Kent, I would say you should try one first. Years ago I got a Mantis. After I got it I discovered the way it worked was that you had to walk backwards with it!!! Very difficult to do without walking on plants etc. I gave it away. A brand new machine. Totally wrong for what I wanted. Jeanette
I have learned that many of the things you find online and elsewhere is: one, junk, two, doesn't do what it is supposed to do, or three too expensive for the use. Most of these are designed to catch the buyer, much like most of the fishing lures you find on the market.
I am going to begin the new year by wintersowing some milk jugs tomorrow with my grandkids. I think we are going to start, carrots, broccoli, peas, and some flowers, don't know what kinds yet.
Even if the milk jugs don't have very many sprouts, it will be fun to get the grandkids hands dirty.
Paul: I listened to that tiller run on youtube and it sounds like it's gonna fly all to pieces. Plus, so much dirt is kicked up and it can't help but get in the electric motor that's not protected at all.
I have used a Stihl chain saw for years. They make quality products that do as they are designed
Stihl is a German company, I think.
Another point, if you buy a Stihl little tiller, plan to spend some money.
I have the cultivator that goes with Black & Decker 18volt system- It is small enough to use in confined spots and for an old woman to handle! It doesn't rotate, just oscillates back & forth. I love it.
Google Black & Decker 18volt system- there are 5 or 6 tools that all use the same battery- I have the hedge trimmer, cultivator, blower & string trimmer, and love them all. I have 6 chargers & 8 batteries, so I'm never out of power. They are a great investment- no cords or gas to mess with.
Hi Guys! I'm back! Hopefully I'll be able to stick with you again this year. The past two years were a nightmare for me as a home gardener...just didnt have the time! I even had the bales ...left to compost away...Waaah! But this year is going to be much different and I hope to have new bales soon. So glad to be here with you again!
You could take the old bales and pack the hay/straw into some of those plastic storage bins and use them for grow boxes. Kent has built wooden containers for his old bales but you could do the same with plastic storage bins. Make sure to poke holes in the bottom for drainage.
I have some of those rope bins you can buy at WallyWorld that I have tamped full of leaves from last fall. I am going to add some soil on top and see how they do as grow bins.
Thanks Lonejack! Actually I tried it last year with plastic (4) milk crates...no luck! So Im going to try my best with true strawbales again. Ive already created a raised bed with the broken down bales and have manured them once, last fall, and will put one more spread from the chicken house compost and water in this weekend.
Rope bins are the plastic bins you see at Lowes and Wally World with the rope handles. They are about 10 gallons, but
seemed to have been getting smaller and smaller as the years go by. I have been using them for years.
They make a handy bin to do many things around the house, including cooling beer in the summer.
Here is a picture of some I bought at Wally World to use in a wading pool garden this next summer.
Lonejack I come across some of those cattle & Horse mineral tubs. some times the farmers re use them for water and other feeds but most just throw them away after the mineral is gone. they are about 21" across and 18" deep. they hold enough material to hold most root systems for garden produce. I have found that the red ones deteriorate out in the sun but the green and the black ones hold up real well. I would think that if the red ones were painted to reflect the sun rays they could hold up longer. I got them for free.
Like any container however, watering is required quite often. I also found that strawberries don't winter well in them here. May have freeze dried I'm not sure. I'm back to doing stoop labor for straw berries. Mostly hands & knees ha ha ha oh well at least they survive in the ground.
Winter here has been strange so far this year. We only had one snow in December, 2". It was gone in a couple days. and we have had maybe an 1" and 1/2 so far in Jan. and it has been unseasonably warmer than normal. usually by now we have had around 20-25" of snow on the ground. so I've been watering my fruit trees. I'm sure that by spring we will get some precip in one form or another. Or I will be doing a lot of watering.
Eufalla, how many chickens do you keep? I'm wondering about the cost and weather to keep any for eggs or just raise a small lot for the freezer, and just let them free range around the garden, so I don't have to carry them through the winter. They wouldn't be pets. lol
Here is a link for a strawberry system I have used for many years. I just sold all of my system when I moved; of course, NOW I regret the move. Isn't that the way it goes.
I have had great luck with bush beans and cucumbers. I plant purple beans so I can see them growing on the tower. Of course flowers do really well. I plant impations on the North, low light side. That way I have some color.
These things might seem to you to be expensive but they will last forever, unlike the foam towers of some other systems.
You can see comercial strawberry growers using these in California.
I called one of the growers and he said he doesn't try to over-winter his strawberries. He just discards them and buys new plants. That way he avoids disease. Look for DAY NEUTRAL varieties.
Yeah, I have seen all those. Many bucks. I would do my own, but they need a place to run without overhead hawks etc. My area is so hilly, that I can't really make a chick run. Plus you almost have to have a floor and top on them for protection.
Good morning Russ and everyone!!!! Yes I have Chickens, they are my therapy and Sanity!! LOL! I am down to 13 chickens right now from 50 or so this last spring. Because of family obligations and a lot of travel between my home and my Parents, I had to drastically downsize. Sooo I still have a LOT of compost and manure "cooking" .
Gardens and Chickens really do not go together unless you have your garden area really fenced in! Remember Chickens can fly too, so unless you clip their wings, your garden isnt protected from them. They tend to really love straw blaes. They just love picking and scratching your nice neat bales into scraggly messes! Let them free range but protect the garden area.
By all means though , their compost is wonderful for your gardening needs. But you must age it first. The nitrogen is way too high at first to use it "green"!
Jnette, my chickens ( large Fowl) free range during the day only. They are penned up in their house at night. Ive learned never to let my Bantams free range unless Im close by. The Hawks during the day are horribly aggressive especially in the spring. At night I have to protect everyone from Possums mostly.
