This is my first time checking this out and wow, I'm impressed big time. Nice work to all of you. I'm inspired to try it out myself. But, I was just wondering how many seed potatoes you can put in each bale?
BronxBoy; Not that it means anything, but I usually have a few of the first tomatoes having BER. Of course I have never tried to prevent it. I just put enough in to make up for it. After the season really gets started I don't see it as much. Of course that was all in the dirt. This is the first time I've tried bales. My friend here in town is also trying bales. He put in just 2 tomatoes, but they were started way early. and he has a little tomato already. I will be watching his to see if it gets the blossom end Rot. You have to remember that this is early for zone 4. I get a little zone envie, once in a while. Then I realize there is some things I like that would have trouble growing in zones 7 - 10. Right now it is 80 and very windy. Not too good to try putting out any tender little plants. They may get leaves torn off or the wind would just break the stem off. Not to mention adding to the shock of transplanting. Night before last the temp dropped to 39 kind of makes a person wonder if I put things out too early. I probably have more planted in the ground than in bales. but then I'm trying this for the first time. So I guess, I will have a comparison. to report on. Good luck on the future fruits for those vines. Russ
Going to tale a bunch of pics today. Will post as soon as I do!
Those tomato plants I put into bales are the first ones to set fruit so I may have made an erroneous connection. I ususally do not have too much of a problem with BER, only had it with certain beds
They were my first to set fruit, too :). I'm getting a little worried that this is going to be the "Tomato that Ate Carolina" tho. I thought it was a small plant, but have been told that it will be huge, and it seems to be aware of that. I planted it, and an Ildi in pots, cuz I thought they would be fun to bring up on the porch for outside meals. Oh well, I have a wheelbarrow...
I have pruned mine to a single leader to save space side to side & put an extra high trellis in back so they can go higher rather than wider, I have bloom stems between ever leaf, so they are going to produce like mad at that rate & be easier to handle...when pruning I don't take the sucker until it's got a couple of leaves...then I nip the tip so those leaves provide shade & production ability but no side shoots...
How about putting it at the bottom of one of your sunny porch columns & tying it up that so its more manageable...
you'll still have tomatos on your porch!( & a pretty vine)...:)
I planted Juliettes last year, and yes they are a large plant. lots of fruit but big plant. BB do you sell produce at the farmer's market? What all do you sell? No wonder you planted so much. I didn't realize that. Just thought you might have a big family.
If so, when do you start? Or do you sell bedding plants and veggie plants too? Do you have green houses? I can't remember. Aren't you the one with the crooked little shed?
Isn't it funny how you remember things but not who did what with them?
It was well below freezing here for three nights Easter weekend. I bought every cheap blanket I could find to wrap up my seedlings and went to war with Jack Frost. I wrapped them every night and unwrapped them every morning. The neighbors said they thought I was performing some kind of ancient Easter ritual. With all the hay and blankets it looked like a nativity scene gone horribly wrong.
Thanks for the advice, Jeanette, I backed down on the water and the tomatoes are doing much better. Added some Miracle Gro for tomatoes and they are now nice and green. I must have been washing away nutrients by over watering.
Got a new problem, and had this one before I started bale gardening.
Getting dark purple splotches (almost black) on my peppers. Last year, in a regular soil garden, had them on my tomatoes, also. I thought this was something in my soil, but I'd think that the problem coming back in a straw bale garden would rule that out. My tomatoes aren't ripe enough yet to see if I'm going to have them on my tomatoes yet, but it's definitely coming back on the peppers. Haven't been able to find anything online that would fit the description of the problem.
Doesn't seem to affect the taste or ruin the flesh of the affected fruit or vegetable, just looks awful.
Also have a persimmon tree about 120 ft. from the garden that has this problem also, the persimmons ripen with blackish spots. Has done this for several years now.
It is strange though. Especially since it is turning up on other produce. Why don't you take a couple of things with it on them to your county extension office or Master Gardners. Might even try a nursery.
I agree with Summerkid, except that it seems to bother you. It isn't soft like it is starting to rot is it? Are you close to any universities with agricultural departments?
