Strawbale Gardening (part 7)

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

I think this is how you start a new one Donna. Yeah, we are out here in the sticks with our dial-ups and it does
take a long time doesn't it?

Kent, let me know if I did it wrong.

Past discussions:

Part 1: http://davesgarden.com/forums/t/584625/

Part 2: http://davesgarden.com/forums/t/590925/

Part 3: http://davesgarden.com/forums/t/598673/

Part 4: http://davesgarden.com/forums/t/614124/

Part 5: http://davesgarden.com/forums/t/631772/

Part 6: http://davesgarden.com/forums/t/680745/

An invitation to put your bale garden on the map
http://www.frappr.com/strawbalegardeners


his message was edited Feb 25, 2007 9:46 PM

This message was edited Feb 26, 2007 4:22 PM

This message was edited Feb 26, 2007 4:39 PM

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Well, it looks ok to me. Now I guess I have to go back to the other one and post to this link?

Jeanette

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

LOL, none of you told me if I did it wrong. Jeanette


Edited to add:

Thanks Shoe.

This message was edited Feb 21, 2007 1:27 AM

Fairmont, WV(Zone 6a)

I was wondering...why don't root veggies do well in bales? Was contemplating it for this year, since my 'maters went bananas in bales last year. :)

Bethelridge, KY(Zone 6a)

phuggins,

Most root crows don't develop deep enough roots. When planted in straw bales, the top of the bales dry out first and roots crops don't get the water they need. I tried onions last year and they started out fine but in the hot weather they just wilted and died.

Hornick, IA(Zone 4b)

This is actually a question; In other words straw bale gardens require more water?
More than in ground that is.

Tonasket, WA(Zone 5a)

I was planning to place a soaker hose along the top of the hay/straw bales, won't that work?? for moisture purposes.

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

I think several people did that Donna and it worked out well. Maybe someone of them will tell you.

Jeanette

Bethelridge, KY(Zone 6a)

Yes, it is very important to soak your bales every day. Water them throughly until the water runs out from under the bales. They dry out pretty fast.

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

I only soaked mine every 2nd or 3rd day and they did well. Only problem I had was the slugs. And my eggplant was a disappointment. The plant was gorgeous and it put on fruit nicely. The fruit grew well but never got ripe. It was dark purple at first then turned green as it got larger. I thought it must be a green variety and was tagged wrong so I picked a large one after a long while and it was nowhere near ripe. Anyone know what could have caused that? I love eggplant would like to try it again but I don't want to waste the space if I can't harvest the stuff.

Also, does anyone know if there is such a thing as a yellow cherry tomato?

Thumbnail by CajuninKy
Hornick, IA(Zone 4b)

I think Farmerdill would give a good answer on the yellow cherry tomato. I do know there are yellow pear tomatoes. and they are small like the cherry. just pear shape.
This will be a new experience for me. And I plan to give it a good try. I really like the idea of the tomatos being up off the ground. not having to do a lot of stoop gardening. My joints don't bend like they used to, and I've had to have back surgery. This sounds like a great way to have all the maters up off the ground and in a nice row. I have to give Kent a big hand for posting this Strawbale forum. I still manage to do most gardening in the ground if I can keep things contained in a small area, where I can get on my knees and mound up around the sweetpotatos and such. and I tie up the Cukes and muskmellons, on trellis. To make things as easy as possable.
Russ

Hornick, IA(Zone 4b)

I think Farmerdill would give a good answer on the yellow cherry tomato. I do know there are yellow pear tomatoes. and they are small like the cherry. just pear shape.
This will be a new experience for me. And I plan to give it a good try. I really like the idea of the tomatos being up off the ground. not having to do a lot of stoop gardening. My joints don't bend like they used to, and I've had to have back surgery. This sounds like a great way to have all the maters up off the ground and in a nice row. I have to give Kent a big hand for posting this Strawbale forum. I still manage to do most gardening in the ground if I can keep things contained in a small area, where I can get on my knees and mound up around the sweetpotatos and such. and I tie up the Cukes and muskmellons, on trellis. To make things as easy as possable.
Russ Had to double check plant files think this is what you want.Family: Solanaceae (so-lan-AY-see-ay) (Info)
Genus: Lycopersicon (ly-koh-PER-see-kon) (Info)
Species: lycopersicum (ly-koh-PER-see-kum) (Info)
Cultivar: Yellow Cherry

Olympia, WA(Zone 7b)

Yes, Cajun, there are some very good yellow cherry tomatoes. Galina and Gold Nugget are two in particular that I have grown and can recommend. Both put out a lot of fruit, and Gold Nugget is also very early. Yellow Currant is even smaller than a cherry tomato, and is very sweet and prolific. Gold Nugget is a medium-sized plant, and the other two are indeterminate. Yellow Currant just sprawls everywhere, and can use some pruning if space is an issue.

