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Strawbale Gardening: Can you do it organically? How many plants per bale??

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Forum: Strawbale GardeningReplies: 22, Views: 177
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dovey
Columbus, OH
(Zone 5b)

February 6, 2008
2:35 PM

Post #4502070

I sure this has been asked many times before...
But please have mercy on me

1] Can you prepare your bales organically using:
A. Steer Manure
B. Blood Meal
C. Fish Emulsion
D. Alfalfa Tea

2] If your bales sit in the garden for 6 to 8 weeks prior to planting, do you still have to cook or cure them?

3] Is there a guide for the number of plants per bale?
I.E. 2 tomatoes per bale... 3...4...1?
What about cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli?

Thank you in advance for your help
Cheers
Dove
PERRYLAWRENCE
SARANAC, NY
(Zone 4a)

February 6, 2008
2:41 PM

Post #4502086

DOVEY:

all of your questions are answered in the threads - if you would only take time to read them:

dovey
Columbus, OH
(Zone 5b)

February 6, 2008
3:58 PM

Post #4502369

Well - aren't you just a little ray of sunshine :-p

"if you would only take time to read them:

Funny that you should say that Perry... as I mentioned, I was sure the subject had been discussed before and that I requested mercy.
I even said "please".

Perhaps if I said pretty please...

The fact is I have been wading though the posts all morning, none of the questions are addessed in an organized or labled thread.
Gleaning a bit here and there all willy-nilly was consuming more time than I could afford and making my head spin.

If you happened to know the answers to any of my questions a simple yes or no would have taken you less time to write than you snippy reply and would have made my day a little sweeter too.










This message was edited Feb 6, 2008 11:00 AM
KentNC
Wake Forest, NC

February 7, 2008
4:43 AM

Post #4505956

Dove: if you say pretty please WITH a tomato sandwich on top, I'll play with you! :-)

1. Anything that has some nitrogen in it should work. I love ammonium nitrate. It's easy to get in my area.

2. 6 - 8 weeks should be more than enough to prepare your bales without any additives as long as you keep them moist. I'd check the bales after 3 weeks to see if they have soften up some in the middles and have started decomposing.

3. 2 to 4 tomatoes, 2 - 3 peppers, 2 hills of okra, 2 hills of squash, 4 to 6 hills of cukes; no experience with the others.

Kent

P.S. - here's a link to the basics: http://www.carolinacountry.com/cgardens/thismonth/march07guide/StrawBales3.07.pdf

Also, start a diary here. You'll thank yourself for it later. Plus we want to see some pics.

This message was edited Feb 7, 2008 12:40 AM
dovey
Columbus, OH
(Zone 5b)

February 7, 2008
12:35 PM

Post #4506494

Kent
How about a sandwich with heirloom tomatoes and home made mozzarella cheese?

I do appreciate the reply, I've read conflicting statements about absolutely having to use ammonium nitrate and using organic nitrate sources. Getting it straight from the horses mouth is great.

I showed your article to my husband Matt and he was impressed with the tomato arch... oh my gosh that's fantastic. We plan to copy that little trick.

In a couple of weeks, when winter prices recede, we will get all our bales set up and I'll start a thread documenting my organic process. (with pictures)

Thanks again for the info.
locavoricly
Dove

BTW your collards look beautiful, I hope ours turn out as healthy.


LenaBeanNZ
Brisbane
Australia
(Zone 10b)

February 7, 2008
9:21 PM

Post #4508491

Dovey,

I didnt use the ammonium nitrate to cook my bales either.
I used about 3 applications of blood and bone meal (1cup per bale, about 5 days appart) and some strong home made horse manure tea, chunky bits and all.
It took about 3 weeks untill I could plant them.

I put 3 tomatoes/peppers per bale. And about 4 cucumber sets per bale. So far so good. I am half way through my growing season at the moment, everything is getting pretty big and ripening by now.

I do all my gardening strictly organic, and intended to do the same with my strawbales. After planting I continued to feed with b&b meal and the manure tea. I gave an application of store brought organic seaweed tea, which was great. But very costly. I couldnt keep up. I think Kent said to feed about 3 times per week!