My goodness you are a gluten for work BB. It's too bad they don't start your farmer's market earlier so you could sell bedding plants. Those are so easy if you have the setup to handle them. Look how many seeds you get in a pack and how few seeds you actually use for your own use.
Almost all of the farmers markets around here start right after Memorial Day weekend.
Lots of posts since I left for my little excursion to the Bahamas. Had to go back to work today. My body was here but my mind was still on vacation, thinking about lying around the pool, soaking up some sun, etc. Here's the view from the 8th floor balcony.
Kent, your hyperlinks at the very top are not working. Can you please fix them for newbies?
I should get my spoiled hay bales this week and I have seedlings already coming up to put in them, plus some tomato plants from another DG'er that I potted up in quart and gallon pots 2 weeks ago. I think we are finally past frost damage.
Jeanette, do you think plastic encasing the bale might encourage mold and maybe even rot of the plant itself?
Shoe: yeah, it was a hardship to sit by the pool and doze on and off, but somebody's got to do it! :-)
Jeanette: no experience with plastic, but seems like we've had some folks who tried it last year. I'm not watering as much as I used to. I just check the bales for moisture content and see how the plants are looking. My oat straw is retaining alot of moisture.
Darius: Bronxboy will have to correct the links in the first post, but the link to #11 will take you back to that thread which has the links to all the rest.
How long is it neccesary to keep piling stuff around the potatoes? Do you just keep doing it, or do you eventually just let them grow? Mine need more again, and this will bring them to the level of the bales. Is that enough, or should I go higher? My pumpkins are crawling off the bales, can I give them a bed of hay to sprawl on? Leave them on the grass? Weed barrier cloth?. So many questions...
Thanks for the welcome back ya'll. I loved my vacation, but let me tell you, there's nothing like being in the good old U.S. of A!!!
Margo: I don't put anything around my potatoes. Once I made my row of straw as high as I wanted it, I planted my seed potatoes and let it go. I've read posts about adding to the potato row, but I never did that when I was "dirt" farming.
Anything that's going to run off the bales, I'd do something to prevent the grass from growing up in the vines. Papers, cloth, etc., your choice. Otherwise it'll really get "snaky" looking.
foggy: not sure about being the "King"; BB has about twice the # of bales it appears; he'll be the "King" this year for sure!
We can alot and give whatever is left to family and friends. I give the habaneros away to those who really like to turn up the heat. Jalapenos and cayenne are about as hot as I want to go.
By the way, a buddy said they froze their tomatoes, rather than can them. Anyone else froze their tomatoes? Sounds alot easier and quicker if you've got the freezer space.
When I first started "serious" gardening (enough harvest to last until the next one) I knew nothing about canning. I froze enough tomatoes to last about nine months. All I did was skin, bag and freeze. I used both resealable bags and vacuum sealed bags. They kept very well. When we had a power outage that lasted nearly a day - I decided that canning was the way to go. Now I mainly "can" and freeze when I just don't have the time - or only have a small quantity.
When I didn't have time to can I just rinsed the tomatoes, put them on a cookie sheet and froze them. Then put them in bags and used them however and whenever I wanted. So easy!! The only thing they aren't good for is fresh salads. Some people tried it when they were half frozen because they were still firm but I did not like them that way.
Thanks for the compliment but you'll always be the "King" . Your plants look better. I'm having a real time with my eggplants. They are growing but the got hit by flea beetles so they don't look good. Finally treated them.
We can, freeze and dry our tomatoes. I agree with GreenAtHeart. If you start to get any volume you'll run out of space in a hurry! We either freeze them whole or chop them up and roast them with peppers and onions. Once all the water has evaporated, we run them through a food processor and voila, instant sauce. We then freeze that.
A lot of people don't dry the tomatoes but we do. We have gotten to the point where we refuse to eat tomatoes out of season. We have been rehydrating our dried maters and adding them to salads when we need to. Great taste!
summerkid wrote;" the flea beetle damage may look funny but it doesn't harm the plant or its production,"
summerkid, how can that be?? They left my eggplants with leaves that were nothing but "lace", not really any leaf at all. I thought the beetles were gone, and the leaves began to grow again, but the little holes are starting all over again:((. You mean it will be the same whether I treat them or not? I'd rather not...
