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Strawbale Gardening: Growing tomatoes in straw bales

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Forum: Strawbale GardeningReplies: 14, Views: 717
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melody

melody
Benton, KY
(Zone 7a)


February 19, 2002
12:42 AM

Post #23446

Has anyone done this??

My mom has a brown thumb and is wanting to grow a couple of tomatoes at her new condo.It's on the ground floor and has a little terrace.She would never be able to keep a tomato plant alive in a pot,but I was hoping that someone would know of this procedure.It makes sense,as the bales would retain moisture and drain well too. I figure I'll go over and fix whatever is needed and let her take it from there,but does anyone know if I put soil in the straw,or just plant it?
Horseshoe
Efland, NC
(Zone 7a)

February 19, 2002
2:06 PM

Post #214240

Melody, I've never done it but have read a bit on it. I remember the writer put some compost down in the bale (made a little hole I believe) and the put in the plant. By watering every so often the nutrients in the compost would spread thru-out the bale.
I think since I have stawbales laying around I'll give it a try this yr (I love experimenting!)
If anyone knows any more definite info I'd like to hear it!
Tim10
Desert Hot Springs, CA
(Zone 10b)

February 19, 2002
3:02 PM

Post #214277

Hi, Horseshoe. I'm trying to find enough straw bales to use as material for bulding walls for a small guest house. It's an inexpensive way of building super-high R-value buildings. I live in the California Desert where nary a straw bale is to be found. The point is "one man's junk is another man's treasure." Ah, to have straw bales lying around! Maybe I should use the one I've been experimenting with to grow tomatoes instead. Who ever heard of importing straw? I would have to order a truck load from Northern CA at considerable expense. Sand I got plenty of. Tumbleweeds, too.
Brook
Richmond, KY
(Zone 6b)

February 19, 2002
3:29 PM

Post #214292

>Who ever heard of importing straw? <

Actually, Tim, almost all the straw found in central Kentucky is imported. This is tobacco country, so straw has to be trucked in by the landscape people.

Given your conditions, wouldn't rammed earth make more sense?
oblambert

(Zone 6a)

February 19, 2002
4:44 PM

Post #214333

Melody...why do you say your Mom could not keep a tomato plant alive in a pot? I would think a bale of straw would be messy. Container gardening in a pot is soooo easy...once planted, just water and tie up:) Of if a bush tomato type, just water. Nothing easier than that:)

Owen

melody

melody
Benton, KY
(Zone 7a)


February 19, 2002
6:09 PM

Post #214371

Owen,You don't know my mom. The green thumb gene passed her by.
About the only thing that she's ever been able to grow successfully is mint.(heh heh heh)Regular moisture is a concept that she hasn't been able to grasp in 72 years.I've tried containers with her and it's a disaster.I was hoping that the straw would retain enough to withstand her watering habits.We'd deal with the straw mess if it would work. Since she sold the farm,we live about 45 miles away instead of 10.Every other year,it was no big deal to keep her supplied with tomatoes...this one will be a challenge. And she loves the heirlooms/OP ones so much.
Brook
Richmond, KY
(Zone 6b)

February 19, 2002
6:19 PM

Post #214376

Well cripes, Mel. She's only an hour away. What you do is figure on taking a bushel of produce on each of your weekly visits.

Waddayamean you ain't planning weekly visits? Who are you kidding? :-)

Terry

Terry
Murfreesboro, TN
(Zone 7a)


February 19, 2002
6:20 PM

Post #214378

Mel, another idea: if you could build her a small raised bed, string a drip hose through it, and put it on a timer, would that help? I can relate to your mom's dilemma - I don't have houseplants because I can never remember to water them. (But tomatoes - I DO remember to water them, LOL.)

melody

melody
Benton, KY
(Zone 7a)


February 19, 2002
11:01 PM

Post #214522

Brook,I thought you knew by now that my mom has a more active social life than me. Hence the watering delimma. I have to call her at least a week in advance and she pencils me in her appointment book...I usually catch her as she zooms by HERE!She's in Frankfort this week on Retired Teacher business. But I digress...

She has a nice little yard area and there are some perinnials left by a former tennant.There is a small storage shed and I was going to put the tomatoes along the wall of it.It's a nice comfortable atmosphere, and she has her bird feeders and patio table there.I was hoping that the straw bales would hold moisture and overcome her erratic watering style.We're going to find out anyway. Sounds like something that might ought ought to be experimented with.

And yes...I'll take produce to her,but she actually _wants_ to try to grow tomatoes this year for some unknown reason.
The yard itself is pretty much hard clay and I would have to amend it so much that the straw bales look really tempting.I'm trying to get her what she wants without breaking my back in the process.
Tim10
Desert Hot Springs, CA
(Zone 10b)

February 23, 2002
5:04 AM

Post #216456

Hey Melody, I considered rammed earth, but that would have to be imported, too. Nada but sand here and it would have to be steel reinforced since I live about 1/2 mile from the San Andreas Fault! I guess I'll stay with wood frame.
oblambert

(Zone 6a)

February 23, 2002
4:45 PM

Post #216625



This message was edited Saturday, Feb 23rd 5:30 PM
Horseshoe
Efland, NC
(Zone 7a)

February 23, 2002
11:18 PM

Post #216804

So, by the way...anyone get any more info on planting 'maters in straw? I'd like to try it.

melody

melody
Benton, KY
(Zone 7a)


February 24, 2002
1:43 PM

Post #217122

I'm going to try it anyway. My own theory is to wet the bale down good and let it set for a day or two before putting compost inside the middle.I'm guessing about a gallon.

The only thing concerning me is how hot the bale gets on the inside.Anyone who has broken open a damp bale of straw that has been siting in the sun knows what I'm talking about.It's pretty warm.

It's not like I'm depending on this for my harvest and Mom will have tomatoes regardless,so what the heck? I certianly don't have any lack of seedlings either.

paulgrow

paulgrow
Allen Park, MI
(Zone 6a)

February 24, 2002
3:40 PM

Post #217181

Melody
heres an excellent link to a site on container gardening

Paul

http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/scripts/VH032
Tim10
Desert Hot Springs, CA
(Zone 10b)

February 27, 2002
6:08 AM

Post #218764

Melody

I would think that a wet bale of straw would heat up like compost and adding compost would only make it worse in a warm climate. Maybe it works well in a cool climate. I would like someone to try it. I'll pass. It will be in the 90's next month or two anyway.

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