Russ you would be surprised to know that the cost of food for my Chickens isnt so bad. I mainly give them cracked corn and scratch ( mixture of grains) in the Winter. Feeding them this in the afternoons means their systems are still working through out the night to digest their food which keeps them warm. In the laying season I give the laying mash. I buy from a local feed and seed, where they mix their own feeds, so the cost of a 50 lb bag of scratch, Chick Starter or layer usually runs around $10.00 for each.
Back to gardening now! The one thing other than fertilizer that my Chicks do help with is the fact that I can turn them loose in my area where I have started preparing my raised beds . They have a ball scratching through it and getting rid of all the nasties like cutworms and other unidentified pest larvae! This is a big help.
Yeah, I knew chickens don't distinguish garden plants from other green grass and weeds.
I had planned for fences to keep them out of most of the garden.
Paul I will have to check that out but I haven't had any problem with the straw berries wintering in the ground. just have to run the mower through once in a while and follow that up with the tiller to keep a path open. I don't need a lot of berries to last through the winter, as long as I freeze most of them.
I do have plenty of lumber, that was for another project that got put on the back burner, I could use for a
" Tractor " and the wire wouldn't be that much as I have a couple partial rolls out back. I also have a large metal frame that I salvaged from my construction days, that could be used for a very substantial frame work to weld to for the wheel mechanics . That would keep me from having a big outlaying expense.
I didn't know the why but when we had chickens when I was little Dad always wanted to keep feed in front of them in the afternoon as well as early morning. Guess I thought it was more like to keep them from being hungry. He had a 10 gallon water can that that he expected me to carry and set up so they had plenty of water but there is only so much that a short person could handle that it was more like move it a few inches and set it down a bunch of times before I got it into the hen house. LOL
We get quite a few grass hoppers here that would help with the protein for them + a few food scraps should help with the feed as well.
I would like to try save a few to be layers but want to have some fryers and such.
Today is 52nd anniversary so I get to take the better half out to eat this evening, so best get to work on getting ready as we will pay a couple bills, pick up some meds and get haircut all in the same trip.
Jeanette; You don't dare get attached to any of them for pets or you will end up with many rabbits and or chickens and have nothing but expense and still have to go to the store to buy meat.
I have to say on eating out, Jeanette; that we were told that we should at least eat out and Tami & Gary gave us a gift certificate. Otherwise I would have made a special meal right here, and I would even have washed the dishes.
My birthday is our next thing and I'm not planning anything except I might bake something, cake or brownies,
After all nothing can beat 75 free trips around the sun and 52 years with the same gal and still looking for more years together, now can it???
Russ, if you are like Bob and I, you would much rather cook a nice meal yourself than eat out any time. Call us strange, but I guess once in a while if we feel like a meal with something we don't normally have on hand, or nearby, otherwise we cook.
Actually, both of us like to cook, so guess that is why.
You mean you can't eat Buster or Jennie? The rabbits? LOL
Now that I do not have someone around to do the dirty deed of "loppin" off little rabbit heads , I guess I wont be eating delicious fresh rabbit either! Sooooo I guess I could just have a couple of fuzzy wuzzies of the same sex, to give me some good "furzilizer" ! Then I wouldnt have to worry about the feed bill either!
Heres a photo of my last little bunny. He was a "free range bunny" for 3 years on my yard! He was very sociable and knew how to avoid visiting neighbor dogs!
Im determined though since I do have a couple of acres to have a better garden and a few more Livestock to sustain me . Hmm I need a goat too! I love the companionship and milk!
Problem with that idea Eufaula, is the same one I gave Bob when he said he would like some goat's milk for cheese. You can't just milk a goat on demand. You have to milk them just like a cow, on a regular schedule, or they dry up.
I think if they had names, they would have to stick around a while- - -see if they could lay those colored Easter eggs lol.
At one time I had 5 does and 1 buck. they kept us supplied with plenty of meat. Eventually I sold the adults and got out of raising them. That was somewhere around 35 years ago. A few years before that I had a hutch in town had a mixture of different breads until a couple dogs tore their way into the hutch.
Oh well. Guess it depends on how much I want to be tied down. I don't know if I could depend on any outside help, One of our daughters might take care of feeding chickens for a couple days but that is probably about it. Might get more help on a butchering day though.
I have a little camping and fishing to do this summer and don't want to be tied down so it is probably out for this year, Have a couple places I may want to stay for about a week or so.
Yeah, it's that time in your life that you want to relax and not be tied down. Just pick up and go. Fishing sounds great doesn't it. Bob talked to a guy last week that had been ice fishing and said he caught a mess of perch and a pike. I remember when we were kids we used to catch a lot of those and my mom put them on her roses. The perch. I think they are pretty good eating, but a lot of work to clean.
They are fighting a pike invasion on our river out here because they don't want them to get down into the Columbia and eat the salmon. They have at least 4 dams to go over, but that doesn't stop them. Pike are really good eating and a lot of people would like to get the fishery going here.
Oh well, Russ are you near a good fishing place? Or would you have to travel a long way?
Oowie!!! Ice fishing...bbbbrrr!!!
Nope Jnette, I milked those Nannies and had kids on bottles, while my 2 legged babies had fresh milk too! That was 25 years ago.
I too would like to keep some time for relaxation so maybe one bred Nanny and a couple of rabbits and at least a dozen or two chickens, an 8 bale strawbale garden and maybe a small annual flower bed! Haahaahaaaa! Oh well its a good thing I love to be outdoors!
Jeanette, 20 miles to the Missouri river, catch most anything , Have a small creek bout a half mile can channel cats not many at a time, 12 miles to the Little Souix , which is great for catfish and walleye. of course there are rough fish there too. Carp, Drum, Suckers. Then there are a bunch of farm ponds clustered around close that have Bass and Blue Gill. If you get a half doz. 8 to 10 " blue gill you have some darn good eatin. I like 2 to 4lb catfish course if you catch a few smaller ones just clean em and bake them whole.
