Viewing RuTemple's Garden Diary: Strawbale Gardening 2006-2007
In 2006, we brought in 16 bales of straw from a hayfarm/pasturage in Pescadero, CA, which is pretty much due west along Hwy 84 from us on the ocean side of the SF peninsula.
Monday, March 19, 2007
State of the strawbales this weekWe've got a couple of varieties of spinach going great guns, some wee small beet starts, some second year chard, kohlrabi, tat soy, various lettuces and some potatoes that decided to sprout so we thought we'd give them a try.
Sunday, March 18, 2007
PhotosTook a bunch of photos just to get a glimpse of the state of things; all are up at my flickr account http://www.flickr.com/photos/rtds/ and several I'm going to tuck here, into my journal side of things.
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Pictures at FlickrI guess I didn't get to all that much diary note taking through the summer growing season; we are very pleased with the results of our straw bale gardening this past year, and as the bales continue albeit in reduced state from last year, we're piling them up and continuing to grow.
We did harvest the yellow chard from last year's "bright lights" packet o' seeds, and left the red chard to continue growing, since it's very tasty still as a cut-and-come-again - it hasn't bolted for whatever reason!
We've put spinach, tat soy, and romaine lettuces in this week, along with some kohlrabi.
The surprise is that slugs DO find their way up the well-rotted bales this year, unlike last year, as evidenced by the remaining shreds of tat soy and romaine, oops. We've spread plenty of Sluggo around, and will see how they survive.
Lise is hulling pink california poppy seeds from their new-moon-sliver hulls, for an upcoming seed exchange we look forward to.
The thing I did want to note here is that I've put a lot of photos from the 2006 garden up over at http://www.flickr.com/photos/rtds/sets/551386/ my Flickr account page, which gives a good idea of what it all looked like...
Sunday, December 24, 2006
The last of the fresh tomatoes from the gardenWe ate the last of the fresh tomatoes from the garden this evening - Christmas eve!
Who'd had thunk it, growing up in Minne-snow-ta. Or just about anywhere!
Great successes with the year's tomatoes:
Purple Cherokee, who were about done in September
Green Zebra Stripe, who make with the jungle-riotous exuberance and bore through December
Pink Ponderosa, from seeds handed down from a neighbor, who'd had some from another neighbor who has grown them successfully for several long decades - a great cooking tomato.
Brandywines, another heirloom indeterminate, a splendid huge slicing tomato
one Persimmon tomato, so called for the bright orangeness; good as a fresh eater and great in a mixed tomato sauce (we have a few jars left; we froze some puree as well, but mostly we just ate and ate...
Reisenstraube little tomatoes, a prolific and not super-sweet cherry-sized tomato; we had two of these going through November - so tasty, we'll want them again!
One yellow pear tomato plant that bore through December, happily, merrily!
Monday, May 8, 2006
watering, weeding - shrooms?The bales, like those of several others in the DG straw bale vegetable gardening forum here, are sprouting mushrooms like crazy, with this retting and wetting action. It's apparently normal, and a sign that things are going just right In There. Even as much as I love mushrooms, I'm too much of a wimp (or something) to send off a spore card and sample to the local mycologists to find out if they're edible or not, and am just snapping them off at the moment.
The Parone is setting its second and third pepper, and perhaps we'll "harvest" the first one on Tuesday when friends are over. It might go well with the corn... and I'm thinking that being the first to flower and fruit, the seeds from this pepper might well be the ones to try and save over to next year. Hmm! We'll see. Peppers notoriously are not so good for seed saving, since they are insect pollinated, over a loooong distance, but there are no known other peppers around this early, so perhaps, perhaps, with these first ones.
Other peppers are setting flowers, and the tomatillo is certainly setting flowers; we hope to see fruit soon!
Tomorrow I give things some fish juice fertilizer.
Saturday, April 29, 2006
Planting into bales day!This is a clump of 3 bales; with (from the front left to right) a birds-egg gourd, a swan's-neck gourd; the eggplant in the back corner, and the two white zukes.
There's room for the big round gourds that are still too little to transplant, and misc other small stuff to come.
Saturday, April 29, 2006
planting into the bales day!Today we planted into the well-rotting bales:
2 pink ponderosa tomatoes
2 brandywine tomatoes
3 Cherokee purple tomatoes
2 Green Zebra Stripe
1 tomatillo from OSH (good old Orchard Supply Hardware)
1 yellow pear tomato - because we love their silly selves
1 Pimiento del Padrone, which is apparently only propagated in North America by our source, Happy Quail Farms in East Palo Alto (we got this start at the UCCE master gardener's sale a few weeks ago).
1 pepper "Sparky" about 5 on a 1-10 hotness scale whatever that means (it's not apparently related to a scoville scale which is I think logarithmic?)
1 pepper Pimiente d'Esplette ditto for midrange warmth
4 sweet bell peppers, a white, a yellow, an orange, a red, that were mixed up by the time I got them home from aforementioned sale -- "they will announce themselves" said the propagater;
2 Nu-Mex chilis
2 Sweet Hungarian pimientos (Renee's Garden seeds)
some little bitty lettuces we got at the plant swap today (upon also getting rid of many extra pink ponderosa and purple cherokee tomato starts, hurrah)
2 zukes - white summer squash "lolita" hybrid
1 long Japanese dark purple eggplant
there were 7 bush bean starts in the two 4" packs I brought home from OSH; six of them will definitely make it, one we're not sure of but planted in hopes.
