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Alternative Gardening: Straw vs. Alfalfa hay bales.

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Tucson, AZ

November 30, 2007
8:31 PM

Post #4247542

Not sure how many of you have seen the thread I have in the Southwest forum and I have two types of bales I'm using. Straw and alfalfa.
After doing this project for several months now and seeing the difference between how the plants are responding I will not use alfalfa for this method of growing again.

Here's from my latest on the bales and a link to it.
Latest update. No pictures.
The cauliflower in the hay bales are getting huge. In all the years I've grown it I have never had plants with as big of leaves as these plants have.
Broccoli is doing ok.
The lettuce is going gangbusters and I need to harvest some of it before it bolts.
The spinach is limping along. Not doing as well as the lettuce.
Added some broussel sprouts.

Cabbage is still about half the size as those in the ground.
I really think this has to do with them being in the alfalfa bales instead of the hay bales.
I placed some red cabbage in the hay bales to see how they do compared to the green cabbage in the alfalfa and the one green cabbage in the ground. I also placed several of the reds in the ground for comparison.
I also have one broccoli and cabbage in the alfalfa bales and they are maybe a quarter the size of those in the hay.

So from what I have seen to date I would not use alfalfa bales again. Although the soil under and around the alfalfa bales is the deepest chocolate color. I have a purple leaf plum close to one of the alfalfa bales and it must really like the good stuff from the alfafla bales because it is still trying to push growth while all the rest of my fruit trees are losing leaves.
Now theres a thought. Wonder how all my fruit trees would do if I placed a bale of alfalfa near them and let them decompose? hmmmmmmm. I'm doing it.
Wake Forest, NC

December 1, 2007
3:49 AM

Post #4249133

rayman: that is a good thread you have going in the SW Garden section.

I'm curious as to why the alfalfa bales are not doing as well. Seems like we've had some others use alfalfa w/out any complaints, but I can't remember.

I know we've had some with hay and other grass bales do fine.

Any idea if the alfalfa was treated with herbicides before they were baled and some of the residue affecting your plants? Just throwing that out. No way to tell without an analysis.

Tucson, AZ

December 1, 2007
3:59 AM

Post #4249168

Beats the heck out of me why they are not working.
They stayed hotter for a longer period of time so I'm guessing they have lots of Nitrogen.
Again, thats just a guess. The plants and that plum tree near the alfalfa bales are loving it but any thing I stick in them is struggling.
I even added some new plants recently thinking they are still to rich and same problem. No to little growth.
And when you make alfalfa tea the plants go gaga over the stuff.
So why is this not working?
Yet my straw bales are going gangbusters.

I have no idea if they were treated. Good question.

This message was edited Nov 30, 2007 9:04 PM
Columbus, OH
(Zone 5b)

December 9, 2007
7:43 PM

Post #4277831

Great thread you started (referring to the link) and I also enjoyed your since of humor (referring to the meat thermometer and shoe laces).
I'm surprised that the alfalfa bales didn't work well as the growth hormone that is naturally present in alfalfa should increase their effectiveness.
I wonder if it had anything to do with your bales being 2 years old. Could they have been spent?


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