Growing Vegetables In Straw Bales
The next time you pass a harvested barley field and look over at the straw bales neatly piled up, maybe you should be considering purchasing some of them to grow your vegetables!
There is virtually no limit to the range of nutritious veggies you can grow in a straw bale. Tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower – even potatoes can be grown this way very successfully.
Yes, it might seem a little strange if you have never heard of this concept before, but the fact is that this is one of these small garden ideas that is fast growing in popularity, for a number of good reasons.
1. With a tiny amount of starter compost or soil, you are able to grow your own vegetables even though you have little or no garden space available. The reason is due to the fact that as the bale deteriorates, it in effect produces its own perfect growing medium by turning to compost over the growing season.
2. It is one of the many no-dig gardening methods that truly lives up to its name! There is no digging involved at all, other than the initial planting of the seedlings in the straw bale itself.
3. Controlling weeds is a simple task with this gardening technique, as the straw has no seeds in it to start with, and the small amount of compost is virgin soil therefore weed-free.
4. Like other Raised Bed gardening techniques, the Straw Bale gardening idea is easy to maintain owing to the raised aspect of the bale. No constant bending over to maintain the vegetable garden means less backache for the gardener!
5. Pest control is also much easier with this gardening idea, as the dreaded slug for instance does not like the spikey straw, and the equally destructive cabbage moth is easily kept at bay with an insect mesh slipped over a simple frame and tucked under the straw bale strings.
6. No wheelbarrows, spades, heavy forks or other equipment is needed for a straw bale garden – only space around 4 feet by 18 inches (1200 x 450 mm) is needed to place your bale upon. More space – more bales!
Setting up your straw bale properly is the secret to success with this method, however, the basics are very simple to get started. Here is a brief outline of what is required.
- Choose your position – somewhere with a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight.
- Prepare your straw bale by laying it on the edge (spiky side upwards), then soaking it with a mixture of water and nitrogen-rich fertiliser. Soak every other day – do not let the bale dry out.
- After 10-14 days your bale should be ready for planting.
- Plant seedlings by digging a 6-inch deep hole in the bale and filling them with a good compost mixture, before planting your seedlings.
- Watch your plants grow! Support where necessary just as you would in a regular garden.
If you are considering trying out this concept for the first time and would like more detailed information on the subject, then more detailed information on this and other ways to grow vegetables in limited spaces such as raised Bed Gardening, Square Foot Gardening and Container Planting on our website.