Oh you know hills don't bother goats, they could come right up to your deck to get milked " Naaa naaa naaa. Just had to say that Jeanette, you know me. lol
Eufalla; checked with one of our daughters last night, and got an okay on her taking care of chickens for a week or so. Believe I might go ahead and start building that chicken tractor. Though I don't know for the life of me why they call it a tractor- - - lol Maybe cause you almost need a tractor to move it. lol
Sounds like you have a lot of fishing places close enough for day trips Russ. Do you need a boat to fish them? We have a lot also, but need a boat in most of them. Lakes. The river is so big you can fish from a boat, which I don't like because there is so much milfoil, or fish from my sister's dock, which my sil was doing when he caught the 44 inch pike. Wonderful fish and great eating.
We used to catch 14 inch croppies in the backwater from the river, and they were good. Wouldn't they be a lot like the blue gill?
Gotta ask you Russ, why would you do a chicken tractor rather than a house. Wouldn't you be able to use the building you had the goats in?
I have a building I can start them in but I like the idea of moving it around to put a little " fertilizer " here and there in the garden in the fall and early spring letting the chickens spread it and at the same time have a safe house for them, nest boxes and all. also it not being a building on a foundation it would come under a farm trailer designation and not be taxed as a building. You know how counties and States like to tax everything! I pay more in property tax than I paid in rent for a house and double lot back in the mid 60s. and this house is about the same age, size and condition as that. Go figure.
No I don't think that " building " would do it was just thrown together and the roof is just a tarp, that has since riddled. I would start them in the green house I built. If I put nest boxes on an outside wall and a roost in it it would just be big enough but when the sun started getting overhead it would get too hot,unless I at least re did the roof.
Yep crappies and bluegills would be " close "
yep Postman one day I come home with 2 that were 8" and 5 that were right at 6" I didn't count how many I threw back, that ranged from 4" down to 1"LOL
A little white rubber spider does a great job "most of the time"
Trout are not a natural here, we would have to pay extra for a trout stamp on top of the regular fishing license. I have had trout but I don't agree with paying that much extra just to be able to fish for one more species of fish. but yes trout has great texture, flavor, easy to clean and so on.
:0 ) We don't clean them Russ. LOL, we were sitting on the shore one time fishing for trout, when a car stopped and this man and woman were telling us how to fix the trout. They were from a Southern state, or Midwest, don't remember. But he told us to skin them!! I told him no way, that was the best part of the fish. Plus, they don't have scales. What is there to clean except gutting and beheading? Yes, I guess you did say easy.
I just discovered strawbale gardening. I started a coldframe with ten straw bales in January. they surround a raised bed. I plan to transplant seedlings into the bales after the last frost date. My question: by April 6 will they have composted by themselves or do I have to add anything to them before I plant (they have already sprouted a little wheat). Ot can I just put the seedlings in and add water?
Linda, what do they look like now? they normally take heat to decompose. If you are still getting frost, they probably didn't get much heat. I doubt they would be decomposed much. What do you think Kent? You live in Linda's area.
Haven't seen or heard from you in a long time Kent. Is it seedlings keeping you so busy, I hope. What kind of set up do you have now? So, you must have pretty good weather to be getting your bales ready and I am only assuming you have seeds growing.
Keep us posted ol bud. We are all anxious to see how it goes!
I'm kind of busy right now with making a portable chicken coop. Daughter wanted to keep me busy I think. We bought some broilers together, I'm to care for them till butchering time. Then I figure as long as I'm going to have chickens and be tied down, I might as well have a few to give me some eggs as well. Make more use of the chicken coop. That will also give me more for the compost pile.
I am also going to attempt to raise some cucumbers hydroponic and a couple tomato plants. Already have the tubs so might as well experiment with that too.
I have one raised bed with old straw, leaves, river silt and sand. I plan to try about 4 sweet potatoes in that, with one squash which will vine out from there, where I can tie it up on a hog panel. And I have put fertilizer on all the leaves I spread this year. don't want them to just be dry leaves.
I plan on getting a few hay bales but not for this years garden, they will be for next year. I already have more to do before garden work begins than I can handle, so just attempting to plan ahead.
Wow, you guys are so busy. Don't you have any snow Russ? We still have a half a foot of ice and snow. Mostly ice. The ground is frozen hard. Don't know how far down. I thought I saw some Helebore leaves trying to come out of it. They are pretty hardy if that is true.
It thaws during the day and freezes it all again at night. Same old story. I am going to plant my tomato seeds etc. maybe in a week or 2. Our last frost date is the end of May. So, still have plenty of time.
No snow Jeanette. Oh there are a few patches where they cleared off a parking lot but you have more on the ground yet than we got all winter " SO FAR" and we really cant say we have frost in the ground either, as only a thin crust is frozen. As I said somewhere else this has been the mildest winter I can remember. Temps have been up into the 40s off and on oh we have had some below zero days but few and far between. It hasn't been that way all over the state but right here it has been it's own micro zone.
I fear that the fruit trees will blossom and then a hard freeze will catch them and no fruit again. Tomorrow it is going to " possibly " be in the 60s and Tue. in the 70s. That will make the snow melt. I know winter isn't over yet though, I'm sure we will catch it the first week of spring. Maybe have the biggest snow of the year ; hope I'm wrong.
I think the chickens will be fun. At least you don't have to milk them like cows lol
That would be very reasonable. There is a place near here that does it but I don't know for how much. DD wants to do hers by hand, I will oblige as that will be quality time.Now the rest of of them, that could be a different story, unless she is willing to help with all of them.