I've grown all three in large containers, but not in straw bales yet.

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

Thanks for the info. I will check into them asap. I have peptic ulcers and the yellow tomatoes are much easier on me, being less acidic. I like cherry tomatoes so because I can just pop them into my mouth like candy.

South/Central, FL(Zone 9a)

CajuninKy...
My eggplants did the same thing.(turned streaky green after purple) And some of the fruit looked deformed. The plant is beautiful, and big, with lots of blooms. Maybe someone can tell us what we are doing wrong. Everything else did well.

~Lucy

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

That is really strange. I don't grow eggplant but I would have thought they do just the opposite. Start out green and then turn purple when they are ripe. Maybe there are some eggplant experts in the crowd. They are beautiful. Too bad you can't use them in a bouquet.

Jeanette

Buffalo, WV(Zone 7a)

Has anyone used polymer crystals in the bales to conserve water? Me and another DG member are getting ready to host a Watersorb polymer crystal co op and I'm wanting to use the crystals in the bales so I won't have to water so much. We have a cistern and have to haul our water. Please let me know your thoughts about using these in bales. Thanks! Oh, feel free to join our co op. I'll be posting it in the Co-op forum soon.

Lana

Olympia, WA(Zone 7b)

Cajun - instead of hijacking the straw bale thread, I sent you a D-mail...

Bobby

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Lana, I have been in on this almost from the beginning, and I think I can feel pretty certain when I say that to save you the time of going thru all of the parts looking for your information, that the Polymers have not been tried. At least nobody has written about them. That is the nice thing though about this, you can try them and report to us how they work. If you have enough bales, try them on some and not on others for a test. Good luck with your coop, Jeanette

Buffalo, WV(Zone 7a)

Thanks, Jeanette!

Lana

San Jose, CA(Zone 9b)

Jeannette, you did it Just Right! (Thanks for the new thread).

We're in year two of our bales, or rather, continuing over what passes for "winter" here in Redwood City, with a couple of bright lights chard plants that have not bolted nor gone bitter, but are staying tasty for continual cut-and-come-again delights; spinach, and various greens. The slugs are making it up the more decomposed bales, this year. humph.

I also have a garden diary, and would love to read more notes from other straw-bale gardeners - if you keep a diary/journal of your garden here at DG, please sound off; I'd love to see a broader show-and-tell. It makes a great place to put photos.

To Lana, who asked about moisture crystals, Yes, I think they'd work handsomely, and wonder why we haven't put them in yet... the only drawback I can imagine is that they'd sift down into the bottom of the bale as they dry; but as roots grow towards them, that shouldn't make an appreciable problem. Doing a coop purchase of them is a great idea, and we'd join you if not for this 3/4 of a jar on the shelf here...

Cajun in KY, I'm sorry to hear of your ulcers; the yellow pear tomatoes are low-acid, which is one of the reasons folks mention either loving or hating them. We love 'em. Also we grew an orangey prolific cherry-sized tomato called a Tomato | Riesentraube | Lycopersicon | lycopersicum - we had seeds packed for 2003 from the Cook's Garden, that like all other tomatoes didn't grow well for us in San Francisco, but did very very well in the warmth of Redwood City, and are not too acidy, by very tasty. A nice addition to sauces, as well (I mentioned capital-p Prolific, yes?)






Starkville, MS(Zone 7b)

New here guys and new to bale gardening. I am in central Mississippi, and wheat straw is scarce to non existent. I've done alot of research and Bermuda grass hay has been mentioned as an alternative. I know about the increase in weeds due to the grass sprouting. I can't find anywhere in the threads related to bale gardening where anyone has shared their experience with Bermuda grass. Maybe I'll be the pilot case. I do have a question about herbs in bales though. I am hoping to mix some basil and oregano in with my tomato plants...maybe even a few bales with just herbs. The tomatoes will be going right into the bale, but the herbs will get a shallow layer of potting mix on top of the bales to call home. Any info on herbs in bales would be greatly appreciated.

