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How to plant a strawbale garden

Posted by strawbaleman North Carolina (My Page) on
Sun, Mar 19, 06 at 17:05

I'm new to this forum, but thought I'd post some info on using wheat or oat straw bales in which to grow vegetables. I noticed there was some talk on this forum about 2 years ago.

I grew a 2nd garden using 20 wheat straw and 10 oat straw bales last year. I planted tomatoes, peppers, cukes, squash and zucchini. It did great. I'm going to do 50 bales this year.

You can see a story on this method at www.carolinacountry.com. Carolina Country is a magazine that is mailed to members of Wake Electric Co-Op. They did a feature story on my garden. See their current (March) edition and go to the Features section and you can pull up the story with instructions. Or, you can email me at kent.rogers@earthlink.net and I'll send it to you.

This method is great for those with bad or compacted soil and for those who physically can't work a traditional garden with all the hoeing, weeding, back bending, etc. Even a wheel-chair bound individual can do this.

Now, the recipe I used from a compilation of several internet articles about straw bales uses some ammonium nitrate in the 10-day preparation of the bales.

Ammonium Nitrate (34-0-0) just acts as a catalyst or vitamins for the microbes that help break the bales down to be a good host for the plants.

Since my garden of last year, Ammonium Nitrate has been regulated under Homeland Security issues but this is no problem. The seller will ask for your name and address or phone number. It sells in 50 lb. bags so if you're only doing a few bales, you may want to just pass on buying it. Just add about a week or so to weathering your bales.

Just thought I'd throw this out for those who may want to try this method of gardening. I didn't invent this method, but I'm sure a proponent of it.

Regards,
Kent Rogers (kent.rogers@earthlink.net)
Deputy Sheriff
Wake County, NC


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: How to plant a strawbale garden

hi
thank you . some friends and I are exploring this and one of them wants to go full steam ahead to get one these started
and yes the mention of ammonium nitrate in these parts would get an investigation going so I was wondering if using blood meal or some other migh nitrogen meal or chicken poop type stuff would work real well .
and although I have used the bale method before I did not know some of the things from that website and let the bales dry up .
there is not a lot talk of watering and I use soaker hose a lot a long stretch of hose on top??
also I think I can add a new touch to your beds by incorperating water crstals into the bale I actually use diapers when you hollow the space for the fill just allow enough room for a watersoaked diaper in the bottom they hold about a qt. of water and you pre soak and even can pre soak with a mild fertilizer solution to say add pottasium or other things that needed later in the life cycle .
I also use a lot bannana peels on my roses and think this would be agood addition for tomatoes and if done in balance at the right time would increase blossom and tomato production . just some thoughts .
the folks that are against this though are saying this only lends itself to more weeds ?? and on that note would,nt you think this was ideal use for corn gluten ??
while you were going through the "waiting period" just using this product also I would think would save the probs. of seed sprouting later???
I also like the idea that by running your row of bales down a fence or clothes line or a cpl of tight wires it is perfect for tomatoe cage or cuke vines .
just some thoughts and thank you very much .
a green thumb up to you Rick in wichita


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RE: How to plant a strawbale garden

Rick, thanks so much for sending me this link! I too am interested in hearing more on this method from someone who has real experiance in it.

Thank you so much, Kent..for posting this! I know Rick and I are both looking forward to any more tips you could share with us. :o)

....Liz


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RE: How to plant a strawbale garden

Rick and Liz, good morning.

Working night shift this week and I'm just getting going good.

Just FYI: I'm participating on another garden site (www.davesgarden.com) and there is a great discussion going on there about straw bale gardening, if you're interested. This particular site is probably going to be the one I spend most of my time due to time constraints.

So, feel free to email me at kent.rogers@eartlink.net if I end up neglecting this site.

I essentially posted the text of the Carolina Country article I mentioned here to get the forum started and it has really taken off. Lot's of good ideas, especially from the organic-side crowd.

Lots of PHOTOS, too. (Not sure how to put pics here. Mine on my computer don't have a URL link.)

