Dear Readers,

We are starting a straw bale garden to try and grow several vegetable plants inside and to assess how well the growing method works for us.  

My other half is using his chemical concoction for fertilizer whilst I shall be growing organically.

To grow in a straw or hay bale, you need to prepare them which means you need to kickstart decomposition of the bale.  The decomposing bale will feed your plants as they grow.  If you can pick up spoiled bales even better since the decomposition process has already started.

To prepare your bale first move it to where you want it to be placed.  Once you start the preparation it will be very heavy.

 
When positioning our bales we needed to take into account the height of the sprinklers around the vegetable garden as well as what would block the sun, here you can see that the tumbling composter is going to cast shade on the bale.

 

Now that you have positioned your bale, you need to thoroughly wet it all the way through to start decomposition.

 

You can add a high nitrogen liquid fertilizer to activate/speed up the process, here my other half is adding some fertilizer mixture he made:

 

 

In a few weeks, the temperature of the bale will increase, signalling that decomposition is occurring like the temperature rise that is seen in certain types of composting.  Keep the bale moist during this time.
 
You can monitor the temperature and once it has dropped and maintained the lower temperature you can plant in the bale.  Higher temperatures can stunt growth or stop it all together so wait until the bale is cool before planting.
 
To plant, make a hole in the bale and plant directly in.  Add some compost to help the plant adjust to it’s new surroundings.  Keep the bale watered and fertilize as necessary.
 
We’ll be posting more as the weather improves and we can start planting.