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Straw Bale Gardening (Part 13)

Wake Forest, NC

Let's start Part 13.

Here's a link to Parts 1 thru 12: http://davesgarden.com/forums/t/724771/
(Do ya'll like this better, or had you rather I put a link to each Part?)

Put your marker on the map at: www.frappr.com/strawbalegardeners

Kent

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Thanks Kent. Much better. Whoops, did it again didn't I?

See you had 18 lurkers, how come none of them had any input??? Must be like reading a good book? Or is it like gossiping over the back fence? LOL

Whichever it is fun.

Jeanette

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Tim, that is wonderful. You really are ambitiuous and it is wonderful that you have your sons to help you. That is a lot of produce.

How come we don't get any pictures of this when you started early on?

Jeanette

Pelzer, SC(Zone 7b)

I'm having fun with my "Tater Corral":). I've got blooms on all three varieties. How do I know, you ask? In all that mess how do you know what's where? Well, thank the 'Taters. The white potatoes have whits flowers, the blue have pretty light blue flowers, and the reds have pink/lavender flowers. Good thing I only planted three varieties. Oh no. I didn't. I planted four. Hmmm. well, that's okay, it'll be a surprise....

Margo

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

That's funny Margo. I didn't know that. I have had mashed blue potatoes (my sister has to try everything) and it sure seemed strange.

Well, well, well, wonder what the 4th one is!!

Pelzer, SC(Zone 7b)

*G*, I know it's a "fingerling", but I can't remember what kind. Okay, duh, I will read the label when I get to the garden, if I can find it under the plants....

Need some help, here. How often do y'all water your bales, and how much? I'm terrified to NOT water, but I'm afraid I'm overdoing it. We did have rain (finally), but when there is no rain, how do I judge? What brings this up is the BER on some of my tomatoes. It isn't on all of them, but enough to concern me. Even the other tomatoes on the same plant sare not affected, YET! Do I wait until things start to wilt, and water selectively?

Help.
Margo

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Watering to me depends on the weather and how hot it is. And for how long. Long enough to dry the bale out? Also, how tightly the bales are packed. I have a couple that are kind of loose. I expect them to dry out faster.

The ones from last year are not the same consistancy as the fresh straw from this year. I think you just have to do a little bit of "trial by error". I'm sorry, I don't think there are any exact answers for this. Maybe someone else can give you a better idea.

Also, the type of plant, how big it is, all of these come into play on watering.

Jeanette

Pelzer, SC(Zone 7b)

*G*. Yeah, I guess you're right. I was really hoping for some guidelines, so I'm still open to suggestions. I stuck my hand in a bale the other day, and was horified when I realized it was right into the roots of a tomato. Fortunately, it seems none the worse for wear.
The difference in bales is significant. My first bales were fine hay, and have decomposed a lot already. The more recent ones are rye hay, and look more like straw. They finally cooled off enough to plant, but what a difference!! The old hay bales were easy to part and put the plants in, but I had to rip hay out of the new one to have enough room to plant my 'Maters. Granted, I wanted to put some soil in as well, so I needed open space, but that was WORK!! I am going to "start" a few more of these for fall crops if we're able to find some more hay for the cows. Can't let them go hungry, or they will probably decide that my garden is lunch.

Oh! The fourth potato is Rose Finn Apple Fingerling :). It doesn't seem to have flowered yet.

Well, I visit the garden twice a day anyway, so I'll just try to keep ahead of the drying out.
Margo

This message was edited Jun 6, 2007 9:48 AM

Pelzer, SC(Zone 7b)

Another question for those of you that have experience with this. Have you found that the roots of any of the plants have gone into the ground at the end of the season? Just curious if they have remained contained, or escaped into the wilderness....

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Mine didn't but that doesn't mean they won't. If you put the bales on some kind of weed block they probably wouldn't.

Jeanette

Lawrenceville, GA(Zone 7b)

I generally water a couple of times a week.

