If you’re new to straw bale gardening, you might be wondering which crops will do well in your new container garden. Here are some recommendations for the most versatile and hardy plants to grow in a straw bale: spinach, chard, and kale. While they are all easy to grow, they do best in early spring or fall, as they tend to lose their flavor during the heat of summer.
Crops that grow well in straw bales
If you want to plant a crop in a straw bale, you can choose from a variety of seedlings and larger plants. Larger seedlings can be planted in the bale directly and can be planted to knuckle-depth. Tiny seedlings can be planted with potting soil to keep them at the correct depth. Make sure the potting soil is sterile and able to hold water.
For vegetable gardening in straw bales, you must condition the bales before planting them. Water the bales twice a day for the first three days, and fertilize on days seven and eight. After the first three days, the straw bales should feel warm and damp to touch. A few days before planting, you can apply fertilizer, which contains nitrogen to promote the growth of healthy plants.
When it comes to fertilizers, it is important to select ones that are specifically for growing plants in straw bales. Fertilizers should match the crop type and soil conditions. If you are an organic gardener, you can use natural fertilizers like farmyard manure and compost. Liquid fertilizers can also be used to supplement the soil. You can also add liquid fertilizers in your irrigation water.
The second step is conditioning the bales. Once you have prepared the bales, you can sprinkle a thin layer of high-nitrogen fertilizer over the bales and water it in daily. Make sure the bale is moist and warm enough to be able to germinate the seeds. After two weeks, you can sow the seeds of your crops into the bales.
You can plant your straw bale garden in the fall or early spring. Planting in straw bales is best in the spring or after the last frost. Most vegetables require six or more hours of direct sunlight to grow properly. You also need to provide water for your crops. If your straw bale garden is going to be used as a shelter, it may be difficult to move it. To keep your plants healthy, use composted straw.
In-between-season crops are good choices to add to your straw bale garden during the fall and winter. Straw bales have a high water infiltration rate, making passive irrigation or drip irrigation systems an excellent choice. You can also build your own passive irrigation system by using recycled materials, like two-liter plastic bottles. Simply pierce the containers at least two to four times and place them about an inch away from the target plant.
If you want to maximize the benefits of straw bale gardening, you should choose root crops. These are best suited for containers, as the bales are decomposed. However, if you’re not planning on growing plants in containers, bales that are older than two years will be too decomposed to be useful. This type of material makes a good potting medium, as it retains moisture well.
The next step in the process of straw bale planting is fertilizing the bales. Apply fertilizer to the bales on days 4 to 6. Mix one half cup of ammonium sulfate (21-0-0) with one-half cup of urea (46-0-0). This will speed up the decomposition and conditioning of the bales. Once you’ve done this, you can plant seeds or seedlings on the bales.
You can also use the hay bales as a mulch. Once the bales have decomposed, you can plant any vegetable or fruit you’d like. The hay will be the source of nutrients for the plants. Make sure to use a water-soluble fertilizer every two weeks to provide the nutrients they need. After two weeks, you can plant your seeds in straw bales.
Choose your plants carefully. Tomatoes, for example, need space to grow. An indeterminate tomato, for example, will need several bales to yield enough food. Consider their size before planting them. Indeterminate varieties will take up a lot of space, so choose accordingly. Choose herbs and flowers, which tend to grow well in the sides of straw bales. You can even plant them directly in the bales.
If you are looking for a companion plant for your straw bale garden, there are a few options that you should consider. Straw bales tend to dry out quickly and need daily watering. Although they are not airtight, they can retain water and be watered as needed. However, more water can be harmful to the roots of the plants, reducing the nutrients. Joel recommends increasing the frequency of watering to help your plants thrive.
If your soil is heavy clay, you may want to install a membrane barrier around your bales to protect them from the conditions. This will also protect them from pests, including groundhogs and moles. You can also use galvanised bird wire to protect them from burrowing pests. For best results, choose companion plants that can help your vegetables grow. You’ll be pleased with the results.
If you have a small space, you might consider planting herbs or small plants in between the bales. Many flowers and herbs thrive in the side spaces of straw bales. Depending on the size of your plant, you may have to space them out accordingly. You may need to plant a few extra bales of each type. However, if you plan on growing herbs and flowers on the side of the bales, you can also try trellises.
Another way to choose the right companion plants is to plant seeds directly into the bales. The seeds will spread their roots more easily and get firm footing. Once they germinate, spread a thin layer of compost or standard potting mix. Make sure that the soil is not your garden soil. Although it may look like the best option, garden soil can be contaminated with weeds, bacteria, and even slug or snail eggs.
For taller plants, you may also want to consider trellis supports or cages. These systems can be made with baling twine and t-posts. The roots are then protected by soilless mix. This method requires less work and expense than traditional soil gardening. It’s an excellent choice for anyone who wants to grow a garden without spending a lot of money. These plants are low maintenance and low-maintenance, but they do require regular fertilizing.
Avoiding sharp tools
Using sharp tools to garden with straw bale is a risky endeavor, especially when the area is prone to rotting. In addition, straw attracts earthworms, which are very beneficial to your plants. Worms need a good supply of nutrients to survive and thrive in a garden, so incorporating this type of gardening in your landscape is a good idea. Earthworms are also beneficial to your plants, as they provide nutritional support and enhance the soil.
To transplant plants into straw bales, plant them with the same spacing as you would in the ground. First, you must make a hole in the bale using a sharp trowel. Next, use the hole to plant the plant, ensuring that it has all of the needed water. Make sure the area has plenty of room around the plant to encourage root growth. Then, fill in the rest of the bale with soil.
If you are growing plants inside a straw bale, you should cover it with plastic to retain the heat that is generated by bacterial growth. Apply this cover every other day. The bale will be ready for seed sowing on Day 18 after you apply the conditioner. If it is too cool to use the plastic, simply tuck it into the strings of the bale. This way, the plastic will not blow away.
When gardening with straw bales, be sure to avoid using sharp tools, like hoes, for weeding. When watering, straw will become heavy and may require you to use a wheelbarrow or lawnmower to move it. Once you’re done, place the bales in a container or directly on the ground. Place wooden or metal slats between the bales to let air circulate and water drain.
When gardening with straw bales, you can use it as a path by laying them three or four inches thick. Straw will compact as they settle, so keep them away from children’s reach. Remember to water the bales regularly, especially if they are blowing in the wind. This will help them compact and provide weight. If you’ve ever been surprised by the amount of straw you’re able to fit into a barrel, it’s time you took up straw bale gardening.