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Straw bale gardening

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1 Straw bale gardening on Sun Jan 12, 2014 11:17 pm

uno

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Who is reading this book?

My mom loaned me her copy. THe basic premise is that you get straw bales, condition them in a 10 day routine of applying water and fertilizer to accelerate composting, then plant in them. The bonus is supposed to be no weeds and no soil bourn diseases. Heat from microbial action jump starts your plant growth. All you need is straw bales, water and sun.

Sun? Count me out, I live and garden (cough) in a forest. No sun.

I suppose if soil and a permanent garden were not possible this might be a viable temporary alternative. But for all the prep, 10 days to 2 weeks of it before planting, it is still a one use garden. At end of year the bales are finished, composted to mush. You have to scrape them up and haul them away. You start over from scratch the next year.

I think this would also not be cheap. You have to buy bales, bags of fertilizer (not manure) and soil-less potting mix to spread on top for seeds crops. So, what is the advantage? There might be some, I'm just not seeing them.

However, since I do not have soil that can grow potatoes very well, nothing that deep, I might try this for potato production. Just for the heck of it. Sunless potatoes.

2 Re: Straw bale gardening on Mon Jan 13, 2014 4:58 am

auntieevil

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Two years ago I planted in a few hay bales that had been ruined by getting wet. They worked great for growing in.
Here we have an issue with lots of rain and lots of weeds. The hay bales eliminated these problems. They lasted 2 seasons before I ripped off the twine and let them rot into the ground where they sat. This is now a great place to grow potatoes.
Have you thought of growing your potatoes in a feed bag or bucket?

3 Re: Straw bale gardening on Mon Jan 13, 2014 7:27 am

uno

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I am surprised you had success since this book says hay will not work due to the high seed content it usually has. You will grow a fine crop of hay.

I have tried various ways to grow spuds, with limited success.

If I can find some straw, I might give this a shot, just for the heck of it.

4 Re: Straw bale gardening on Mon Jan 13, 2014 8:32 am

Schipperkesue

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I have tried this, and you do get some other things sprouting..wheat in wheat straw,etc,

I have grown potatoes in straw. It works well and saves time as the potatoes are clean when you harvest.

5 Re: Straw bale gardening on Mon Jan 13, 2014 9:57 am

'lilfarm

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I don't know if anyone has posted this link before but this lady is truly inspiring. Ruth Stout planted potatoes (and everything else) without digging and using straw. I love how she's out there in her nineties gardening away. In earlier years her husband said he knew when Ruth was out in the garden because the cars doing down the road would slow down (she would garden naked in her younger years) LOLOLOL A must see.
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6 Re: Straw bale gardening on Mon Jan 13, 2014 10:18 am

Fowler

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'lilfarm wrote:I don't know if anyone has posted this link before but this lady is truly inspiring.  Ruth Stout planted potatoes (and everything else) without digging and using straw.  I love how she's out there in her nineties gardening away.  In earlier years her husband said he knew when Ruth was out in the garden because the cars doing down the road would slow down (she would garden naked in her younger years) LOLOLOL   A must see.
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Going to finsih watching that in full with wifey later. Thanks for the link!

7 Re: Straw bale gardening on Mon Jan 13, 2014 10:33 am

IzzyD

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I would like to give it a try, could be pretty neat!

8 Re: Straw bale gardening on Mon Jan 13, 2014 12:23 pm

uno

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What a gem that lady is!

9 Re: Straw bale gardening on Mon Jan 13, 2014 3:11 pm

auntieevil

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The hay I used was old stuff a guy had left in a barn that fell down. Doubt it was good quality.
Any small weeds that grew from it were easy to pick out. Not like the weeds that take over in the ground here!

10 Re: Straw bale gardening on Mon Jan 13, 2014 7:08 pm

Magdelan

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totally loved that woman. she thinks outside the box and flips the birdie to all the rules on how to be a good gardener - obviously she was successful with her gardening after 35 years and still doing it the same way. I scoff at my neighbor who puts string down for his nice neat rows of lettuce and whatever else (not a serious scoff, more like a quiet chuckle  Laughing ). I like not straight lines  Twisted Evil . Life is not a nice straight line  Smile . I'm gonna send it to my gardening fambles in NZ.

I love straw as mulch in the garden. have heard people have successful crops of spuds with it too but I wonder where they get their nutrients from to grow big juicy tubers. I have not managed a good potato result with straw in the couple attempts I did. got some but nothing like in the dirt. I remember you are on a gradient Uno, just how steep is it?

11 Re: Straw bale gardening on Mon Jan 13, 2014 9:48 pm

uno

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Gradient. Wow. That makes it sound fancy. We refer to it as 'stinking mountainside'.

The slope changes from place to place. There is no average grade. But there are no flat spots either.

