We will be rolling out several small fixes mid-day today (Jan 29.) We do not anticipate any disruptions or problems, but f you spot any unexpected issues after 12 noon (PST), please report them in the designated thread in the DG Site Updates forum.
Jerry, I am growing Arkansas Traveler, Crista (which was recommended by the LSU AG center, guess good for this climate in Louisiana), several Brandywine, Better Boy, and Super Tasty. Brandywine (first year to grow) sure does take some time, I guess. Mine are, anyway.
My first try to terminate the soaker was with the plastic figure "8" used for 1/2" solid plastic hose drip irrigation systems. To use the Figure "8" insert the hose in one side of the 8 and bend the hose back 180º putting a crimp in the hose, then slide the 8 over the free end of the hose holding the crimp. The "8" didn't work on the soaker even though it fit nicely. The soaker blew a big hole at the crimp.
I use a quick couple on the female hose end. This works well for me since I have soakers on all my dirt rows and drip lines on all my elevated (container) plants. If I am sowing seed in a dirt row, I lay the soakers down on the row and then sow seed along either side of the hose.
I cut one wire coat hanger to make two approx 8" staples that will fit over the soaker into the soil to anchor it in place.
If you install a 1/2" female hose connector on the cut off piece it can be used else where.
Note: In the female connector of the new soakers there is a solid disk with a tiny hole in the center. This regulates water pressure so as not to blow holes in the sponge. To use the cut off pieces I improvised a replacement disk out of scrap plastic I had around the place here.
This disk thing is new. For years we had soakers without any disks and we just controlled the water pressure with a hose bib or some kind of hose cut-off inserted between the hose end and the soaker.
The soakers I am using this year I got at ACE HW. They are 50' x 1/2" ($9.95) and have a female hose fitting on one end and a male hose fitting on the other end with a plastic hose cap to terminate. This is a useful feature if you wanted a soaker longer than 50', just connect two soakers together.
They make a brass fitting that will connect two male hose ends together (think washing machine hose). One of these adapters can be attached to the male end of the cut off piece of soaker which makes a female hose end. All that's left to do is to terminate this ready to use soaker.
Jerry, I forgot what you were doing to start out. The 50' was too long? So, you put it on a different row? How far apart were the rows? i.e. how long was the coupling pvc?
You are not using these to water your bales with tomatoes or whatever? You are using them for seed starting? So, then what do you water your bales with?
I finally got my bales started today. I took my claw out and roughed up the straw where I was going to plant my tomatoes and put most of the fertilizer in there and then watered the whole bale good. I could just hear that old farmer crying when he saw me turn the hose on those bales he took so much work in keeping dry all winter. No, he didn't actually see me.
Anyway, my tomatoes are about 15" tall already and I still have a long way to go to plant them. Oh, BTW, I paid $6 per bale for approx. 40% alfalfa and the rest orchard grass. I think Timothy. It looks it. Pretty green in there. Bet it will be good nitrogen.
So, you put it on a different row? Yes, used it on a dirt row.
How far apart were the rows? I only have one row of nine straw bales.
i.e. how long was the coupling PVC? Can you ask this question in another way. I don't understand the question in relation to my posts.
You are not using these to water your bales with tomatoes or whatever? If this question is in regards to the plastic drip irrigation system the answer is no.
You are using them for seed starting? When seed are direct sown in the rows it is best if the sponge soaker is put down before the seed are sown. Laying the soaker once the seedlings begin to emerge destroys too many seedlings.
So, then what do you water your bales with? I water the straw bales with a sponge soaker hose.
I use the PVC drip irrigation system to direct water up to separate containers sitting on the ground.
The soaker hose lays on the ground and is good for long rows. The water droplets fall straight down and spread thru out the soil.
Im in the process of heating up my bales. Several of the bales are overrun with wheat grass. It looks like a turf farm. I looked at other peoples pictures and they do not have near as much wheat grass. I thought I'd take out a weed eater and ive them a trim before I plant. Thoughts?
Here is how I hooked up my irrigation system. I set a single zone timer on the Spicket at the house. It is set to run from 4:30 am to 5:15: am. I have the hose from the house connected to the 4 zone timer you can see hanging on the T-Pole. Four, 1/2 inch PVC pipes connect to the 4 zone timer. I run 1 1/2 inch PVC pipe down and underground (about 3 inches) to each of the 4 sections of bales. Each bale PVC is connected to a 50 foot soaker hose. The timer turns each zone on for 10 minutes at a time. So I set the first zone to turn on at 4:31 am and from that point each zone runs sequentially for 10 minutes each and all 4 complete by 5:10 am. The only reason I put a timer on the house spicket was to protect against a potential hose burst or leak. The system works very well as the only real "chore" I have now is to keep the wheat grass down. That is not a real problem because I look forward to going out to the garden every day after work anyway!!!!