I have mostly eggplants and peppers in mine and while they were healthy, I wasn't that happy with them.

Then I remembered Kent's post about his conversation with someone who said that you have to feed a little more frequently than with dirt grown plants. I added some fish emulsion and epsom salts to the alfalfa tea I was giving them. And I added some bone and blood meal to the bales and then gave them a good watering and they are very happy now.

Even the flea beetle ravaged plants are looking good.

BB

Raeford, NC

BronxboyThis is my first year doing bales and eggplants.I planted white eggplants because I heard they were milder in taste so wanted to try them. They look pretty good. Does the plant get bigger like a stalk and once you see one growing, how long does it take before picking. As for your fertilizing how much did you add? And after the first addition how often after that.Another question. My mother's squash has bumps on several of them.She is 82 and has been gardening most of her life.It is yellow summer squash.It is in soil.Said never seen anything like it. Anyone have ideas or solutions. Thanks Deanna

Raeford, NC

I am already trying to plan for next year as I am enjoying this so much. Could someone please tell me the best plants for growing in the straw?Thanks Deanna

Wake Forest, NC

The following is an excerpt of an email from Chris, who is not a member of DG, but gave me his permission to post some of his photos. He's got a great looking garden; very neat and orderly, and colorful. Here's some info on Chris and his garden.

Kent

I do not live in NC, but in Western Kentucky, near the Lakes (small town of Calvert City), and close to Paducah Kentucky.

The tomatoes that I have planted are all heirloom, so it will be interesting to see how that goes.

I have added marigolds, and recently planted nasturtium seeds (which are coming up). This is what I have planted other than a varity of heirloom.

Also okra, 2 types of squash, eggplants, peppers (bells, hot, sweet, etc), dill, 2 types of cucumbers.

There is an infrastructure of poles (Lowes) to handle the tomatoes. Most are of the beefsteak varity. The grouping of the bales catches about 6 to 7 hours of sun, in my shady yard. The soil here is clay and rock, so this method is great, other than my water bill. I am wishing for a well now. Hahahahh

Chris

Thumbnail by KentNC
Wake Forest, NC

Photo # 2 of Chris' garden:

Thumbnail by KentNC
Wake Forest, NC

Photo #3 of Chris' garden.

Thumbnail by KentNC
Wake Forest, NC

Photo #4 of Chris' garden.

Thumbnail by KentNC
South/Central, FL(Zone 9a)

'very neat and orderly'...... I'll 2nd that. Everything is beautiful. : )

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Very healthy looking too. Nice.

Jeanette

Lawrenceville, GA(Zone 7b)

I like the black plastic underneath the bales

BB

Wingate, MD(Zone 7b)

Hi Everyone,
My husband is in a motorized chair. He has his tomaotes on both sides of the back sidewalk. Some he has in EB's (homemade) and some in the bales. They are doing great considering the crazy weather we had. This is certainly a great way to go for the handicapped.

Peg

Thumbnail by Chesapeake
Wake Forest, NC

Peg: I love it. Tell your husband he's doing a fine job!

All: I received an email from a lady who said her dad is bale gardening.

He is 93!

I wrote back begging for a photo of him and his garden. I'll let you know if I get one.

Kent

Buffalo, WV(Zone 7a)

That's wonderful! I would love to see a pic of him gardening :~) Good job, Kent!

Lana

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Peg, your husband's garden is wonderful. Great tomatoes!! What in the world do you do with all those tomatoes?? You must be canning as fast as he picks them. Very nice picture. A real inspiration to all gardeners.

Jeanette

Parkersburg, WV(Zone 6b)

Good morning everyone! I know this has probably been addressed somewhere in one of the many threads on straw bale gardening, but I can't spend days reading back through it all again. I'm hoping one of y'all can advise me. I got straw bales (wheat straw, I think) and started prepping them. Watered them but they never got above 100 degrees. My husband thinks they were pretty old when we got them. The bales are now beginning to spout green stuff--wheat, I suppose? Anyway, can I take this as an indication that the bales are ready for planting?

