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Winter gardening in straw bale beds

Posted by mensplace 7 (My Page) on
Wed, Nov 25, 09 at 21:08

After arranging several straw bale with two on each side and one in between each end, I then put a foot deep layer of composted manure on the bottom. I was really amazed to see just haw quickly all of my winter vegetables such as onion seed, lettuces, carrots, radishes, leek seed, and many other hardier varieties had already begun very nice sprouts. Today, I covered them all with sheets of heavy plastic , held in place with a rope around the plastic that draped down to the sides...both holding down the plastic and holding the bales firmly together. Outside I planted may brassicas that I will cover with manure by Friday. Meanwhile, I have many ground level beds of potatoes of every desrcription, onion plants, and onion and shallot bulb sets covered with a foot of hay and a covering of manure and compost. Friday nights low will hit about 29 in Cartersville, so this will be a real test of both methods. My thought, if this works, is to use the same bale system to build hotbeds of a deep layer af fresh manure and compost covered by a six inch layer of hay and then laying the seedtrays on top prior to covering with plastic. Should be interesting.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Winter gardening in straw bale beds

Don't forget that during the day, your covered bails can get up to 20 degrees or more warmer inside than it is outside... Venting a bit helps during the warmest part of the day so you don't fry your babies!!!

RE: Winter gardening in straw bale beds

I agree and think that you are absolutely correct, especially in the spring and summer. The plastic tied in place is something of a stop-gap approach for the time being to get me through the cold days and nights, but I will probably have to make some small holes anyway to handle the rain next week. Eventually, I will be building more of a permanent solution with proper cold-frame and hot bed covers that can be fixed in an open position. What is most frustrating here is that I can't even find compostable materials. Groceries no longer give away the scraps and the city/county now uses private contractors who vacuum the leaves and then take them to the dump. I have talked to the city and county solid waste managers..NO LUCK. I talked to the County agent..NO LUCK. Even sent a note to Tommy Irvin, our Ag Commissioner...NO luck or interest. The hay bales at 4:25 and the per bag composted manure is getting mighty expensive. Funny, that with a city, county and state that gets so much mileage on their websites re recycling...absolutely NO interest or support. The hay bale approach from Lowes is just step one! Trouble is, I can't shovel the maure at the auction barn due to my Forestier's Disease. It's bad enough to rake it from the back of my truck as I did when I drove 30 mile to buy some "compost". You would think that with all of the chicken house, beef operations, and other organics producers there would be something available in GA. SO, for now I have the hay bales until I can come up with a longer term solution and more permanent design. Hear me Georgia ...I need organic materials to compost! When I can finally develop enough compost, then I will transition to more permanent cold frames, raised beds, and covering the whole garden with compost.

RE: Winter gardening in straw bale beds

There are ways to get compost, but it of course takes time. Can you get your own leaves raked into a pile? As at the local independant coffee shop for coffee grounds. I take my own lidded bucket which has my name and telephone on it. They call me when it's full (usually same day) and I can run and grab it.
I think the biggest problem for eateries is teaching staff to recycle and what is compostable. They would be a great source of composting material if you could get people to throw the right thing into the right container... We compost all our own household green waste and that makes quite a bit. I chop every perennial at the end of season and in it goes. It's work. The problem comes if you are not able to do these things - then yes, you have to buckle up and buy it all. If you have a a truck, there are several places to get good soil from Luxury Landscapes is one. They also deliver and outside the city it is much less expensive for delivery.

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