We planted 60 'Kennebec's & 30 Red Pontiac's in first bed."On The Right"
This bed is made up of a duke mixture..First layer 2" grass fresh cut
"3 days old" Second layer 5" of mulched leaves..Third layer 2" of old straw
Now the potatoes..Forth layer 5" of old straw.. I found it very hard to get the leaves in second layer wet...I'm thinking that time will get them wet..
The ground is wet below & the straw is wet above it..We'll see if this experiment is any good..LOL Shirley says I'm Crazy..But she knew that before she said I DO..LOL
Finished bed..Orange snow fence is to keep my 4 dogs OUT..LOL
I don't have puppy prison to put them in LOL
The left bed is easier ..Tilled as in first bed..Layed seed potatoes on top of the ground..Covered with a mix of mulched straw and leaves..Also Kennebecs from our garden last year..And the rest of the Red Pontiacs Total # of seed potatoes planted 150..If we have any sucess at all, we will have to learn how to store these babies correctly..LOL
Gotta say, you guys are petty ingenious. Looks great. Now, I never would have thought to put the fencing that way. I do that for my peonies etc. but only to keep the flowers upright. Not to keep the animals out. LOL
24to1, my lawn never looked so good as when I had a regular timed watering. Best thing there is for a plant of any kind. My opinion.
OK, I just knew it. I have two problems. Most of my bales get full sun from mid-morning to late afternoon. My zucchini, peppers and cukes are wilting a bit. The bales are thoroughly watered. The only plant that doesn't wilt is a cuke that is in filtered sunlight . As soon as the sun moves over they perk right up. Does anyone else have this problem?
Second problem: Can I be over fertilizing my tomatoes? They seem to be a bit too dark green. They are setting fruit so I have been fertilizing once a week. One week with crab meal and the next with 10-10-10. How do I know how much to fertilize?
Some wilting during the hottest part of the day is OK so long as roots are growing in a moist but not wet growing medium.
10-10-10 every two weeks if it's granular may be a little too much depending on how much you apply, but as long as the plants are setting fruit and there is no evidence of leaf burn from too much fert then continue doing what works for you.
I alernate between 6-12-6 Medina Hasta Gro for Plants (1 oz/gal water) and 18-18-21 Miracle Grow Tomato (1 Tbl/gal water) about every 5-8 days applies as foliar and as a pour on. The plants are doing fine.
I'd be careful using that 10-10-10. I used it one time last year and it caused the bales to start cooking again causing some plants to fry. I just used a slow release fertilizer ONE time (after that experience) during the beginning and never fertilized again. Everything did great.
OMG, I almost did fry my plants! One minute they seemed ok, the next they were so wilted and curled up I thought that they had been broken. I flushed them with water to get some of the fertilizer out and they have recovered enough that I think they will survive. The good news is that our night temps have dropped down in to the 50's so that should cool things down a bit, plus we had a chilly rain all day.
I never used 10-10-10 before so I think that I will stick with what I know.
OK, I need some advice here. Will my bales hold up for the whole season? Some are down about a quarter their size and very crumbly. Should I think about starting new bales to stretch the season? I never had any veggies producing this fast and early.
The next question is when do I fertilize again? The last time I did was May 9 and I used 10-10-10 and it was way too much.
Helen, I'm not sure what to tell you. You said you over fertilized them because you normally under fertilizze, but you have never had veggies produce so much and so fast.
If you over fertilized May 9th, you know, why don't you try a slow release? They say that will not burn. You can get it for 4, 6, 9, or 12 months I think. Why not get some that will last you through your season, however many months that is, and then don't fertilize again.
As far as the bales crumbling goes, why not maybe pack some extra straw around them and try not to water so much. Maybe that will hold them. This might be a good one for Kent to answer since he is near you. I am just guessing here.
Maybe "crumble" was the wrong word but I feel like I can crush them down into a pancake and they pull apart very easily. On the other hand they aren't a soggy mess either and there is no bad odor. I am just surprised how fast they have broken down, but my plants seem happy.