Let's just put it this way, if you park a vehicle on one of those slopes, you BLOCK THE TIRES! Everywhere I go on this property, one trip, there or back, is uphill. Annoying.

12 Re: Straw bale gardening on Mon Jan 13, 2014 10:04 pm

Magdelan

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So hard gardening on stinking mountainsides, do you have terraces? I imagine so. you do what you gotta do. I guess the upside of it is that you probably have very beautiful calf and thigh muscles  Smile . Been a long time since I felt I had to block the tires on a vehicle, it must be damn steep.

13 Re: Straw bale gardening on Tue Jan 14, 2014 6:44 am

Fowler

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Uno can plant her potatoes under straw ans then just set a pot a ways downhill and wait. She won't even have to pick.

14 Re: Straw bale gardening on Tue Jan 14, 2014 7:26 am

coopslave

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Uno, this is a little different and may work for you. They like this in Australia. Holds moisture in, protects from wind and lets it drain when you do get rain. I did one of these once and it worked a charm. I think it would even work on your 'gradient'!  Wink 

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15 Re: Straw bale gardening on Tue Jan 14, 2014 10:35 am

Magdelan

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that's cool Coopslave.  I am tempted to try it myself.  Although we have lots of flat area we have to build our soil up because we have so many huge rocks, not really soil at all under the surface.  So we use raised beds a lot  -  or will be.  My son watched this youtube with me, thought we should build the raised bed and put the straw bales inside and it would be the way to begin raising the bed up and filling in the frame.  
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I also like this idea, we looked at this youtube for ideas last year or year before because of our lack of topsoil.  growing potatoes really conditions your soil.  this guy lives on the side of a hill.  he has easy access to water which is cool.  Ours is not so near.  I don't know if you have Uno.
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Another method of building soil up for gardens that I like and would work really well on a hillside to make terraces is Sepp Holzer's hugelkultur which are raised beds using logs of wood which you cover with dirt and mulch, as the wood breaks down it acts like a sponge and generates heat etc.  I like this idea. they can be big or small.  I have a book by Sepp Holzer about permaculture.  He has a 100 acre property in Austria that is over 5000 feet and he has an amazing farm  -  fruit, animals and a lot of steep hillsides with terraces.  I know he goes to Washington State to do lectures and teaching sessions. This youtube is about the hugelkultur but plug his name into youtube and see what comes up, probably get to see his farm.  I'm going to look later, now all excited about gardens!  Just got to skate across to the barn and do few chores  Razz 
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16 Re: Straw bale gardening on Tue Jan 14, 2014 12:06 pm

uno

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I have used this raised approach in various forms.

I have several raised beds. Having cleared scrub brush to place them, I now have raised beds that are thick with the encroaching roots of all the nearby scrub brush. It is an ongoing battle to
de-rootify (new word) those beds. It is a battle I am losing. IT seems the answer lies in having NO CONTACT between the bottom of the bed and the earth below. I have, over the years, taken these beds apart and put raised bottoms in them. I get slightly better (still dismal) results and the deer eat slightly better than they otherwise would. (I hate deer!)

I have also built a hugelbate (2 now), which I call the burial mound, because HD figured I had gone bonkers, whacked my husband and buried him in the garden. No, it was just a large mound of buried limbs and trunk sections of cut down willow trees as the base, with old rotting hay thrown on top and then soil on top of that. NOTE TO SELF make damn sure your willow sections are good and dead because you will grow an astonishing crop of willow trees this way otherwise. My first hugelbate became root bound very quickly and was later dismantled and replaced with a raised bed, with a false bottom to keep the soil OFF the earth and hopefully keep roots out.

This is way too much work for 8 strawberries and 2 carrots.

17 Re: Straw bale gardening on Tue Jan 14, 2014 2:26 pm

lady leghorn


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UNO......I have that book. Was going to try it out. But the wheat straw I bought the previous fall, was baled long, like hay. ( never seen that

before)? So ended up doing it like Coopslave showed in her video. Threw all our recycling in there, filled it with leaves, etc. then finally ended up

buying soil. The soil on this place is awful. It worked well, but I didn't get the soil until late, planted my beefstake tomatoes late too. If they had

gone in early, they would have ripened, we ended up with loads of green ones. The straw bales are still holding up, haven't completely rotted yet.

Doing it by that book is too expensive. Just straight straw would work for you. Only cut your bales open and spread like Ruth Stout did.

She virtually never weeded. Didn't need to water much either. She wrote some awesome books that still can't be beat in gardening books.

You have some soil, so your potatoes and whatever would grow through the straw to get the nutrients. Go for it. Look for old hay or straw now.

Lots of farmers have some partially spoiled or rotten. Have fun. Smile

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