If you’re an urban gardener, you may have thought of straw bale gardening. If you are hoping to find enough space to grow even a tomato plant or two, “building” a garden with straw bales creates a whole new range of possibilities.
For those with limited space, poor soil, or only one spot on your property that gets the proper sun exposure to grow food, it could be a great solution.
The bales (like most above-ground gardening techniques) will need extra water and fertilizer during the early period. However, those early water needs will decrease as the bale decomposes. Later, it will be able to hold MUCH more water.
Check to make sure any straw bales you purchase have not been sprayed while in the growing stage or they will contain harmful chemicals that will be transferred to your food
Earthworms also known as nightcrawlers are attracted to the damp straw that shelters them during hot weather. Their casting help bales to decompose and improve the soil bed as the bales compost.
You can find out more of the details here. This is one of the better posts on the topic because they recommend use of bone meal, fish meal, or compost for a more organic approach. (Others recommend urea (horse or cow urine often contaminated with antibiotics and hormones) or other harsh chemical to condition your bales, but do not use it).
The post discusses:
- Straw Bale Selection
- Curing the Bale including Soaking and Fertilizer
- Watering and more
Straw Bale In Photos:
Cabbages, basil, and flowers~ tuck the flower starts right into the side of the bale and water.
Other vegetables to grow in summer straw-bale beds include:
- green beans
- mustard greens
- spring peas
in winter grow:
(Note: you can see the orange polyester binding cord above if you look closely)
One Other Way To Use Straw:
Last year we used wheat straw effectively for growing heirloom French Charentais melons. The straw (heavily laid down under and around the plants) helped keep the plants clean and from exposure to squash bugs.
Same with straw under raspberries. We found a heavy (6″) layer of straw under our Heritage red raspberries keeps out weeds, and it breaks down to wonderful compost, holds water in the soil, and increases soil nutrition!
Even if you have space limitations and want to garden on a smaller footprint than most, you can save a decent amount of grocery money by growing your own food — more than $1,200 if you plant tomatoes, potatoes, zucchini, salad greens or strawberries, according to the analysis of one Maine gardener.
So why don’t you give straw bale gardening a try on the small scale and see if you don’t love being able to grow your own fresh vine-ripened tomatoes!