TIA!

Kim

Buffalo, WV(Zone 7a)

Hi, Kim! I would think they are ready but since I'm new at this myself you might wait for confirmation from someone with experience :~)

Lana

Parkersburg, WV(Zone 6b)

Hi Lana, Thanks...I'm anxious to get my maters in the bales but I'm afraid to rush things.... Gotta get them in soon though, if I want maters to eat this summer. Have you planted in your bales yet?

Tuscaloosa, AL(Zone 7b)

My wheat bales never got hot either, but they did just fine anyway. If you prepped them the proper length of time, and are now growing wheat on them and have had mushrooms sprout, they should be fine to plant in.

Raeford, NC

Glendalekid I see you are a latenighter too. I have had my bales planted for about a month now. Never have seen the mushrooms. I did not test the temp but I waited the time frame .I believe it was 9 days I watered and put the fertilizer like Kent said. Was it the first thread?there was an article in our elect. co-op magfeaturing Kent and it had this address so whatever thread came up I used but I know it told from the first day until the end of the season. The first bales were old and have not really sprouted much grass but the 2 new ones had sprouted grass in less than 2 weeks.. but everything seems to be growing well.I have little squash I can see and little cukes and my tomatoes will soon be ready to pick. brocolli is doing good. All in all I like this strawbale planting and plan to go much bigger next year. deanna

Cranbury, NJ

I have to admit I've been lurking on the hay bale threads. I went out last week and bought one bale of wheat hay. The salesman asked me, do you want wheat hay or straw? My reply was " UHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH" --I was trying to think back to the thread, nothing came to mind, so I said hay.

Would it have mattered if it was hay or straw?

I put 4 tomato plants in -

This is so fun, I am going out today and buying a couple more bales. Except here in central jersey bales of hay are hard to find and they cost $7 each. But it is fun to experiment.

Thumbnail by kiwiandsteve
Pelzer, SC(Zone 7b)

Hi kiwiandsteve;
How did you get your bale prepped so fast?? Mine seemed to take forever, but, of course, I was anxious to plant.
As to the hay vs. straw, I can only tell you my experience. I started with hay, and they have decomposed a lot already, and starting to fall apart.. The veggies are growing well, but some are falling over. Not a big deal, it's mostly things that like to grow on the ground anyway, like squash and tomatoes. I just planted in "new" bales, which are supposedly rye hay, but seem more like straw, much larger stems, although still lots of seed for the cows. These are a whole different story. Took longer to prep, and one was still hot when I went to plant. They are much denser, and I had to rip out hay to get the tomato plants in them. I'm going to direct seed some things in some, as well. These I think will hold up a lot better, but I don't know if the veggies will be as happy.
Time will tell :)
Margo

Thumbnail by catmad
Cranbury, NJ

Catmad - your garden looks healthy --plants are huge, as you can see, mine are all still babies.

I only fertilized maybe 3 days and then we got heavy rain 4 days straight and it the bale just got nice and soaked.
I wasn't sure the bale was ready. It wasn't hot and it seemed to be water logged because of all the rain. I had the tomatoes in the 4-pack from the garden shop and I knew they were ready to be planted. So I took a chance with the bale.

I'm going out today bale hunting and I'm going to buy bloodmeal to sprinkle around, I'm trying to keep the rabbits and groundhogs away.

I noticed you don't have a fence - any critters eating your plants?

Pelzer, SC(Zone 7b)

No critters (crossing fingers) yet, but it's not really in a place that's too accessible (knocking madly on the desk). We've got deer and bunnies, but the deer stay back in the woods, and the bunnies too. It may help that I have several large dogs that are between the garden and the woods. I don't know when the raccoons are going to find it, but I'm hoping for the best. I do have bloodmeal around (I used it to condition the bales, too), so that may be helping.