The white ones are Cornish Rock Cross they are a meat bird, poor egg layers. The darker ones are Barred Rock, also a heavy breed but good layer. Only have 12 of those. There the keepers lol
Ordered 35 of the Cross 39 were shipped, all have survived. That will be a freezer full. Come on down we'll put one or two on the smoker "yummy."
Re the readiness of my bales: Since they were covered with glass during January and most of February, I am treating them with some Black Kow for now. I sprouted so much in my cold frame that I was able to sell some seedlings during our yard sale on Sat. Here's what I have taken from the cold frame and planted in the garden already: peas, escarole, chard, endive, kale, collards, cabbage, leeks, parsley, cilantro and even fava beans. I cover the beans up when nights go below 32 and everything fine so far. The upside of global warming. It's mid-spring here on the Lower East Side of Alamance County. But my forsythia is late. ?
Kent due to the possibility of recurring diseases, I have emptied my boxed in row and am adding new bales. I'll probably do this every two to three years. The old decomposed straw is an excellent addition to flower beds however so it's a win-win situation!
I am new to straw bale gardening, but I am looking forward to experimenting! I have been reading through many of the posts on the site and I am happy to see so many people who are both experienced and newbies. I noticed a few tangents where alfalfa bales were mentioned. I have five alfalfa bales cooking in the yard as we speak, so hopefully I can contribute some information to the site through the process of trial and error.
Dione, Welcome to the SB gardening. I started here several years ago, always with straw. But last year found alfalfa bales cheaper than straw believe it or not. Well, we had a really yucky year weatherwise like a lot of people did, so it was a pretty short season. But, believe it or not, I had the best flavored tomatoes that I have ever had while gardening in this area, about 17 years. I do not know what to attribute it to, but that was the only differences.
The alfalfa, plus the shorter season. LOL, the first might be a good one, but have my doubts about the second. I think it would be nice if you had a few straw bales to use along with your alfalfa so you could compare them. Mainly since this is the first time trying it.
Anyway, good luck, and please keep us posted and lots a pictures. We do like pictures on this thread. :0) Jeanette
That's a great idea, Jeanette! I have two areas with the alfalfa bales up against one another (hopefully to protect against evaporation). There is plenty of room for more. What type of straw do you recommend? I don't even want to tell you what I paid for the alfalfa bales. They already had them loaded up in my truck; otherwise I wouldn't have bought them.
As you can see, I don't have much done yet, just waiting on them to get hot. I read on another site that I could add Black Kow to the tops of the bales and water it down into the bales. Is this necessary? Will it burn my plants? I am hoping to plant in 10 days or so.
When Kent started this forum he had a day by day menu to prepare the bales. Have you read it? You sound like you might have. At least you know what the goal is for your bales. Maybe Kent will come on here and help you. But with new bales you will be starting out fresh.
Regarding the straw, I don't know that the kind matters as much as make sure where ever you get them that they can tell you for sure no weed killers were used on the plants. Normally if you get them from places like Lowes, or HD, they won't know. Maybe you can find a farmer or someone in the country to get them from. Sorry, I don't know your area.
Yes, alfalfa is normally expensive. I got it cheap because a fellow was cleaning out his mother's barn so if I remember right, I got it for $1.50 a bale. Very cheap. Even straw normally is more than that. Sometimes you run into good deals. One thing I do not like is grass bales. A lot of time they advertise as Orchard grass. That is when they don't plant anything and just mow the stuff that is under the trees in the orchard. It usually is advertised as alfalfa/grass mix or Orchard Grass. I didn't like it. I had it one year.
Hope this helps. Try sending Kent a post and tell him about your bales. Also what to do with new ones if you don't know. He can tell you where to find his menu for them.
Quoting: Kent due to the possibility of recurring diseases, I have emptied my boxed in row and am adding new bales. I'll probably do this every two to three years. The old decomposed straw is an excellent addition to flower beds however so it's a win-win situation!
With the fusarium wilt and blight that I've attracted the last few years, ideally, I should do the same, but there's no way I'm shovelling all that compost, etc out.
That's one reason I'm just going with all hybrid tomatoes this year...Better Boys and Lemon Boys.
They did just fine last year.
I may plant a few Cherokee Purples, but they caught the wilt last year, too.
Kent I just read your post back there about your peppers. I will be interested to know if your plants you are growing from the seeds saved from last year will produce. 2 or 3 years ago I saved some seeds from a small melon that I had bought at the farmer's market. I sent some of the seeds to Russ and someone in Alaska I think it was. Well, all of us got beautiful plants, but no fruit!! The only thing I can think of is that so many of the produce we are getting now are from GMO (genetically engineered) seeds. Don't know what the GMO initials mean. Why else would that happen.
Please let us know how your pepper plants do. Jeanette
Yes, I am really interested to know if they are doing that to all the seeds so that people cannot save and trade seeds anymore. Remember, or did you hear about the farmers in India that planted the seed, had wonderful crops and then after planting the seed they saved from the year before they didn't have any production and couldn't afford to buy the GMO seeds for new crops. Wiped out villages.
I'm going to try strawbale gardening this year! I'm really excited, I have 4 bales that I started a couple weeks ago and are hopefully cooking away. I was planning on making a couple more raised beds for my garden but started reading about using the strawbales and thought it sounded like a great idea.
Jnette , I'm jumping through my skin like a toad trying to get things together for the trip back to Georgia . I'm taking 3 Celebrity and a Beefmaster that I started from a sucker last October . It has 50 blooms and 10 toms on it . Thanks to Gym girl , It is in a E bucket and doing great . Was going to send it home with my boy yesterday but he didn't have enough room in his truck with the ddog cage . Whoopie , I get to keep it and other stuff .
Spring is coming your way , so get ready to plant your goodies . Hugs
I leave Sun . the 1st and stop in Houston to see GymGirl and Bubba , two wonderful friends I met here on D G a few years ago . Maybe Bubba will have his wife there and I can see her also .