If no ammonium nitrate, then just let your bales weather longer, say at least 2 - 3 weeks. The nitrate just speeds things up. Check the bales as you're watering them and they'll heat up initially and then cool back down. Wait until the "cooking" is done before transplanting. Then fertilize as needed based on your experience, discretion, etc.

The main thing is to keep those bales watered; twice a day preferrably. It's not a big job.

There's NO weeds in bales, usually. The bales will sprout some wheat or oat grass but that's no problem. I just give my bales a "haircut" with a steak knife. Takes no time.

The banana peels and diapers in the bale idea is interesting.

Cow and chicken manure is about the only organic fertilizer I was raised up using. My daddy was a big user of 10-10-10!

Have a blessed day,
Kent


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RE: How to plant a strawbale garden

Thanks Kent! I will look for more info there also. As I see it so far, my biggest problem is readilly available straw. Around here we don't grow grain crops, so I imagine straw will have to be gotten from nursery's bringing it in for fall decorating projects. Course that's kind of late for this year, so I may have to use hay bales instead. Any thoughts on this?

Thanks,
Liz


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RE: How to plant a strawbale garden

Liz, from what I've read and heard so far, any sort of organic bale will work. Some may do better than others. I only have experience with wheat/oat straw. Bales like hay and alfalfa may take longer to "cook", i.e., the initial decomposition process may take longer (or shorter); just make sure the "heat" from the initial prep stage has dissipated; that's your clue that the bales are ready for taking on any transplanted material or ready for seed if you go that route


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RE: How to plant a strawbale garden

hi
yes one of those articles make mention of using blood meal
as a starter. Rick


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RE: How to plant a strawbale garden

It's been a long time since I posted on this site. I spend most of my time at www.davesgarden.com.

But here's a link to alot of strawbale garden photos, mostly from my own bale garden.

Kent

Here is a link that might be useful: Strawbale Garden photos/info


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RE: How to plant a strawbale garden

Anyone ever tried strawberries in a straw bale garden? If so, did the fertilizer (Ammonia Nitrate and 10-10-10) combination work well or should something else be used?


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RE: How to plant a strawbale garden

I live in zone 3 in Manitoba, Canada. Will this work up here. Tomatoes,cucs etc all grow well here. Thx Barb


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RE: How to plant a strawbale garden

Anyone interested in straw bale gardening should give it a try. I have tried traditional gardens with little success and almost gave up (gasp!) on gardening until I tried the straw bale gardening technique and lasagna style gardening this year..with great success; I am hooked, obsessed, thrilled...with the results!!! you might want to check this site out for great pics and ideas & instructions for straw bale gardening and lasagna gardening

Here is a link that might be useful: http://ChewyChewsup.blogspot.com/


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RE: How to plant a strawbale garden

your all welcome to see our presentation of how we did our bale garden, we used whatever bales of whatever material we could source economically, so it doesn't need to be straw as such.

len

Here is a link that might be useful: lens straw bale garden


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RE: How to plant a strawbale garden

I GET ALL MY STRAW BALES FROM A LOCAL CATTLEMAN. HE DELIVERS RIGHT WHERE I NEED THEM FOR $2 A BALE. I USE STRAW FOR MY DOG PENS, TO INSULATE THEIR HOUSE IN THE WINTER, FOR GARDENING, AT THE END OF THE SLIP AND SLIDE. AND ANYTHING ELSE I CAN IMAGINE. ALWAYS TRY TO USE YOUR LOCAL FARMERS FOR ITEMS. MY BALE GARDENING WILL BE USED AS A "POT" WITH 4 SIDES EACH IN A LARGE SQUARE WITH 4 WALKWAYS. THEN FILLED WITH THIS WONDERFUL BLACK SOIL WE HAVE HERE IN INDIANA. I AM FROM NC AND USE TO SANDY SOIL BUT QUICKLY TOOK ADVANTAGE OF WHAT IS AROUND ME.


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