I used a combination of Pyola, Neem Oil and a bioinsecticide from Gardens Alive. Even though I always apply either very early or late i the day, I think the malfunction with my sprayer applied too much to the plants.
I was teaching a potting class in some of the communities we build in and I put some plants in an Earthbox. The eggplant in the Earthbox is absolutely beautiful, nice and lush. How come the flea beetles didn't bother it but did attack the ones in the bales.
They are strong though and are developing blossoms!
OK, I can't find the source that said ignore the flea beetles. Unless you want to count ME!
But Eliot Coleman recommends a shop-vac of all things, along with early row covers. Apparently flea beetles are less of a pest as the summer wears on. He's against even rotenone (still a poison) and diatomaceous earth (free silica).
I came across other recommendations for a handheld vac & Safer's on the underside of leaves, or strong water spray to knock them off.
HI YALL, IM IN NORTH GEORGIA BOUGHT VERY TIGHT SOMEWHAT GREEN BALES OF STRAW FROM HOME DEPOT AND BEEN USING UREA AT 34 FOR ABOUT 7 DAYS AND THE BALES ARE SUPER HOT BUT THEY STINK AND ARE COVERED WITH FLIES ALSO GETTING SOFT AND DARK ANY THOUGHTS ON THIS ANYONE THANKS KGO.
Flea beetles will surely decimate eggplants here in the South. Maybe it doesn't happen so badly in the northern areas. I tend to use anything from simple talcum powder to a basil spray or mint spray to keep them at bay. Once the plants have taken on good growth and are about 18-24 inches high (or higher) the beetles tend to leave it alone. And BB, I've used Neem oil as well and it seems to zap them pretty good as well as having somewhat of a repellent property.
DE can get expensive to use if you have umpteen plants to use it on. As for me, I don't care for rotenone either, Summerkid...too much evidence of it playing a role in the cause of Parkinson's Disease.
kgo...it may be the flies are attracted to your bales due to the heat being put out by the composting/decaying bales. Also, urea, in too much quantity is highly nitrogenous and will certainly cause an odor. I think I'd cut back on adding anymore of it to your bales and if the bales stay somewhat moist then don't water each day.
As an aside, my tomato, cukes, and pepper plants are looking so nice and green, very healthy in my bales! Yay! I'm happy! :>)
summerkid wrote;" Safer's on the underside of leaves, or strong water spray to knock them off."
And that's exactly what I did, so I guess I'll just keep an eye on them now. The plants seem to be starting to grow again, so I hope I can keep the critters at bay. Shoe, are there any "recipes" for your basil and mint sprays? I'd like to try that rather than the Safer's, if it will help. Really don't want to use anything, but I can't just let the poor little things get eaten alive...
Howdy, Margo...I tend to have more than enough mint around here so I just grab it by the handfuls and let it steep in a bucket of water for a few days, then water the foliage with the mint water. The basil I'll sometimes make into a tea, usually a good handful, and steep it in warm water. This can just be made in a cooking pot...warm the water, throw in the basil and let steep. This goes into a qt spray bottle and I squirt the plants with that. It's not 100% guaranteed but it sure seems to help, especially when I use the mint tea as an alternate. And of course, I'll use the talcum as a 3rd alternative. (Just think if you ate something with talcum powder all over it. Yucky, eh?) If all else fails, you should feel safe using pyrethrum, especially since at these young stages the plants won't be in flower so you won't be negatively affecting any beneficials by using it. Lastly, if you have any row cover/reemay that will help as a barrier to the flea beetles, just be sure to take it off when the begin to flower.
Howdy BB...sounds like you are on a good roll with your gardens! Very busy here but we've been blessed with great weather for the gardens so I'm happy! (Exhausted, but happy!)
Shoe, are these recipes only for the flea beetles? The only thing that breaks my organic armor are cucumber beetles. I resort to rotenone once a year (I have beehives so protect my precious little charges) to knock the population down, but I've yet to come across a satisfactory organic solution.
A DGer shared a garlic potion that kills everything in its path, so I'll try that this year.
I love StrawBale Gardening :). I've never had this kind of growth before, and even if they all succumb to something later, I'll try again! I have not added any fertilizer yet, what is the best way to do this?