I can't get my head around the fact that gardening in coastal NC is totally different than in CT. At least in my part of NC. I have awful soil that I have been trying to build up for five years and some parts of my garden have responded but nada, zilch, zero, nothing, in other parts. I am so thrilled with the bale gardening to think that I may actually get a good tasting tomato, oh my.
Well, I'm hoping that the bales are at the point where they should be but I think I will get some new ones and get them going just in case.
What do you mean, "water soluble"? I use triple 20 water soluble all the time. Why would that be a problem?
My problem is that the tomatoes I am trying to plant are too big. I can't get holes big enough for them. I got them from my sister who grows them in her greenhouse and they are over 2 feet tall and very lush. Blooming, but no fruit.
NOW I'm envious! I have one Grape tomato that is going crazy with growth. It has now climbed over to bale number three and is over 3 and ahalf feet tall, and covered with green marble sized tomatoes. My Better Boy and Brandy wine are just now blooming and havent gotten as big as I thought they should.
I was sure hoping that I would have 'maters by now. Your Black Krimm sure looks good, Jerry!
This is my first year and here this is a pic of my bale garden. I have twelve bales containing thirty tomato plants most of which are various heirlooms. I also have a few different kinds of peppers set out too.
I planted the last week of april and had a frost scare one night in may when we covered everything up. So far everything seems to be doing well. Many of the tomato plants have fruit on them now.
Today we are working on setting some posts for a trellis system so these plants have somewhere to climb as they grow.
I can't hardly wait until I can taste one of these tomatoes!
Jeff Your garden is so neat and pretty! I bet those tomatoes are really strong and will bear a lot of fruit , just look how straight and tall they are! Congrats on a beautiful garden. Believe me I am taking notes from every body! My next attempt I will be more careful about spacing and not overcrowding.
Making holes in my straw bales...I didn't have a eufaulatum".It must have been thrown away Grrrrrr But craftsman to the rescue.. Planted 8 brussel sprouts..6 Cukes..5 Egg plant...7 Peppers (5 green & 2 red)
These are in straw...I think I should have been watering them more..Been checking better lately..I was scared I would cause them to rot if they were to wet..But when checking the straw was dry around the potato set...I will do a better job of fluffing the straw..Been finding clumps of hard straw.. We will still have a good crop at harvest..I'm ready for New Potato's in milk gravy..Muuuuummmm
Omaha is 35 Minutes..Offutt Air base (SAC HQ) is close to an hour drive from Ames...
Ames is 7 miles from Fremont which is west of Omaha..Omaha gets closer to Fremont all the time..In 1981 I would have said its close to 45 or 50 minutes drive time...
Use to be a lot more corn fields ect..Between here & Omaha
tubbytee, Craftsman what? Kent's easy. You gotta draw me a picture. I know, I know, you posted a picture. I do not recognize that particular tool. Ok, looked again. It's the way you have it sitting. It's a drill with what appears to be a door knob hole maker. BUT, it looks too big for any door knob I ever saw. So, I'm back to square one.
Jeanette it is a hole saw..They come in various size's...This was already set up ready to use.. I was making squirrel feeders & coffee can bird house's..
It worked quite well for making planting holes, since I don't have permit that would allow me to use the eufaulatum...LOL
I must file for permit to use the "Socketuem" ..We always have trouble with that cuke & squash beetle..Thriving plant one day dead the next..Very disheartening to see a beautiful acorn squash or a nice cuke vine shrivel up & die over night
Did I do something wrong? I was able to make the holes with my hands with no trouble. My yellow scallop squash is about to fall out of the side of the bale. My bales seem to be falling apart very quickly.
Dropping in to let you know our second year with strawbales is different.
Last year, I had annuals and herbs as companion plants.
Well.. this year, DH don't want any 'sissy' plants next to his tomatoes :D
I had herbs and 'scabiosa' coming back up from last year's decomposed bales!
I think the difference on how easy/difficult cutting the holes are is how much they have decomposed. Sally says hers were very easy, but in the next sentence she says the bales were falling apart. Decomposed. When Kent first started this, he was telling us to take a stiff spatula and wedge the bale apart and put the roots down then push it back together.
Now we are wanting holes to put soil in. There is a big difference.
Wow Digger Sally!!! What is Coastal? What does that mean? I have been working with mine for a month now and even the chainsaw didn't work. I also tried the door hole maker the other day and it didn't work either. They are hay.