It's 1,200 miles from my house here to home , but will only stop to kick back in the van for a little rest . We don't get in a hurry .I don't like to drive in to home at night so will time it to get there early in the morning . First thing to do is unload the small chest freezer we carry back and forth. It went out on us a few years ago , so we use it to carry frozen food . It's much better than ice chests .We just leave it in the cargo trailer.
Jnette , it's a five cubit foot chest freezer that went out on me and had it to haul off in our cargo trailer . I got the bright idea to pack it when we moved back and forth to Texas and it worked great . Much food , and stayed frozen .It's the way to go and will add some frozen water in milk jugs if there is room .Don't really need it , everything was frozen hard , but was only on the road three days .
Years ago , My ex and I moved mobile homes nationwide . We have gone from S Carolina to Calif .or vice versa with freezers that were still frozen when we got there. No problem , we were on the road from five to seven days without electricity. Just don't open them to check them .If we were going to stop off and visit anyone for a day or two , we can start out with "hot ice " in the freezer to be sure of success .
Thanks for the welcome! I'm hoping to give a good try at growing cucumber in the bales this year. I've never had good luck with them but I'm hoping that this method with them off the ground will help with the bugs and things. Zucchini as well. I've not had one zucchini to harvest in the past 2 yrs due to the squash bugs and vine borers. Before that, I couldn't give them away. Already have some started in my greenhouse, now to wait till it's safe to put them out!
Hello everyone! Thanks to Kent, I'm trying my first SBG this year and am so excited! Going to pick up my bales this morning and get them placed and watered today. It's supposed to rain here for the next 3 days so I'm thinking I won't have to water when it's raining, just put the ammonium nitrate on top? Going to start with tomatoes, zucchini, squash and green/string beans.
I love fresh , hot yeast donuts . I eat three or four every year or two . Time is getting close .
Hi Russ , you know my little chihuahua , Pepper . Had to take him to emergency vet 11:00pm last night . It's his heart . Cost almost as much as the whole trip to Colorado .He's home now but lifetime of medication ahead . He still thinks he's a pit bull .
Will get the last four toms planted tomorrow .
Digger; that hurts. sorry to hear of that misfortune. He's our camp guard.
I'm not as far along on the toms yet. I have a doz. up about 4" and more I hope about to sprout. I have moved the cattle panels this year, had a lot of BER last year. Thought something else could take advantage of all that old straw and grass in that spot. Still deciding where to put everything. We have had warmer weather all winter and all my fruit trees have blossomed and now we are having 27-32 degree nights. May be another year with no fruit.
Just have to be satisfied with being later than my Southern neighbors. lol
He's home and feels ok. I have to take him to my regular vet in a day or two for further study . He's housebroken , goes in circles for attention to go out , so the meds don't sneak up on him with accidents .
He did a great job keeping tigers and elephants away from the camp , didn't he ?
Yes , jnette and enjoyed every minute with Russ and Barb . Just wish the river had been lower so we could have dredged . Found a little gold and sent it home with them . It wasn't enough to divide and Russ worked hard for every speck of it .
well Jeanette I'd go and do it again. But like Sally said, wish the river had been more than a little lower. We would probably have a lot more fun/gold. Barb and I are both a year older and for some reason my like to seems to be bigger than my ambition. And I think I can safely say the same for Barb. Her back and hips seem to hurt more this year.
And yes it's back to the real world.
In addition to the garden, I've added some chickens to the mix, in hopes of selling some eggs this winter and putting that aside along with the nickle can money I pick up, while walking the road shoulders. got to save up you know, for the next big trip.
Hey you haven't sent me a name for one of the chickens. Now I think I have the one that you could name, an I wouldn't forget which one it was. I ordered 25 Red Sexlinks but one of those appears to be a Partridge Plymouth Rock, so she may wonder why her feathers are different. ha ha. Can't call her what I do the broilers, which will soon all be in the freezer. " POOPERS" Yeah you get the idea. I think that is all they do. However next Monday they will be 2 months old and they are already 8 & 9 lbs. We better like chicken HUH!!!
We have had great weather for all the fruit trees to blossom but now the spring freezes have set in, last night it got down to 21 degrees and I see a lot of leaves that turned black.
Some people got to thinking that winter was over and had their tomatoes out, yup now their toms are over and winter is still here.
Mine are still in the window and I still have some that I hope will sprout yet.
When the garden gets going, I hope to have great pictures to share.
How can I name the chicken until I see a picture of it? Male, female? Can't remember the breed you said it was? That might help. Might know what color it is then.
How are Barb's eyes? Does she have cataracts? If they are bad Medicare would pay for the surgery to remove them and replace the lens if necessary. I and everyone I know that has had the surgery thinks it turned out great.
I waited to plant my tomato seeds until last week. Every year I have started them way too soon. Last year I put them out and it froze them that night. Had to go buy new plants. They are up now and working on the first true leaves.
We have our last freeze tonight so will cover my two toms I got from Gymgirl in Houston , on the way back to Georgia . The others are waiting to go into e-buckets . Hay bales are like hens teeth to find close by so may have to skip them this year . Drought messed up everything . What hay I see advertised is way south of us and Expensive . The mulch hay is full of johnson grass and no way will I bring that into my yard . I'll put out a coupla bell pepper to chop and freeze for cooking and try watermelon , canalope . That's all .
Digger, you say that so matter of factly. That you are having your last freeze tonight and that's that. How do you know that? LOL, I always thought that was up to Mother Nature and who knows what she has in store for us.
I am going to check my alfalfa bales I used last year and if they are solid enough I am going to get some black plastic and cover them to heat them up and then use them again this year.