Margo; I don't know that answer, but would love to see the responses. Your bale garden is way ahead of ours. Of-course cool weather has kept popping in, for a while longer this spring. Feb. was so much warmer than March, when day after day it was droping below freezing. The leaves on most of our Hostas have a rather odd look. like they had been in a battle. Some of the iris leaves look like they were jamed against something hard and just doubled up like an accordian.
It's not all bad though. DW don't care for radishes (raw) but does like them cooked, like in stew or even mixed in with potato salad. Well I have had most of one row to myself, so far. I have planted a second and third row already, and they are comming along nicely. The tomatoes in the bale garden are just now looking like they might actually make it. I have some in the ground with grass clippings as a mulch. They are a little smaller. They also look like they are ready to take off and do something. They have no fertilizer to give them a boost. Those in the bales on the other hand, have had, Urea to help start the bales cooking, as well as blood meal and some 10-10-10 before planting them. Yes they are further ahead than those in the ground. I would post a pic but my program is messed up. I can't seem to get it to work in harmony with DG.
Jeanett; Yesterday as I was watering the bales, I saw one of the small mellons had sprouted. O oh I forgot to tell Barb, an She isn't home right now either. But I am tickled that even one has come up. as that should supply us with seed for next year. Not to belittle in any way, The fruit!!
I have yet to plant some cukes in the bale I have reserved for them. I'm not that organized I guess. I have however planted a pkg, of seed in the ground and they are comming up. Guess I will have to get that done after bit, and see if they can get ahead of the ones in the ground. You have to remember this is still an experimental venture for me. The mellons I put in the side of a couple bales, seem to be comming along. but not many have have sprouted, as I had expected.
I'm wondering if they are trying to go up instead of out the side. I will have to check that out.
Russ, wasn't it Catmad that has the melons in the side of the bale? Whoever it was, remember that they started the plants and had them going and then decided they wanted their bales placed with the strings the other way so they turned them and that is how they got them in the side of the bale?
I don't know if a plant would grow sideways?? Starting out. So glad your melons are sprouting. I planted Blue Lake pole beans the other day and they haven't sprouted. I even soaked them in innoculant. My melons are doing fine except now listen, the ones inside the hoophouse are about twice as big as the ones outside. Those outside are probably cold. They like the heat. You might put a hot cap over them or even cut the bottom out of a milk jug.
I am going to have to replant my cukes. They did not survive the transplanting. I have heard they don't like to be moved.
Jnette It was me and it was lettuce.It was an accident. When I first started my dogs bit the tops off everything and so waited until I could fence it in. Read I had put my bales wrong so flipped them the right way. A couple of weeks ago discovered the lettuce coming out the side, they had not died. It is leaf lettuce.Had my daughter take a picture as she said she knew how to put it on the site. Guess she forgot. Will remind her. Deanna
jnette. I think you are right. I believe it was Margo. Now that you reminded me, of her putting plants, I supose a person could put in seeds then turn the bales after they are well sprouted. I don't know why it wouldn't work. as long as there is enough moisture. May need to add some fertilizer ????? I did not get my hoop house done in time, to get that kind of use out of it. I think a quite a bit of talk and no work, lead to that problem. If I ever get all my mess cleaned up. and situate the back yard. Cut down that walnut tree that took the lightning hit instead of the house. And move an old storage shed. I might be able to spend more time on the garden stuff.
If I had finished the Hoop, or green house, whichever. I would not have taken up so much room in the kitchen, for starting plants. I was going to do the starting upstairs. Then about that time I got a phone call that a grandson may be staying with us for a while. Could he have the upstairs bed room? So I changed plans. But it didn't happen. So I guess the best plan would be to cover, the intended hoop house this summer before it doesn't get done again. Right???Whoops guess we were both wrong. thanks for straightening us out. Deanna
Concerning flea beetles: they ruined my eggplants last year. It was hard getting them going because of the cool nights into June and then the beetles really finished them off. I did spray with Pyola but couldn't keep ahead of them. This year I bought K Plus Neem spray and a bottle of concentrate since I read this kills flea beetles. I also plan to use the row covers. I will be planting some in straw bales and the rest in an Earthbox.
