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Straw bale gardening


I’ve decided to try straw bale gardening this year. Though my raised beds, filled with compost, have been pretty productive for the past couple of seasons, straw bale gardening seems even less expensive and less hassle. The idea is, you first prepare the bales for 10 or 12 days by keeping them soaked with water and adding fertilizer. Then you slip baby plants (not seeds) into the bales.

Though someday I’d love to have a thriving all-organic garden, that will be easier after I’ve had some years to work on the soil. The bales, as they decay into the soil, can’t help but help.

If you Google for straw bale gardening, I think you’ll find that the process has been university tested and is university blessed. Here’s a good starting article. Don’t be tempted to buy instructions. There are plenty of free sources of instructions on the web.

Ammonium nitrate, which is what you’ll find in 34-0-0 or 32-0-0 fertilizer, is powerful stuff. It may be a little harder to find than ordinary 10-10-10 fertilizer.



  1. Quetal wrote:

    Thanks David,

    I’ll forward this info to my daughter who’s having a terrible time with gophers… maybe they won’t burrow into the bales


    Wednesday, April 14, 2010 at 5:28 pm | Permalink
  2. mountain madness wrote:

    I can’t wait to try this… I never heard of it but I’m going to try it this year!!

    Thursday, April 15, 2010 at 5:21 pm | Permalink
  3. mountain madness wrote:

    OK… I have got the 3 boys ready to make a trip this weekend to the local Ag feed store and load up on the bales and then off to the nursery for the fertilizer and plants. I’ll have to send you some pictures of my progress or lack of progress… which ever my efforts bring me… Thanks for another great idea!!!

    Friday, April 16, 2010 at 12:09 pm | Permalink
  4. admin wrote:

    How lucky you are to have three teen-agers to help you!

    Friday, April 16, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Permalink
  5. mountain madness wrote:

    I know… but they come at a price!!!! LOL Do you think I should remove the grass or just place the bales right on top of the grass? I don’t care about the grass’s demise however I don’t want to have any grass growing up through the bales either…. I like the idea of planting some flowers into the sides of the bales to brighten it up and create more color to enjoy while the veggies grow.

    Friday, April 16, 2010 at 5:18 pm | Permalink
  6. admin wrote:

    I think it would be fine to put the bales on the grass. I doubt that the grass will grow into the bales. The grass will just turn into weeds around the bales that you’ll have to get those teen-agers to cut…

    Saturday, April 17, 2010 at 5:34 am | Permalink
  7. mountain madness wrote:

    I bought them a weed wacker this weekend!! LOL I also went to the feed store to purchase my bales of wheat straw. They were out of stock and getting more in today. I’ll hit the feed store on my way home from work. Kinda funny walking into the feed store in a suit and 3 inch heels to buy straw… At least on Saturday I was wearing my overalls and gardening shoes… $12.95/bale for wheat. What is your price per bale? Did you use wheat? My good friend in Asheville gave me another idea to try while I’m being adventurous with my gardening skills. He said to take 5 gallon buckets drill 5 dime size holes around the bottom of the buckets (not in the bottom but sides near the bottom) fill the bucket with saw dust or wood shavings and plant your tomatoe plants in that and I’ll have the sweetest tomatoes ever. I’m going to try that method as well and see what I get… Hopefully I’ll be doing lots of canning this summer!! My mother thinks I have jumped off the deep end!!!

    Monday, April 19, 2010 at 9:24 am | Permalink

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