Straw Bale Gardening

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Straw bale gardening is a unique and innovative gardening method that involves using straw bales as the primary growing medium for plants. You will still need to know the growing seasons for your climate and source quality planting material, ie open pollinated seed.

It will supply you with enough fresh greens to feed your family and hence avoid the poisonous industrial food in the supermarket. This technique has gained popularity for its simplicity, accessibility, and versatility. It is the simplest and most powerful way to secure our future food security.

Straw bale gardening is particularly advantageous for people with limited space, poor soil quality, or mobility issues. It offers a raised bed-like environment and can be used in various climates.
Additionally, at the end of the growing season, the decomposed straw can be left in situ to build soil, used as mulch, or added to compost.

Here’s a basic overview of straw bale gardening

Selecting Straw Bales:

Use straw, not hay, as hay contains seeds that can sprout and create unwanted weeds.
Choose straw bales that are tightly bound and not overly weathered. Better to buy quality here. Know your source.

Position

Place the straw bales in the desired location preferably close to your everyday activities, in full sun. Position the cut side facing up to create a planting surface.

Conditioning the Straw Bales

Before planting, the straw bales need to be conditioned.

Here is the fast method

Conditioning means wetting and fertilising the bales for roughly ten days to start composting the inner straw. For the first six days, put down three cups of organic fertiliser per bale every other day, and water the bales to push the fertiliser down and thoroughly saturate the straw. On the off days, simply water the bales. Days seven through nine, lay down 1.5 cups of organic fertiliser each day and water. Day ten put down three cups with phosphorus and potassium (bone or fish meal mixed with 50% wood ash works like a charm).

Planting

Once the bales have been conditioned and the internal temperature has stabilised, you can plant directly into them.
Create holes or pockets in the straw and use some quality compost or soil mix to plant seedlings or seeds into.

Watering

Straw bales can dry out quickly, so regular watering is essential. Watering from the top will help nutrients from the decomposing straw filter down to the roots.
A soaker hose can be effective in maintaining consistent moisture levels.

Fertilising

As the straw decomposes, it provides some nutrients to the plants. However, additional fertilisation may be necessary, especially with plants that have high nutrient requirements. Worm juice is a great addition as well as compost or simply liquid seaweed or organic fertiliser. Get a worm farm going as well as an aerobic compost to recycle your green waste.

Support and Trellising

Provide support for tall or vining plants by using stakes or creating trellises over the straw bales.

Harvesting

Harvesting is similar to traditional gardening. Be mindful of the decomposition process, and as the straw breaks down, you may need to add more fertiliser.

Ensure you have used quality open pollinated seed, save it to replant. This is more valuable than money.

Straw bale gardening books

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