I have since given a few additional applications of comercial general purpose fertiliser to only my bale tomatoes, because they just werent keeping up with the others in the ground, and I didnt want to see them do poorly and go to waste because I was to stubborn to feed them. Home made organic preparations (in liquid form) take alot of time and effort as you will know. Feeding my soil with compost and manure every year is alot less complicated.
For a universtity student, I possibly took on a little much by growing 115+ heirloom tomato plants, organically! About 50 of them are in bales, as well as a few peppers and cucumbers.

I think it is possible, but alot more work. Maybe ill grow a few less next year and get it right... Let me know how you go!

Lena
Jnette
Northeast, WA
(Zone 5a)

February 7, 2008
11:05 PM

Post #4508923

Lena that was a very good comprehensive instruction you gave Dove. I think we all could use some of that advice whether we are going completely organic or not. I used to use manure tea, also alfalfa tea is good.

Be sure to take pictures Dove. Lena's are wonderful. Especially this time of year with the snow for most of us.

Here are a couple of pictures I took today from my windows.

We finally got a neighbor to plow the driveway.

Jeanette

Thumbnail by Jnette
Click the image for an enlarged view.

Jnette
Northeast, WA
(Zone 5a)

February 7, 2008
11:07 PM

Post #4508935

These are icicles hanging from the eaves but I couldn't get clear to the bottoms.

Jeanette

Thumbnail by Jnette
Click the image for an enlarged view.

Jnette
Northeast, WA
(Zone 5a)

February 7, 2008
11:09 PM

Post #4508944

One last one, this is my planter on the deck. Looks like I won't be planting it tomorrow does it? LOL

Jeanette

Thumbnail by Jnette
Click the image for an enlarged view.

KentNC
Wake Forest, NC

February 8, 2008
4:50 AM

Post #4510391

Dove: how soon can you get that sandwich down to NC? :-)

Lena: as Jeanette said, great post back to Dovey.

Jeanette: man, look at that snow! We've had just 1 dusting so far this year. Temps have been at record highs. I guess it'll eventually get cold here. I've been riding around with my patrol car windows down all day for the past 2 days, and even had to put the a/c on a few times.

Kent

This message was edited Feb 7, 2008 11:50 PM
dovey
Columbus, OH
(Zone 5b)

February 8, 2008
12:45 PM

Post #4510941

Lena
Great outline, very helpful.
I have always prepared my garden beds using the lasagna method and, with a little patience, had fabulous results.

Now I can't wait to try straw bales. During the summer I pretty much have a continuous batch or Alfalfa Tea brewing, depending on the plant, I water with it once or twice a week. If I plan on using the whole batch at once I add Fish Emulsion, kelp meal and other stinky stuff right before "serving" the tea.

Thank you
Dove

It's not easy being a locavore
dovey
Columbus, OH
(Zone 5b)

February 8, 2008
12:51 PM

Post #4510961

Jeanette
Oh my gosh that's an impressive layer of snow!!!
What part of Washington do you live, it looks a lot like pictures my brother sent of his house. They live in Weston, OR, which I guess in on the boarder of WA & OR.
Is that normal or has it been one of those strange last days weather like of years?

Cheers
Dove
dovey
Columbus, OH
(Zone 5b)

February 8, 2008
12:55 PM

Post #4510970

Kent,
Plan a road trip and come to the ORV round up and just for you we will serve it up on a real fancy paper plate.
http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/809283/
Jnette
Northeast, WA
(Zone 5a)

February 8, 2008
5:50 PM

Post #4512218

Kent, this is a little bit more than normal snowfall for us. About every 7 or 8 years we get this much.

I forgot, that is my hoophouse behind the snowplow. It caved in. It is cattle panels. Hope I can save them. Then my pickup is behind it covered with snow.

Woofie is about 50 miles SW of me.

Jeanette
Gwendalou
Langley, WA
(Zone 7b)

February 11, 2008
12:25 AM

Post #4521362

I used blood meal to start mine cooking. I think it took about 3 weeks. I live on Whidbey Island in Washington. Last year was my first time for strawbaling. I had the best tomatoes I've ever grown.

I put 3 plants per bale. I did tomatoes, green peppers, and a very small cantelope. The cantelope was an experiment. Someone sent me the seeds and we weren't even sure if I'd get fruit. (I did!)

This year I am actually going to 'teach' a very short class on straw bale gardening at our new 4H Food for Thought project. Each month they are going to give a cooking demo and a short gardening class and then we eat the food cooked and talk about sustainable living. This is a new project and my Master Gardener group has hooked up to help with the gardening portion as our intern project. I'm excited about it as I love to cook and garden.

