed directly and water them in. We thin by eating the seedlings. Judging from the crowding in the photo above, we need to eat some more salads soon. There’s never been pest problems save for the edible, and aggressive, fennel seedlings you can see amongst the lettuce (memo to self: cut down fennel before it goes to seed this year!)....

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A New and Improved Self Irrigating Pot System

A very cool improvement on the self irrigating pot (SIP) idea from Larry Hall of Minnesota. Rather than the two bucket system we’ve blogged about in the past (see a roundup of our SIP resources here), Hall uses one long rain gutter to supply water. He’s even got a clever double rain gutter system for growing strawberries that I’m tempted to try on our back patio. I spotted this video on Inside Urban Green always a good sourc...

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Steve Solomon’s Soil and Health e-Library

I’m really enjoying the incredible variety of obscure old books being scanned and put up on the interwebs. Of interest to readers of this blog will be the archive of free e-books maintained by gardening author Steve Solomon. His Soil and Health e-library contains books on “holistic agriculture, holistic health and self-sufficient homestead living” You can download the books for free, but Solomon requests a modest $13 donation....

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