Questions for you straw bale experts: This is my first attempt.
1. At what temperature can I plant the bales? I'm sorry if this was answered in an early thread but I simply don't have the time to track it down. The bales have heated up nicely using blood meal. I have put on the fertilizer (Days 10 and 11) and am just waiting for them to cool down. The temps still range from 105 to 125 depending on the bale or what part of the bale. How much longer will I reasonably have to wait? I am getting anxious since I have tomato, pepper, eggplants, okra, and squash seedlings waiting to be planted!
2. Also should I still be watering them every day even though they are hot, damp and soft in the middle? I keep thinking I am just washing away all that good fertilizer but if it doesn't dissolve into the bale will it burn the roots of the tender seedlings when I plant them?I do intend to add potting mix to the bales before planting.
It is great fun following the threads of all you southern straw bale gardeners who lead the way and can then advise us newbies to the north!
gardadore, once the bale temps start to fall they come down pretty quick. I planted mine at 80 degrees; they fell from an average high of 140 degrees in only three days. I would definitely wait till they're under 90 degrees to avoid shocking the seedlings. As far as watering goes, once your bales have dropped from maximum temp the water should just help you get down to planting temperature that much faster. I think I can honestly say no one has over-watered their bales in the prep stage as much as I did. I have the water bills to prove it. My crop shows no sign of being nutritionally deprived. It's only when your bales start to sag and slide with time that they are really giving up the good stuff.
Weeeeeeelll, I planted mine a lot warmer than that. I think mine were closer to 110 degrees. BUT, I am not a "Southern" gardner. We in the north need the heat.
I do not water every day especially after planting. I think the plants will rot if they are too wet.
I think , even tho this is your first year strawbale gardening that you probably have gardened before. I say, use your instincts. That is what we have all had to do. Most of us are only on our 2nd year so we are not EXPERTS.
My plants are way behind any of yours, but I think you all have much warmer weather than I do. My tomatoes have a few blossoms but no fruit yet. I'm still watering every day that it doesn't rain. Should I slow down on the watering at some point? After they get fruit or am I watering too much now?
I have 3 regular tomatoes, one cherry tomato, one pepper plant (going to add one more pepper), and one bale that has 3 small melon plants that I grew from seeds someone sent me. I plant to put down either cardboard or black weed barrier cloth when the melons trail to the ground. I set all the bales on huge pieces of cardboard. Oddly enough, one bale has tons of grass seeds sprouting in it, one has a small amount, and one has next to none.
It's supposed to get to 77 here on Wednesday!!!! So far it has only broken 70 once I think.
Wwweeeeeeeeelllllllllllllllllll, I try not to hold non-"Southern"-ness against anyone. Waiting long enough for the temp of your bale to come relatively close to the temp of the medium your seedling currently resides in is probably a good idea though. This is just "Southern" thinking though. I did cut way down on the watering once I planted however. I installed a drip irrigation system that seems to be doing the job nicely. No EXPERTS here either though.
LOL, you did better than I did dbarb. I can't knock success. Your produce is beautiful. You do have a lot better climate than we do. But, you see, when the weather is so cold the bales hold that water in like a sponge. If we have plants in there then they have a tendancy to rot.
Gwen, I sent you the melon seeds. It sounds like they are growing tho. I told Russ that I had some of those melons in my hoophouse which is covered with plastic, and then I also have some planted outside in bales. I really have to keep working with the ones outside because it is cold. Melons do like the heat of the hoophouse. You might try cutting the bottoms out of milk jugs and using them as hot caps. I would take the cap off tho so the heat can escape.
Jnette, I will fully defer to you on the quirks of gardening in the great white north. If your bales are still icy sponges in late May I can do nothing more than empathize and perhaps suggest cheap real estate further south of the arctic circle. At 125 degrees gardadore has one hot icy straw sponge on her hands. My recommendation of the bale temperature before planting does stand though...be it Mississippi or the Siberian tundra. Still no EXPERT here, but do want to share my experiences.
All: Everyone is doing a great job with their gardens, from the 2nd year crew to the those who just started this year.