If I can't use those I am going to use buckets too. The problem is they take so much soil mix and it is so expensive. I am not doing a lot of tomatoes, Think I planted about 2 dozen seeds. But am not going to use them all. I have a dozen different ones and planted 2 of each. All but 3 came up so I poked another seed in each of those plugs.
Our part of Georgia has a late freeze every year after Easter, from time immortal . It always waits until Everything is in full bloom ,or on the wane . . Dogwoods are dropping the leaves and we are 10° cooler than 20 miles away , in the flatter land . Our dogwoods are two to three weeks later than there too .Very dependable .
Hey Guys! Im in and out of here just reading away! Didnt have much input 'cause Ive not been able to find any square bales here at all! Sally was right abought the drought here for the past couple of years scaring the hay farmers into "Squirreling" away any hay they make! With all the early warmth this year I had hoped that there would be some early bales and lots of them, but everyone here is Round baling and storing them. Ive heard that they fear another bad drought because of all the early "Summer" weather so far. So Im still hoping to find some old bales somewhere, but so far no luck! Poooooh!!
Sally Im looking forward to this weekend! You and Johnny have a safe trip down and I'll see you Friday! DING DANG IT!! I just remembered I left my camera at my Mom's , 125 miles away! NO photos of this weekend waaaaah!!
Thanks for the answers Digger & Kent! I watered good anyway and glad I did as the rain went around us...I also put soaker hoses in.
Kent: My husband, Woody knows Jimmy but not very well as he was a few years behind him in school. Knew his Dad though! lol.. I'm originally from Raleigh so I'm a transplant here.
A friend of mine boxed in the middle row for me. I thought I might put all the "leftovers" in there after the season is over. Hopefully we had our last frost/freeze last night and my bales should be ready to plant in a couple weeks.
The "leftovers" as you call them work very well the following year. By the time next season rolls around you will have a box containing a very dark, rich, worm infested planting medium. Voice of experience here! I've been using those leftovers for about three years now. This year I emptied it all out and started with fresh straw bales. The leftovers went into my raised bed vegetable garden and flowers beds. Good stuff.
I scraped my leftovers up and put them in big tubs for potting soil and am very stingy with it .
My son thought he could rot a round bale , but it didn't work so well . I'll tear it up and put (pack ) it in contained compost bin , then start on it from scratch .Should do the trick and give lots of compost . We'll see .
Yes , it is soft down through the middle, but a long way from the outside . He put the A Sulfate on it and set a sprinkler on top but needed lots more water over longer time . He just lets it set there now . Dumb kid .
My bales have been aging for going on 5 weeks now but they don't seem like they are very decomposed. I tried to dig through one to get an opening so I could get my hand in and see if it was hot and I couldn't hardly get into the bales. Shouldn't they be easier to get into by now? For the first couple of weeks I watered them with strong chicken poo tea for the nitrogen and have kept them moist since. Can't find A. nitrate, etc. around here. Should I try something else on them, is it too close to time to transplant in them now to hit them with anything else or is this how they should be? I do have a lot of grass growing on them but no mushrooms. Do you usually have to take a knife or something to make a well or should it pull apart easier? Help, I don't think I'm doing this right.
Sound like they're still not decomposed enough yet. Add some more nitrogen and water very deeply every day for the next few days. If you plant too soon and they heat up they WILL fry your plants. I have experience in that department when first starting bale gardening!
Well they missed us. We had a lot of wind, heavy rain and thunder boomers. A few trees went down in the city but out here were fine. a small one touched down within 4 blocks of our daughter's place. Took some of the roof off the hospital and there are a lot of trees down as well as quite a few of the wind power towers just north of their town. Their house was spared though. So no damage for our family to clean up in order to have a home. She said the emergency crews are really busy using their street for emergency route.
We will be happy with the rain we got, as we needed a good rain. just not all that went with it. I'll be out in the garden soon, but we could still have another freeze, so I'm not rushing it yet.
I am going to try to get out today and see if the bales are solid enough to plant in for another year. They are alfalfa. I had the best flavored tomatoes last year ever and don't know if it was because of that fact, or what. We had a very late season as June was sooooo cold and wet. Nothing tried to grow in June. I had planted my tomatoes, but the bales probably were just cold and the roots didn't even grow. The plants just sat there.
If they are in good enough shape to use, I am going to cover them with black plastic and try to warm them up. Then I got the idea of maybe planting the tomatoes in them thru the plastic and leave it on there. Whaddaya think?
I just found this thread. I wished I would have run a crossed it last month. I am doing a straw bale garden this year for the first time and have been researching the process on the web since the beginning of March. I have just about finished prepping and will be planting tomato, pepper, and cucumber seedlings in the next few days. I have attached a pic to let you all see where I am at in the process. I have been away from vegetable gardening for a few years. I used to add a mixture of bone meal, lime, 10-10-10 fertilizer and Epsom salt to my tomatoes and peppers when I planted seedlings in the ground. I haven't made up my mind to exactly what I am going to do with the straw bales. I planned on fertilizing with miracle grow on a regular basis after I transplant the seedlings. If you folks have any suggestions they would be greatly appreciated. I am glad I found this thread . Thank you kindly.
LostFrog wrote:Thank you for the reassurances. I wrapped the bales in plastic to retain more moisture and have put more nitrogen on them. Hopefully that will help. I don't want to take the chance and burn my plants.
I am new to straw bale gardening but I had the same problem. Mine never did heat up.
I would say for you 2 newbies that you better get some answers from some of the people who have been on here a while. Please don't go by what I said above llndmon. I have never wrapped mine before and it all depends on the condition of your bales, your weather wherever you live etc.