Your plants will catch up, I'm sure. Mine will probably falter in the summer heat, so I'm hoping for good growing before then. I have to harvest zucchini daily, they grow SO darn fast...
Happy Baling,
Margo

Wingate, MD(Zone 7b)

Jeanette,
He doesn't have tomatoes yet. Lots of blossums, plants are still growing. I guess when the tomatoes start we will give a lot away and freeze some. I only know he is having a good time taking care of them. It gets him out of the house instead of watching TV all of the time. I will have to find him a new projet for winter.

Peg

Eatonton, GA(Zone 8b)

Okay, I just found this and I am amazed! I have been wondering for the longest time how to help My Dad with his garden, Now I know! He is 83 and still plants in the ground and runs a tiller! It nearly beats him to death! He is so determined to do it though! This straw bale planting would be something great for him and ME too! Thanks so much!
I am now going to be one of those "Lurkers", that everyone talks about, cause I will go back and read all the links . I hope I will learn fast cause I really would like to get in a couple of trys at it, this season before its too late! Eufaula

Parkersburg, WV(Zone 6b)

Good luck Eufaula! Lots of us are just starting out this year. There are a bunch of threads---we are up to 13 threads, I believe. If you go back and read through all of them, it will take a long time, but you'll get a real education.

Eatonton, GA(Zone 8b)

Yes Thank You Kevanrijn, Ive been at it a while now and realize there is a lot to read and learn ! The hardest part for me right this minute is locating The straw bales!!! Our drought here had depleted the straw and hay for almost 3 months! We are trying to let our cattle and horse people get the first of the new coming soon we hope!

Tuscaloosa, AL(Zone 7b)

Deanna: Yep, getting to stay late up comes with being retired. I always hated to get up early. Could never see a reason for starting the world before 10 AM, now I don't have to. LOL. My straw bales were new, but they never did get hot like others had happen. They did sprout a lot of wheat and lots of mushrooms. The mushrooms quickly died though. I did use the ammonium nitrate and followed the schedule. I have little yellow squash, little zucchini, little green beans, and tiny watermelons. The tomatoes are starting to ripen. Some of my watermelons, canteloupes, and cukes were planted later than the other stuff, but they are coming along fine, too. One of my biggest tomato plants is a volunteer that came up next to the flower bed by the house. I let it grow -- lots of tomatoes on it, but it's too shady there. My daughter was joking today and said that one is probably my "fried green tomato" plant.

Eufala: Straw bale gardening will be perfect for your dad. No stooping and no tilling. Have you talked to the folks at HD or Lowe's? They have been out of the straw bales for about a month now here, but I noticed today that our HD has two new truck loads of straw bales in their parking lot. In your area ask them when/if they will be getting more.

Chesapeake: How about a hoop house for winter? They're easy and cheap to build. It could be made from PVC pipe or cattle panels. If you get a lot of wind, the cattle panel hoop houses can be very sturdy. I've read where people are overwintering all kinds of vegetables in them.

kiwiandsteve: Either hay or straw should work just fine. Some use one and some use the other. I chose wheat straw because it was available at HD and Lowe's for half the price of hay bales.

Karen

Cranbury, NJ

Thanks for that info Karen, I went out today looking for hay bales and they are gone.
Someone said the same thing from GA. So, I will start look for straw. I hope its cheaper.
None at the HD here.

Anyway this is a whole lot of fun - no weeding, no tilling - its just amazing.

Kiwi

Wake Forest, NC

kiwi: any organic bale will work. Just don't try PINE STRAW. Totally different animal. I've only used wheat and oat. I want to try some hay/grass bales. Shoe is a real big fan of those.

Margo: gorgeous! just gorgeous.

Eufaula: good to have you with us.

All: I'm looking for a lapel pin of a hay/straw bale. If anyone finds a source, let me know, please. I've made up caps and t-shirts, but I can wear the lapel pin with a suit and "stir the puddin" a little that way.

Kent

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