Jeanette said it best about just using your instincts and gardening experience to adapt to bale gardening, along with the great advice you'll get from the DG family if you ever have a question. Hard to beat that combo.
One thing puzzles me.
I see all of the international subscribers to DG, but we've never had 1 single input from anyone other than USA and Canada that I can remember.
And with a 10:1 ratio of lookers -vs- comments, you'd think someone from another country would have joined in by now.
I would love to make the jump across the Atlantic or Pacific.
P.S. - forgot to mention that I hope everyone is having a great Memorial Day. Thank you fellow Vets for your contribution in the service of our country. All gave some; some gave all.
Dbarbrady. Keep up the good posting. My temps are a little inbetween yours and Jeanette's. Though this year threw us all off a bit. With the opposite of global warming this spring. **** I think Jeanette was standing outside fanning her dish towel trying to send some of their weather my way**** LOL Tee Hee
Jeanett; just funning. And still just one of the small melons so far. I probably should have soaked them and started them in doors. However I have always had better luck with direct planting. Our growing season is a little longer than yours (Usually)
Jeanette, that's a good idea, I'll do that. They sprouted right away. I put a few seeds in each 'hole' and I got one sprout in two holes and two sprouts in one hole. I recently pulled out the smaller second sprout.
Do you think I'm watering too much? Don't want to get everything rotted!
Here's a pic of our garden. The in-ground garden to the right is green beans and corn, 3 cultivars of each. The strawbales on the left which are late starting will have sweet peppers, tomatoes, squash, zukes, cukes, and canteloupe in them. We have now put a sprinkler inside the fencing due to lack of rain. It waters the whole garden, the landscaping over to the pond edge and even gets the compost bin :~) DH just has to haul lots more water for the cistern!
Look at what surprised me this morning. These are my Supersweet 100 cherries. This is the first homegrown tomato I have ever tasted in May. Thanks for all the great info Kent and everybody! I have a feeling every morning is going to hold more happy surprises like this.
Rats! The man who was giving me spoiled hay bales cannot get to them, so I will have to buy straw bales afterall. Today I bought cedar posts to put in the ground to support cattle panels where I'mm tie my tomatoes.
Can anyone give me a reason NOT to put a row of bales on the other side with pole beans to climb on the same cattle panels?
Thanks everyone for your input! So I'm back to pure instinct, am I?! LOL Well since my bales are still over 100 I guess I'll just have to be patient and wait. It does make sense to wait until the internal temps reach about 80-90. I would also guess that adding the potting soil would help protect the roots if the temps inside get too hot. The outdoor temps have been in the mid 80's all week with no rain and the bales seem pretty hot to the touch during the middle of the day. We moved suddenly from very cool nights (40's) to very hot days neither of which is ideal for planting seedlings. My seedlings (which are getting quite large!) are waiting patiently in a partially sunny corner of the garden to go into the bales. I'll continue to give the bales more water to cool them down but now watering has to be somewhat controlled with the lack of rain. The insides seem nice and soft at this point but I just don't want to burn those tender roots! I'm anxious to see my plants start growing in the bales. All the pictures you are posting look fabulous and are a great inspiration! You may not consider yourselves experts yet but with even one year on me you have more experience than this strawbale newbie and I appreciate your advice and ideas! Jessica
gardadore, with those ambient temps the bales should cool off quickly. I started my seedlings way too early and remember panicking as they were exploding with growth as my bales sat cooling. I'd be willing to bet you're planting before Wednesday if you keep your bales wet. My rule of thumb was that if I stuck my thumb in a bale and it felt any warmer than my dinner I didn't plant.