I finally got my DH to take a 6" round metal tube and with a 2x4 and a hammer he pounded a hole out of them. Actually smashed the tube before he was done. Not much left of it.
Coastal is another burmuda that withstands heat and does well in dryer climates . It isn't for lawns , but great for livestock . We socked the nitrogen to it for four days and it heated to 130 . Some of my bales were so hot I couldn't get my hands in there . I planted some toms that cooked and had to be replaced . I'd like to have a bale of alfalfa on my porch just to smell , but it is'nt grown here . Too hot and dry. It isn't course like straw and the finer leaves break down faster . digger
Digger... Now you know good and well if that deer came up on your porch it wouldnt be able to leave because you would turnit into another Pet or family member... IF it was brazen enough to come up on the porch you would think that was the cutest thing! Wouldnt NO body be able to put it in the Freezer, Mama Digger would be a'chasin Them down the road with the Shotgun!!LOL!!
I planted in my hay bales six weeks ago and everything looks to be doing well so far. I have thirty-one tomato plants which represent twenty-three varieties, most of which are heirloom tomatoes. I also have fourteen pepper plants in bales.
I have a couple of early girl hybrids which are coming on nicely with some nice size fruit already.
I have found two tomatoes with BER. One on a Cherokee Purple and the other on an Indiana Red. I picked them and tossed them. All of the other tomatoes even on those same plants seem to be ok. Is there anything that I should do about this? Will this affect the other tomatoes on those plants as well?
Thank you for all of your help!
Here is a pic where you can see the early girls pretty well.
Jeff, I have heard 2 schools of thought on the BER. One is that they need more calcium. The second is that it is caused by irregular watering. It could be that because the bale gardening is new to you that you don't have your watering down yet?
Hi you guys, It has been hot and wet here and the mosquitoes are awful. They are absolutely huge.
The good news is that I picked two cukes and a few frying peppers. My cherry tomatoes are turning red and I should be able to pick in a few days. I have nice size zukes-enough for sauteing in butter and a little garlic. I have planted melons four times now and the next day they are completely gone. I put scarlet runner beans in their place just to see what happens and to please the humming birds
My one concern is that the bale that the cherry tomatoes are in has sunk down to half the size of the others. The roots are showing so I covered them with potting soil. It isn't even half way through June so I can't imagine that this bale will last the season. This seasons hay has not been cut yet so I'm sure that the bales that are left from last year must be pretty pricey now.
All in all, I'm so pleased with bale gardening and am just amazed at all the vegies that we will finally have.
It may well be my watering... I really don't know how to gauge when enough is enough. We water daily when we don't get rain... I am wondering with the bales if they really don't need watered twice a day when its hot. Seems like they dry out a lot on when the temps have been in the eighties.
Kent , those links have helped me more to id my problem , and last years , than anything I've seen . Just glad I continued to use Neem , the correct ingredent within . The closeups on the Cornell site made id easy . thanks so much . digger
Jeanette 1 bale has 3 squash, the next has 2 bell peppers, the next has 2 egg plant, next 2 white tomato and last 3 intermediate red tomato. The bales across the back have 2 cucumber, 1 Italian frying pepper and the third has 3 Burgess climbing tomatoes. There is one small marigold in each bale.
I was checking them out today. The bale with the squash is falling apart the most. I even had to pull it out a little bit because it was covering the bell peppers. The others are falling apart where they were butted up together. The string is coming to the top and looks loose. I think the others will be ok but I may need to build some kind of frame around the squash. This is my first year growing any kind of veggie so I am learning a lot. My tomatoes have blooms so hopefully tomatoes and squash soon.
I think if you decide to do this next year Betty that maybe you should frame them in like some of the people do. Or not put so many plants in them. It sounds like the squash roots do a number on the bales.
Maybe that is what I should plant. I can't get my bales to decompose at all.
I've enjoyed my first time ever growing in straw bales this year. I did 9 bales this year and just a few minutes ago I committed to 30 of last year's bales. I wanted 50, but due to the drought here hardly anyone grew wheat this year and of what they grew the straw isn't worth the cost to bale it. The farmer I spoke with is running his combine in his wheat field this week, but he told me what's there isn't worth baling.
We've had 9 straight days with temps in triple digits with the same forecast for the next 10 days. So, I thought I had better get a couple pics of my straw bale garden before everything turns brown.