San Jose, CA(Zone 9b)

Welcome, Dbarbrady!
Bermuda grass is a noxious weed in this corner of the world; someone bales it as feed near you? Eek. Seems like it should work as long as it doesn't send out runners.
Other feed-grain hay has been known to work for others.

Basil and oregano work very well in bales together with tomatoes; they still do that companion plants who love one another roots-intertwining and thriving thing. If you've never grown a curly-leaf basil along with the basic genovese, I recommend it as a nice large productive mild-tasting throw-it-in-the-salad as well as the tomato-sauce type of basil.

The herbs and smaller plants we tucked in our bales last year did appreciate having the soil from their starting pots to help hold nutrients near the roots; just tuck the soil into the bale when you plant the starts. A little added soil, or a layer of soil on top of a bale, like we did with one bale last year, goes very well.

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Thanks Ru. But, we haven't heard anything from Kent since I started this so I hope I didn't hurt his feelings. Didn't mean to step on any toes.

Jeanette

Wake Forest, NC

Jeanette: are you kidding me? I just happen to be in the muster room returning all the papers I served tonight, so I don't have much time. You did a great job! It's been a crazy week for me so not much face time online. See ya'll back soon.

Kent

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

RuTemple

Does the tomato you mentioned have a trade name I can look for?

San Jose, CA(Zone 9b)

CajuninKY: Yes, it's the Reisenstraube cherry tomato, or in the Plant Scout files here:
http://davesgarden.com/pf/go/2780/
There are 3 places listed that have the seeds for sale; it grows well from the seeds (we did starts before putting them in the ground) - these two plants we did in the flowerbed and not in bales last year. They're indeterminate, which means every end is happy to be a growing and bearing tip; they'd go well on a Serious trellis. We did tripods around them and they'd have been happier with something yet more sturdy to hold onto. That bunch of tomatoes in the photo at the plant scout files? the very bunches grow in bunches.

Jeannette, if you could do one thing and edit to add a link to the first of the Strawbale gardening threads and to the Frappr.com map in that first message on the thread, that tends to be a Useful and Substantial reference.

Kent - I'm always sorry to hear a fellow in your line of work having to be so busy; thanks for being on the job!

on Eggplants: I'm updating some notes in my DG journal from last year; and thinking ours grew some nice little eggplants, but they sure seemed small and the plant scrawny. I think this year a test plant goes into the ground as well as one into a bale. I'm not sure whether they wanted more heat, or more fertilizer, or if they just didn't like being so nearby the zucchini, that tried a couple of times to shade it out.
hm.



Starkville, MS(Zone 7b)

Thanks for the feedback on the herbs RuTemple. Yes, Bermuda grass is used for feed here. It's a high quality feed for horses. It can be pricey too. Mississippi is in a bit of a hay shortage right now. We had drought conditions for most of the growing season last year. I still hope to find the elusive wheat straw before planting season.

Buffalo, WV(Zone 7a)

Thanks, RuTemple! The crystals shouldn't dry up enough to fall down thru the bail but hopefully will keep me from having to water daily.

Lana

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Glad to hear from you Kent. Sorry you are so busy. Probably the weekend traffic? Hope to hear from you soon.

Jeanette

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Lana, do you think it will take many of the crystals? How expensive do you think it would be? Hopefully with the coop that would keep the cost down.

Jeanette

Buffalo, WV(Zone 7a)

Well, you use about a tsp in a good size pot so it might take a Tbsp or 2 for a bale. The co op is about $4.26 a lb with a minimum of 3 lbs. Shipping would be flat rate, 5lbs and under would cost $4.05 plus delivery confirmation. 6-15lbs is 8.10 shipping plus d/c. Will store about forever so will last you years. Also, check this out http://www.stormymoonfarm.com/fundraiser/aboutus.htm They make cool ties with the crystals and ship them to our troops in Iraq to keep them cool in the desert heat.

Lana

San Jose, CA(Zone 9b)

On the crystals; you can also put a few into a hatband, wet it and it's marvelous in the heat. We're still working on year 3 or 4 with one little jar of the crystals, including the time I spilled the top 1/2 inch of the jar in the back by accident (you should have seen the heap, the first next rain)!

I'm definitely going to add some to our bales; especially for the lettuces where we plunk in some topsoil on top of the bales.