LOL @ Summerkid!!! They may only be 4.5 and 5lbs but are very high jumpers :~p ROFL
The fencing is to keep out deer and bunnies, not to mention the neighbors dogs. It was what we had that was easiest to put up. Next year we will move the garden because we're trying to slowly ammend the packed down clay soil that the yard is made of after the previous owners pushed all the top soil over the hill during construction :~( Grass won't grow and it's a dust bowl to mow. Figured this was the easiest, if not the fastest, way to ammend the soil. The open areas around the garden and bales will have newspaper, cardboard, etc laid down to walk on, kill the weeds and compost into the soil. We'll plant the garden area with grass next spring and have the garden on another section of the non-yard. Slow but should be effective. I hope to plant potatoes in this years straw next year if Kent's potatoes work out well. They sure are growing gangbusters eh, Kent? :~)
Gwen, sorry I didn't answer sooner. I think if you have blossoms this early that you are FAR ahead of the game given where you are located. I think that is great and you are probably expecting too much. Strawbale gardening is not superman. It is merely NO HOE, NO WEED, and NO TILL. Is that right Kent? LOL It is NOT produce over night. Give nature a chance Gwen.
Lana, I am dying to know the answer to Summerkid's question about those teensy dogs.
Gardadore, you are worrying too much about your seedlings, temps, etc. This is not an exact scinece. We are all in different parts of the country and there is NO set way to do them.
Also, I say, back off on the watering some. Watch your plants and you will know if you need to water more. Expecially I have found the melons can't take too much water but they will be the first to let you know if they need more water. Their stems seem to hold water and if they get too much they will rot off at the soil line.
One more thing, I gave all of my plants, especially the tomatoes, a half a cup of Epsom Salts in a 2 gallon container of water the other day and they LOVED it. Please give your roses ES also.
I've been lurking for a while--waiting to get started on my bales. I finally got them started this weekend--hoping to be able to plant in them about a week from now. I'm planning to plant heirlooms tomatoes (Brandywine and Picardy) and Green Striped Cushaw winter squash (they make unbelievably tasty punkin pies!). I've been wondering about Tristar strawberries and have a couple of questions--is it too late to plant Tristar? Do they do OK in straw bales?
Perhaps some of you have some experience with planting strawberries in straw bales and can give me some advice or pointers? I've only planted strawberies once before and that was out in Washington State, not here in West Virginia. I can use all the advice I can get.
Lana: I checked my potatoes and I have some about 1.5 inches in diameter. Beautiful red color. Can't wait for my first pot with lots of Land of Lakes butter, onions, salt, & black pepper. Hot biscuits to sop the gravy. Plus some cayenne pepper on the side!
Jeanette: almost there! No weeding, no hoeing, no tilling!
But, I can see you have definitely been practicing; good girl! :-)
Dmail me your address and I'll send you a Junior Deputy sticker!!
I think I'll give my tomatoes a dose of salts, too.
Kim: glad to have you with us! No experience with strawberries, but someone will have some input, I'm sure.
I think my peppers are going to be very productive. Lots of fruit. My plants are starting to look a little yellow. Not very bad or anything. How often do you all feed your plants. I've been feeding a solution of alfalfa tea and fish emulsion about every 2 weeks. Do you think I need to feed once a week?
Some of my eggplants are really struggling. They have blossoms but they look absolutely horrible from the flea beetle damage. Haven't seen any beetles since I sprayed but I wonder if they irreparably damaged some of the plants.
Now that's the way to eat potatoes although I have to sneak them because Mrs Bronx is scrutinizing my diet :-(
How do winter crops do in the bales? Have you ever grown cabbage or collards in them through the winter and does the colder weather require any special attention for the bales?
I fertilize with Alfalfa tea and Worm Tea every week. I have really packed my bales full, though, almost using Square Foot Gardening techniques, so I figure I need to supply more nutrients. Things are doing great here, tomatos have flowers, basil and wildflowers growing underneath them. The mellons are flowering as well. All, in all, they are doing as well or better than my in-ground versions. This really helped me to increase my planting without having to expand my garden.
Gosh Tim, you are in zone 5 and have all of that stuff blooming etc. How did you keep them warm enough to grow? Yesterday was our "last chance of frost" day. And my plants look like it. They are doing good and I have a hoophouse over them but not like what yours sound like. But, I only put 2 plants in each bale. Show us some pictures.
Jnette; I don't know what happened, but I got into the pic's. So will give you a peek. I think this was around a week ago. They look a little ragged to me but they seem to be straightining out some. They are now to the point I need to start tiying them up. Now I need to get a pic of the melons. lol
Dbarbrady, you are right. I could have planted today but was too busy. Tomorrow the plants go in the bales! Can't wait! Good thing, too since some of the tomatoes are starting to turn yellow in their tiny pots.