Kent, Doug, Russ, someone help these people. Jeanette
Thank you for the suggestion. I have been watering them every day since March 10th. I have a soaker hose that is layed over the top of each bale and every evening I let it run for a couple of hours. When I started the straw bales I watered for three days then I spread 1/2 cup of ammonium nitrate over each bale for three days and finished with 1/4 cup for three days. Watering in well after each application. I then added 1/2 cup of 10-10-10 fertilizer to each bale and continued watering everyday. It never seemed to heat up. The hay is breaking down so there is some composting going on just no discernible heat. My fear was that it would heat up after I planted my seedlings but it has been over a month now so I do not have that concern any longer. What I am interested to find out is your opinions on what is the best mixture of nutrients (fertilizer) to use when I transplant my seedlings.
I have always just used a slow release organic about 2-3 weeks after planting and that's all but Kent, the Chief Baleman here used to use liquid Miracle Gro every couple of weeks. In my experience they don't need any more water or fertilizer than planting in soil does.
The only other think I can think of is that you may not feel any heat, unless you can get your hand down into the bale. I never felt heat on the outer parts of a bale. If the hay feels soft and mushy even if you don't feel heat now they may have already heated up and started the decomposition. So if they have already got a little slimy/mushy inside they may already be ready.
I would think that in your area that that could be the case. but not actually putting my hand in the bale, I can't be sure. but it sounds like you have done every thing you were supposed to, to get them cooking.
If that is the case, make a couple holes in each bale about 4" to 5" deep, a little potting soil or compost along with each plant or seed which ever you are using. Water them and watch them grow. I don't think the mushrooms would be growing without some decomposition.
I wish you well friend.
You know Russ, it never dawned on me to tell her they wouldn't heat on the outside. Sorry. I definitely would use the Epsom Salts and slow release then after they get established I would go with a regular fertilizing schedule. Sorry Doug, just my way verses yours.
Do you guys know what kind of straw you have? i.e. oat, wheat, alfalfa, a mix, orchard grass? Sometimes that does make a difference regarding the fertilizer. Mainly on alfalfa I think. That has more nitrogen.
Thank you for your responses. I am using wheat straw. I was able to get my hand down in mine and did it several times since March 10th. Never did feel any heat but they are decomposing. I have know idea how long they had been setting before I purchased them. I just came to the conclusion that somewhere in the time the were baled and before they reached me the did their thing. Tomorrow will be planting day for me so I guess I will see how it goes. I will be around and let you all know how things are progressing.
One thing, I didn't even think of. wheat straw does have a feature that other straw does not. Wheat straw is used by many water gardeners. it seems to have the ability that as it decomposes in a stream of water, in a small pond, to help control algae. Seems to keep it from blooming and in turn forming that green slime on top of the water.
However I don't think that will affect the root system of your veggies, as that would be about the same as adding hydrogen peroxide. I believe you should still do okay.
Russ, do you know if Kent has planted his tomatoes yet? He is in NC also. Don't know how far from her. It is so hard for the rest of us to know how to advise you as far as when to plant since we are not familiar with your climate.
You don't have a zone on your information so don't know what to tell you. Not that the zones know all and tell all, but it does help. I thought the weather in NC was pretty moderate now.
Sally not really planning on it. Just getting away. The oldest son rented an 8 bedroom house right on the beach and our side of the family and our DIL's side is going. We may go deep sea fishing, don't know yet. The weather doesn't look great. Mostly in the mid 60's for the week. I'll make sure and tell Kent we ALL said hello! I'll try and get a pic of us to post.
I wouldn't think it would matter. I am going to use my last year's alfalfa bales. I checked them yesterday and they are kind of semi solid. LOL, do you know what that is? Anyway, I am hoping they will be just fine. If I have as good of flavor as I had last year, I will have to decide it is the alfalfa that is doing it. Like Suz said.
Could someone please give me the link for the first set of instructions for starting the strawbale garden. So many of the older links no longer work. I miss the beginners link that was at the top of the forum. I have so many people here at the senior citizens center that would like to have these simple instructions. Thanks Guys.
oops! Found it! Heading to Senior Citizens to give a little heads up on Strawbale gardening and hopefully new members for DG. It was so much fun the last time I talked to them about my gardening in bales,You should have seen their faces!! So many live in tiny subsidized apartments and had no idea that theycould have a garden of their very own in such a tiny space. They all have access to a small area in front of their homes that would accomodate 2 or even three bales, so Im going over there today to give them a heads up on what they can do to feed themselves and their neighbors! I Love it!!!
Hey straw balers! I've been so busy, I haven't had a chance to check in this year. I've been trying to keep up with Kent on FaceBook though.
I could only find 5 old square hay bales (my preference over straw) this year. It gets harder every year to locate the square ones as farmers use the big round bales more now. One fella gave us a couple of the decomposed old round bales (way smaller than the new) out of an abandoned field. We had to build more boxes around the beds to house the loose hay and pack it down as much as possible. We still have a couple more outer beds to build on the newer arched trellis to be finished.
We got rained out today and are now forecasting SNOW!! Good grief!
Wow Bev. Those are big! and difficult to work with. I think a lot of the farmers around here have gone back to the square ones. (Not square, oblong. There are some that ARE square and they too are hard to use because of their weight. Think they may be 4xr4)
I think even the farmers found the round ones hard to use. They have to have a forklift to move them or pick them up. If they were going to sell them the buyers had to have the forklift too. So, I think more are going back to the rectangle ones.
Some of the farmers would take the round ones out and unroll them the length, and then the cattle would all eat from that so it worked out good for them. But, it takes certain things to make them work.
They call the rectangular bales "square" around here. I've not seen any of the true square bales, but have heard of them. The big round bales are easier for the farmers to handle and store in their fields (wrapped) on the farms. They put up enough square bales for the barn-kept critters, but it is becoming more difficult to find help. So the small farms only put up what they can handle themselves. It's a sad situation.
