Let me share with you why we use straw bale gardening.
Last spring Sunny (our now 11 year old) had to create a How-To series for her end of year 4th grade project. As quickly as she was given the assignment she had come up with her topic: Straw Bale Gardening. Though I wanted to support her, I will admit I was a bit skeptic as I have anything but a green thumb and I was concerned it would require a bit of know-how.
Enter my dear friend and gardener Nikki whom I immediately turned to and who borrowed us her Straw Bale Gardening book by Joel Karsten. This book saved us! It’s a quick and easy read with a simple step by step process even I was able to digest and implement. Though here’s the thing, outside of hauling the bales (which she helped with) and setting them up (again, she helped place them), she did almost all of the set up and planting, it was so cool to see.
Here are 5 things I learned right away:
1- We could have planted a lot more than we did
2-We could have laid out the straw bale pattern differently
3-We needed to use something more sturdy than the flimsy gardening wire for our pole beans and peas
4-I was immediately sold on the lack of weeding required!!!
5-We needed a motion sprinkler for the deer that jump the fence and eat their way up and down the garden (and have for years, this was just confirmation for me).
Last year we didn’t get our garden in until the second week of June because we didn’t realize we had to condition the bales for two weeks (I suggest reading the whole book before you begin the process), though still had a good harvest. We had seeds germinate that hadn’t in years prior (spinach and carrots), which was exciting for the kids. This year the bales were set up in mid May so we were able to plant Memorial Day weekend and I went easy peasy lemon squeezy with 95% transplants. My excuse? I was 7 1/2 months pregnant at the time of planting and did it mostly in the rain this year as the girls were gone for the weekend. I am, however, committed to growing seeds indoors next year with a grow light, I just have it we don’t have any room (gonna have to get creative). With both our girls doing online public school next year they will be around for most of the dirty work and would love the task.
A quick photo of this year’s (almost) complete garden-
What I did differently this year:
1-We purchased a longer soaker hose.
2-We are using our sturdy homemade wooden tomato cages for climbing peas and beans
3-We moved our potato towers (yet to be planted) into the middle of the garden
4-We planted one bale with strawberry transplants as we have an entire 8×8 section in our garden that’s strawberries only and they haven’t done so well in the past two years, so I’m curious to see who wins the contest this year-the section or the single solitary bale.
5-We have ordered a motion sprinkler as once the end of June arrives, so do the deer.
6-Conditioning of the bales began in mid May so they were ready for planting Memorial Day weekend.
What you’ll need for materials:
It’s time to eat!