Concerning Epsom Salts. Jeanette, I also find it great for tomatoes, eggplants and peppers. You add more than I do. I always put some in each tomato hole when planting. Later I put 2 tbs in a gallon of water and then feed each plant a pint when the first blooms appear. Epsom salts supposedly help the plants set fruit. This winter I read somewhere on the Internet that foliar spraying is even more effective with Epsom salts. They recommended 1 tbs per gallon. Spray plants at transplant, flowering, and fruit set. That method uses even less but less is supposed to work better so I'll try it and see! Jessica
Lana--I'm impressed with your long term plans to reclaim your yard. It incorporates short term goals (food) and long range objective (usable soil). Way to go!
We bought an old farm house on about an acre of land in 03/05. The first year was spent on the house and driveway (not that that is completely over, thanks to the windstorms from hell in mid-April). It had had renters for about 5 years before we bought it. The house was very rundown but the land had NO care during that time. The first year we put in many bulbs and some ground cover and started pruning. Since then we have really started to work on the grounds. We are learning all kinds of things we never knew before. I'm into veggies and cut flowers and my partner is doing trees, shrubs, and bedding plants. Both of us like the bulbs. They are so satisfying; one shot and you are pretty well done!
The planting in the bales and in the beds was completed by the end of April. Currently the garden looks like this.
Thanks, sandie, I wish my bales were farther along. I'm so anxious to plant in them but got a late start :~( The beans and corn are growing gangbusters though and the peppers and tomatoes which will go into the bales are starting to bloom. Guess it's time to give them a shot of epsom salts.
Couldn't resist cutting into one of the cantaloupes today. I ended up eating three. They are about the size of large grapefruit. I guess this is as big as they are going to get. The ones I ate were so sweet. Does anyone else have experience with cantaloupes in bales? The only help they have gotten is Miracle Grow every 10 days or so. I'd love to know if there is something I can do to plump them up just a little. What they lack in size they make up for in quantity though. I will definitely have cantaloupes in the bales next year.
Dbar you are deffinatley giving me a taste of zone envy.
I have only picked a few radish. well most of the first row. But then we are a few weeks behind the Southern states. Is that melon normaly a smaller variety?
Randbponder, they are Sweet N' Early cantaloupes. This melon is on the small side, but I think I jumped the gun just a bit. From what I've read the stem of the cantaloupe should drop away with the slightest pressure from your thumb. I had to cut mine lose with a knife. I'm going to leave them alone for a week and see if they fill out a bit more. This is my first season bale gardening, and the first I've been able to harvest so early. I'm finding it hard to resist posting my new finds.
Gall Bladder, been going on for 27 days now without a definitive diagnosis until today. Had every test known in the past 2 weeks. LOTS of nausea, upchucking and pain. Surgeon hopes to do a lap. procedure but has warned me he may have to do a full cut. If so, it will mean a few days in the hospital.
Regarding the quesiton about how I have some much growing in zone 5(a), I have a greenhouse that runs all winter to get me a good start, then in March I put up four-foot high plastic covered tunnels over about 400 square feet of garden and planted greens and peas. In mid-April I put down 50 tomatos and some brocolli. Every two weeks after that I put down more tomatos until now I have about 400 plants, including about 100 in my bales. So, I got a big jump. The bales are only about 15% of my garden - an experiment this year that I'm enjoying.
We have greens right now, brocolli about 5 days away from harvesting, peas to harvest for the weekend and about 50 small to mid sized green tomatoes. My boys and I are selling at a farmer's market this year, so we want a giant load of veggies.
Strawbaleman, I am so excited about this thread - I had just watched a garden show where they demonstrated growing strawberries in bales of straw, but they didn't say how to do it. I noted that you recommend watering the bales very well. Do I add soil in little pockets before putting the strawberries in? Do I cover them with more straw in the winter? You should write a book!
Lived in Portland for six years and remember it fondly. My son lives in Klamath Falls. I don't remember reading anything about strawberries in the bales on any of the threads, but -- here's a link to the latest thread - #16 -- I suggest you go there and post it -- no doubt someone will know.