They (meaning the farmers) here might also call the rectangle bales square, but it is confusing to me 'cause I can't handle the square ones. Too heavy. The rectangles are anywhere from 65 to 75 lbs I think, but the square are almost double that.
The biggest hay selling farm around here bales in the regular rectangle bales. He has about 6 or 8 pole buildings (covers) that are probably 60 to 80 feet wide and 100 feet or more long. And that is a REAL wild guess by me. Then the bales are stacked probably at least 15 feet high. He has big flatbed trucks with 2 trailers (state limit) coming in and hauling to the retailers and farmers. By summer they are all empty. This time of year he shreds and chops a lot so I am assuming that is for feed for the calves, or maybe pellets. Just guessing on all of this.
We went out and covered the alfalfa bales from last year with black plastic to heat them up and then ran the plastic down the middle too to kill the weeds. Took the hay off of the hosta bed and gee they look great. I covered them because I made the bed, about 18 inches high next to the house, late last fall and moved the hostas into it so they didn't have a good chance to put down roots. Didn't want them to freeze. And the Helebore in there was blooming under the hay. LOL Sure cool.
We had some local plant trading this week and I have a big cold frame and my carport full of plants waiting to be stuck in the ground. A friend that lives 40 miles west of us reported seeing snow already. I guess the snow warning is true...not a thing I can do now. I hope every green thing, and everybody, survives this 2-day snow/freeze deal!
Back again for year 2 of strawbale gardening! Does anyone use coffee grounds to condition or top dress your bales. I picked up about 15 pounds from Starbucks this morning. I have cabbage growing in last years bales and still trying to heat up the new bales with blood meal. Hubby built boxes to contain the bales, we used old pallets and they look nice and tidy now! Love to have any advice from you pros!
Sorry, I have not gardened either way with coffee grounds. I know they are good for the soil, and I would think for keeping slugs away because of the texture, but don't know about strawbale gardening with them. Also, don't recall anyone else mentioning them. Hopefully someone will come on and tell you.
BTW, do you have any idea about nutrients with them?
DoxeeMom, It sounds like your family has been up to the same gardening projects as ours! I need to get a couple more boxes built for my loose hay to be finished! I've used Starbucks coffee grounds for the last few years in the garden, compost bin, and in the mix I usually add to my bales. The worms love the stuff and will get into the bags of grounds if I leave them sitting too long by the compost bin.
DoxeeMom, I didn't catch your spelling error until you brought it to attention, lol (knew what you meant). Now I have images of a musician turning cart-wheels across the lawn, hehe.
I make a mixture of all my resources, so it is a little different every year. Primarily it consists of compost, composted horse manure, green sand, blood meal, bone meal, charcoal (biochar), burn barrel ashes (paper & yard waste), and the Starbucks. I dump all that I have in a big pile and keep mixing it until a uniform color, then spread across the hay and water it in. I'll keep applying the blood meal until after the hay heats up.
I think everyone has their own method and do what they can with what they have. There's no right/wrong, just whatever works to get the bales cooked and ready. I do believe that in some areas like mine, covering the bales at least on the sides, keeps them from drying out so quickly. The boxes really work for us (used black plastic around them a few times, too).
I'm using composted shredded leaves in place of potting soil around the transplants in the hay, too...since I have so much.
I had the big compost tumbler and it isn't all it's cracked up to be . My best friend wanted one sooo bad and I told her it wasn't worth it , but she wanted it so we made a trade . I don't think she uses it .
I keep an old margarine tub by the coffee pot and dump all my grounds in there , filters and all , dump it in my compost pile a coupla times a week and hit it with the water hose . I layered wood chips with 30-0-0 fertilizer and watered well with each layer, last summer . Had compost and planted collards , brocolli , cauliflower seven months later. I kept it pretty wet those seven months .I have another one started , both are in a 9 ' circle , 2 ' deep , held with plastic lattice . Don't remember if I posted a picture in this forum , but will again . I promise you , it works better than the tumbler and can do a ton more compost .
Oh I love my Tumbler Composter!! I didn tuse it much during the Winter, it still has the yard clippings in it from last Fall, but I do use it in the Spring and Summer! I load it up with chicken manure from the hen house and grass clippings . I even added shredded newspapers and office shreds. Will have to go out and get it started really soon!
So It was a good Trade Digger, LOL!!!!!
I primarily use the old school compost bins, 3'x3'x3' (1 cubic yard). No matter how much stuff I put in it, it never stays full...it decomposes fairly quickly. The tumbler is good for fast compost, but you have to stay with it everyday for a couple weeks each time, or at least that's my experience with it! I'm too lazy to use it unless I'm desperate for compost, I guess.
I dump all my kitchen scraps and coffee grounds into a small bin outside the kitchen door, then carry it to the big compost bin by the garden every few days. Good stuff!!
Ooooh we have thunder, lightening, rains, ... Oh my! ... but the rain barrels are full now. No work outside today for me!
Better run, power is flickering again!
Oofie , so glad you like it . I never had any green stuff to add to it so sounds like it has a good home . BTW, Johnny cooked brisket on the grill (bbq) and it was great .
How are the babies ? And P P ? Sending a d-mail so as not to hijack the thread .
Here is a picture of what I call my, "Grow Tower."
Last fall I stomped the bottom rope bin full of leaves and let them sit out over the winter.
They cooked down about 3", enough room to add some soil. I have a grafted tomato
in the rope bin with about 12 different flowers and veggies planted above.
Right now they are covered with my umbrella greenhouses, waiting for warmer weather.
I have set up a drip system to allow watering twice a day when and if the weather warms.
I grow tomatoes in straw bales. I set 8' high poles at end of a row, string strands of wire between the poles and tie the plants to the wire. Last year I did not prune suckers and had a jungle. Any suggestions on how many suckers (if any) to leave for best results.