Lise has put some sprouting potatoes into a bale; has anyone else grown potatoes in their bales this past year? A few carrots I grew came out green, which means that sun gets down in there -- that's fine for carrots, but would mean poison in a potato (being a nightshade and all; and advice from my farmer's-son father). I'm thinking of laying down a sun barrier on the top of the bale; likely cloth rather than extra heating plastic, but wonder what other folks are doing and think about it all.

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Ru, other than coming out green, how were the carrots? Shape, size etc.? That was my doubts about the potatoes. That there wouldn't be enough room in the bale for them to get any size. Come to think of it, why do you say that the carrots coming out green means that sun is getting down to them? That is very curious. I have never grown carrots as you can tell.

Jeanette

San Jose, CA(Zone 9b)

HI Jeanette, these are a type of carrot that are normally orange; the sun getting down through the straw to them meant they turned green (as a carrot top sticking out of the dirt also will) with chlorophyll, because they could--and that tells me they were getting enough UV from the sun to trigger that response. it was fine and okay in the carrots (and fun in a salad, since the middle of the carrot is still orange), but it would be problematic in a potato, where that green chlorophyll response also would signal the not-good-to-eat nightshade effect in the skins.

Size, shape and tastiness of the carrots were just fine, even though they were in the bale that the neighboring green zebra stripe tomatoes decided to exuberantly lean in and take over (above-bale)...the onions that got lost that way last year are still in the bale and doing okay, amusingly enough!

You've *gasp* never grown carrots? Yoicks!
When I was a kid, my father discovered he had a knack for making up stories, and so there's the Two Legged Carrot, whose ambition was to walk around the whole garden, that has rattled around in my back brain my whole life. Some day, when you are looking through a bunch of carrots, you'll find one with two legs, and know its True. In any case, when he made 4' square plots for each of us kids and let us think we were doing the work (heh) of gardening our own plots, I always had a row or two of carrots...
Hm. Come to think on it, none of the bale carrots split to multi-leggedness; usually that's caused by lumpy dirt.

"Onward!" squeaked the parsnip.

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Ru I have seen a lot of 2 legged carrots but have never grown any. I have never lived anywhere that would not have been loads of work to "sift" the soil to get a nice straight carrot. All of them would have had at least 2 or 3 legs. LOL

I can't even imagine growing carrots in 4" pots. Altho, they do have short stubby little carrot seeds in the catalogs now. That would work. Wish I had a grandkid or 2 to do that with. LOL (didn't mean the seeds were short and stubby). Oh well, it's late.

Jeanette

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Good Heavens Ru, it is later than I thought. I thought you were growing carrots in 4" pots. I just re-read your post and see you had 4 ' plots. LOL I was going to rush right out and buy some carrot seeds for my 4" pots. Good night.

Jeanette

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

LOL, Ruth, cool map. I haven't looked at it in a long time so you have really gotten a lot of bale gardens posted. Looks good.

Did you know there is a limit to how many edits you can make in a day? Well, I found out. With Shoe's help I learned how to do this and probably by the next time I need it I will have forgotten. Help
Shoe!!! LOL I think he got tired of me. Anyway, it finally looks almost as good as Kent's.

Jeanette

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Hah! Ya done good, Jnette!

Folks, she wasn't gonna give up until she learned how to put in active hyperlinks in her first post above. Now that she knows she'll be a whirlwind and be teaching others!

Ah yesss...DG, THE place to learn many things, eh?

Shoe

Ida, MI

Woo-hoo! Talked to my neighbor yesterday about my strawbales. I asked him what kind of price I get on 50 bales of any kind of hay or straw, spoiled preferably. He said he had some straw that had gotten damaged and if I was willing to take 50 of them I could have them for $1.50 a piece! Strawbale garden9ing here I come! If this works out well I think I will just tell my neighbor to drop off unsalable bales as he gets them during the year. At that price I can use the ones I don't use for gardening as compost or mulch as I have an excellent shredder. Thanks Strawbaleman for getting me going on this! Neighbor thinks I'm a bit wacky but my neighbors have thought this for years. LOL I did ask him if he had ever heard of strawbale gardening and he said no but when I explained it he said he had seen filmclips of it but had not heard it called that so this must be something they are trying to get going for commercial purposes also. I didn't have a lot of time to talk to him about it but when he drops off my bales I will see if I can get more info from him. Think Spring!

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