Saturday, April 29, 2006
the five-bale setFrom left to right, this time from back to front, there are:
Pepper del Padrone, 2 Brandywine tomatoes, 2 Pink Ponderosa tomatoes
Pepper Nu-Mex, Pepper "Sparky", Pepper "d'Esplette", and two of the sweet bells;
front row: a Nu-Mex, 2 Sweet Hungarian peppers, 2 sweet bells.
Saturday, April 29, 2006
Planting into Bales day!Here's Lise, setting bush beans into the row of 8 bales. Here also on the end are the 3 Cherokee purples; up the row across from her are 2 Green Zebra Stripe tomatoes; there's a tomatillo there and the yellow pear tomatoes we put in the corner nearest the house for easy nibbling.
We chose to stand the bales up next to one another with the long way of the bales adjoining, to help one another retain heat, and stand up; so that's our addition to the variables of folks trying this form of gardening out!
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
straw bales placedThe bales are placed basically where we want them to go and we've started adding N and water to break them down.
We're using Sulfate of Ammonia for the N-gredient, and will use an organic product "Dr. Earth" for the 10-10-10 full feed; we're also pondering the ways of a wedge-tool thingie for planting our starts, with not only their own 4" pots of good soil, but chinking in the cracks we pull in the bales to plant in.
An additional benefit to living near the aptly named "Marsh" road, is the quality of winged visitors we get in the yard.
Monday, April 10, 2006
Map of strawbale gardenersCreated a map this day over on frappr, since strawbaleman mumbled something online about "map" and "pushpins" - and I recalled this place where we could share one.
It's up at http://www.frappr.com/strawbalegardeners
[edit on 4/17/2006: 22 straw bale gardeners, including our neighbor who I don't b'lieve has joined this website yet, are pegged in.]
Friday, April 7, 2006
Straw Bale Delivery!Pastorino Hay called middayish, to let me know the truck was on its way with a few stops in between, and that I should expect them some time after 2pm.
Raindrops have just spattered the windows.
The clock would ring three if we had a clock with bells on, and no straw yet (*bounce!*).
Unless that was them just driving by...
...yes indeed it was! That WAS just them, going by as I happened to glance up and see the reflection in the back window through the front window - they were just down the block wondering if someone was going to do a little straw-bale construction at the new house going up down on the corner. (cool - everybody's excited about that! and the clay soil here would make someone the perfect cob).
So - the hay arrived and got offloaded - our 16 bales to the back (stacked) and 8 bales for our neighbor pals who got excited and joined in the delivery-load, are stacked up between the front walk and the curb, and I found a couple of tarps and tied them on the top half of theirs (as low as what I've got'll dangle), and swept up the spare half-a-compost-binful of loose straw that landed on the drive just as the rain started pelting down.
Now that's timing.
Sunday, April 2, 2006
Wheat Straw order adjustments, grin!Our neighbor has decided that this sounds like an intriguing enough experiment to want to get in on; a call from Pastorino gives this years adjusted price-per-bale, and confirms that the minimum order for delivery to here would be 20 bales (the delivery fee being a not too outlandish $20, though, to keep in mind for future years).
We added not just 4 more bales for minimum, but all the way up to 24 bales total, 16 for us, and 8 for our pals, who wound up with their truck being full as yet (unplanned) and hiring some other neighbor to heft their 8 bales from our front yard to their place just a few miles away. (Next year, it may be cheaper/easier to have delivery from Pastorino directly to each home.)
At $9.50 a bale plus tax, we winced at how cheap straw is in other parts of the country, and looking at local prices for, well, anything, figure it's "cheaper than dirt" in terms of what the clay-below would need in terms of amendments, to say nothing of the above-groundlevel water table at this time of year. We're happy; we're delighted with Pastorino as a company and recommend them to anyone from San Jose to Santa Cruz to San Francisco, and the entire peninsula in between, for your needs.
The other nearest feed and hay suppliers are also in Half Moon Bay; there's nothing closer on this (urbanized) side of the peninsula. San Jose is an orchard no more, but Silicon Valley with interesting back yard trees, these days.
Friday, March 31, 2006
Order for wheat Straw placedWe ordered 16 bales of wheat straw from Pastorino Hay in Half Moon Bay, CA, hoping that even though we're "over the hill" (the coastal mountain range that runs up the Peninsula) we'd be in that number for their minimum order for free delivery.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Opting for doing Straw BaleWe discussed and chose to try out Straw Bale Gardening this year in the back yard. Even though it's water intensive, and we wonder about warmth in our warm days but cool nights region, it's certainly worth the experiment!
Monday, March 20, 2006
Strawbale gardening?Kent / Strawbaleman posted notes to the Vegetable Gardening and to the Accessible Gardening forums, mentioning his success last year with a straw bale gardening method.
I was immediately intrigued, since our ideal-for-making-cob mud soil was (and is) under an inch or more of water at this point, and it was already becoming clear that some form of raised beds, with serious soil amendment below, would be in order for gardening in this yard.
More research followed...