I know what you mean about reading all the posts and finding the info you want. I have followed the strawbale posts for over a year before I tried it last year and it was difficult to get the info you need from the many many posts. The great thing about DG is that we can ask questions and someone will pop up to help, even if the questions have been asked over and over.

I belong to another forum like that, the Green Eggers forum (www.greeneggers.net) and we get the same questions on a daily basis. Yet the same great folks pipe up to help out the newbies and have been doing so for years. Isn't the internet a wonderful thing?

Gwen
Jnette
Northeast, WA
(Zone 5a)

February 11, 2008
6:40 PM

Post #4524494

LOL, Gwen, I sent you the cantaloupe seeds. Did you actually get melons??? I got one!! And, I picked it so it wouldn't freeze because it was so late and I had it on my kitchen counter where it fermented. Gross!!

What are the green eggers? I will look. Yes, the internet is great.

Your teaching the strawbale gardening and also the cooking sounds like a lot of fun.

Jeanette

Gwendalou
Langley, WA
(Zone 7b)

February 12, 2008
12:41 AM

Post #4525834

I got a couple of melons. I didn't eat them because we left them on too long but my husband did pick them off and bring them in. It's hard to say how tasty they would have been. After you told me you didn't think we'd get fruit, I sort of left them alone and by the time I read that people were getting fruit, it was too late. LOL At least now I know I can do melons here! I thought perhaps our weather was too cool. But I'd try the smaller varieties again in an instant.

The Big Green Egg is a ceramic kamado style bbq made by a company called -- what else? -- Big Green Egg. Fabulous group of people. I have met many of them in real life and they are as nice in the flesh as they are online. As have been the DGers I've met!

Gwen
dovey
Columbus, OH
(Zone 5b)

February 12, 2008
1:45 PM

Post #4527684

Gwen,
Learning a new gardening technique and then teaching others is fantastic, good for you.
I find most people who love gardening, love sharing their knowledge as well. (A trait I'm most grateful for)

I bought some Minnesota Midget cantaloupe seeds I plan to try this year, I have high hopes for the little cuties.

Cheers
Dove
The organivore locavore


Jnette
Northeast, WA
(Zone 5a)

February 12, 2008
11:10 PM

Post #4529945

Dove, where did you find those seeds? For the little melons? I don't recall seeing them, but then I don't look real close at the fruit because I am so short on space. But those sound like something I might be able to grow here in our short season.

Jeanette
dovey
Columbus, OH
(Zone 5b)

February 13, 2008
1:19 PM

Post #4532464

I read about the mellons in the Old farmer's Almanac and did a Google search. I was lucky enough to find the seeds at a local nursery packaged by Lake Valley Seed.


Farmer's Almanac also mentioned another midget, it's a small zucchini called "Eight Ball"
http://davesgarden.com/products/ps/go/61055/

You can order both of them from a company called Gourmet Seeds
http://www.gourmetseed.com/squash_zucchini_seed.0.html
http://www.gourmetseed.com/Melon_Seed.0.html

Cheers
Dove

"A poet can survive anything but a misprint"
Oscar Wilde
Jnette
Northeast, WA
(Zone 5a)

February 13, 2008
4:40 PM

Post #4533277

Thanks Dove.

Jeanette
dovey
Columbus, OH
(Zone 5b)

February 13, 2008
4:50 PM

Post #4533339

My pleasure, let me know if you try them.
Jnette
Northeast, WA
(Zone 5a)

February 13, 2008
5:28 PM

Post #4533541

I will. Right now I have a lot of seeds, purchased, and given to me, and I am running out of room. I don't know how anybody gets 3 plants per bale, unless their bales are bigger than mine. The ones I work with will only handle 2.

Jeanette

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Other Strawbale Gardening Threads you might be interested in:

SubjectThread StarterRepliesLast Post
Straw bale gardening: no weeding, no hoeing, no tilling KentNC 274 Oct 18, 2009 1:58 AM
Strawbale Gardening (part 7) Jnette 126 Mar 20, 2007 9:51 AM
Straw Bale Gardening LauraK 49 Apr 2, 2008 12:02 AM
Straw Bale Gardening (Part 8) KentNC 114 Apr 2, 2007 5:32 PM
Straw Bale Gardening (Part 9) KentNC 124 Apr 21, 2007 12:39 AM


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