Straw Bale Gardening

nbacres(4 NW IA)June 23, 2009

This year I'm trying something new (yes, my DH reclaimed the corner of the corn field so I needed to be creative with my garden space). Back in the "old days", planting a garden in straw bales was common SO, with the help of DH, we purchased 10 bales and took them thru the conditioning stage of 10 days and have the tomatoes, peppers and gourd plants looking pretty good. I have discovered they (the bales) need watered at least every other day so I put a soaker hose the length of the bale run - makes the chore very easy!

Anyone else ever tried the bale gardening?

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I can't say that I have. Is there any benefit over in ground gardening? Or is just to act as a cheaper container for container gardening?

    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 1:53PM
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nbacres(4 NW IA)

According to what I've read (remember, this is my first year of trying this) 1) it eliminates the need to stake the tomatoes, they will grow across and down the bales; 2) it eliminates the weeding; 3) it cuts down on rot and disease since the tomatoes aren't laying on the ground and hidden from circulating air; 4) less stress (on us 50+ aged gardeners) since there's less bending and "knee" work and 5) takes up a lot less space and I can mow between the row of bales. So far the only disadvantage I can tell is that I need to water them every-other day - but I'd need to do that anyways if they were in containers. The soaker hose works GREAT and I just need to remember to turn it on!! I'll post pics (once I figure the posting out..) Any suggestions you're thinking of?? I'd love to hear them.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 2:31PM
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nbacres(4 NW IA)

Here's the setup we have for the 10 bales. Tomatoes, Peppers and, where no protection is, are watermellons. Note the soaker hose running the length.

Can't wait to hear of others with this gardening experience :)!

Here is a link that might be useful: NB Acres Straw Bale Gardening with Dexter's Help

    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 4:14PM
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sfallen2002(z5 IA)

Where are you getting your straw? I found myself deciding last season I would not pay more thab 8.oo/bale.

I could probably use 10/season just for mulch!

Located near IC

    Bookmark   June 28, 2009 at 7:07AM
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nbacres(4 NW IA)

sfallen2002: Oh my, I doubt we would have started this bale gardening if we had to pay $8.00 per bale!!!!

Most farmers here in NW Iowa will sell them for around $2.50/bale. They say the bales should hold up for two summers and then can be used for mulch after that.

I have found that, since the temps have been in the hi 80's and 90's, I've begun to turn the soaker hose on every day, late afternoon. They're still growing and almost look like they're starting to catch up (in height) with the ground planted ones.

Good luck with checking the farm ads in the newspaper - you'll hit the jackpot - us Iowa gardeners always do (sooner or later!).

Happy gardening & ponding!!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 9:56AM
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Great idea. I might just try this. Do you think it would attach critters under the bales....snakes in particular. I would freak out on that.

BTW, another item we get to see on the tour in August right ??!! LOL !!


    Bookmark   June 30, 2009 at 2:43PM
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