Triple digits are BAD news. This is what happened to my Sweet Bite cherry tomato plant after our January heatwave peaked at 47C/116F this year. What really ticked me off was the fact that the week before the heatwave I had just picked my first 4 ripe tomatoes and Mum said they were the best tomatoes she had ever tasted, so we were looking forward to a great crop over the summer. GRRR!
The same here strawbales are falling apart...but still pulling very large squash and tomato's are starting to set nicely. Temps over 100 degrees here and winds blowing an average of 30 mph not good for any garden...tomato plants curl alot during the heat but still getting tomato's. Still loving the straw gardens..
KK, I am so sorry about your plants, but you know what, mine look almost that bad and it isn't from the heat. We are still in the 60s here. Just can't get any heat. I am sure it will turn around before it snows. Probably the week before.
No such luck Jeanette, they are cooked to a crisp and completely dead. Actually, that photo is months old. The tomato "corpses" are long gone and the bales are decomposed down to half their former height (see attached photo). I wasn't very happy with the "pea straw" bales at all - they just didn't hold enough water for the plant's needs in our hot summer.
It's midwinter here now, and I am wondering what to do next - try for a winter crop, or wait until spring and start again. At least it gives me some time to look for "real" bales, LOL! This winter we are getting actual RAIN - after so many dry years it is a bit of a shock to the system. You can check out our recent weather here: http://www.weatherzone.com.au/station.jsp?lt=site&lc=23090&list=ds and our general climate pattern here: http://www.weatherzone.com.au/climate/station.jsp?lt=site&lc=23090 We are still on water restrictions though, because the local dams have a long way to go to fill properly, so anything that falls out of the sky on my tiny patch I am very grateful for!
I hope all of you are well and I look forward to doing better next summer.
Somebody asked me to share the method I used to grow lettuce/greens from seed on the tops of the bales:
I spread a very thin layer of soil on top of bales, broadcasted the seeds, and then covered with peat so that it would keep the water in while the seeds germinated. Worked well for chard and mixed greens. They came up in 2 days.
We had some very cold temps (40s and 50s during the day) and at one point I covered the tops with plastic to warm the seeds while they were germinating. I dont think that this would be necessary if you have milder days.
I haven't had a garden in many years, so I'm pretty much a newb, all over again. I have so enjoyed this forum about straw bale gardening that I have spent several hours here, today. :)
This is my first time to use straw bales - and if I had known how great it was going to be, I would have covered the whole back yard with rows of bales, instead of just the four bales I have planted. And I'd have mulched heavily between the rows with newspaper and MORE straw, to keep the garden area weedless and bermuda-grass-less. :)
I took a few weeks to prepare the bales, but I still didn't want to take a chance that all the "heat" wasn't cooked out of them, so I bought a bunch of dishpans at the Dollar Tree and filled them with Miracle Gro potting soil. There are big holes cut out of the bottoms of the dishpans, so the plants have had the benefit of good starting medium but they can send down roots when they want to. They have apparently already made themselves at home because the dishpans don't budge.
The potting soil gives me a good place to plant bush beans and garlic among all the cucurbitae - those were always my favorite companion plants. One dishpan is full of Roma flat beans, intensively planted at only 3" apart. The rest contain zucchini, crookneck, Lambkin and Ambrosia melons and Greensleeves cucumbers.
I think the dishpans are also keeping a lot of water in the bale - I don't water those, any more - I just soak the potting soil very well once a day. I'm going to be putting up a misting system right above them in the next few days to keep my deck pleasant. I think it will be great for all the plants, too. They are already drooping in the hottest part of the day, so I may provide some shade as well as the misters.
I'm also trying lasagna or sheet composting. I just have the four bales, a huge compost row and a deck full of containers. I only planted the compost pile a few days ago - I planted it very intensively, just in case the germination is low. I hope that will turn into a blooming green corner instead of the eyesore that it is at the moment.
I'm hooked on the bales, though. I'm going to look for someone who will deliver a bunch to me here so that I can let them sit and cook in this Texas sun until it's time to put in the fall plants.
All we have here is clay/cement. A half-hour's worth of rain will turn the yard into a sticky mess. Two days of no rain and it's concrete, again. But, a few years of bale gardening and this place could be the most beautiful yard in the neighborhood. :)
Not particularly creative on my part - just necessity. :)
I have so enjoyed all the pictures and methods you all have shared - it's always nice to find other people who have the same insanities as you do. ;)
The white "planters" on the deck behind the hay bales are styrofoam coolers from Dollar Tree. They are an experiment this year and if they work, all my deck plants are going to get them next year. Some of them have been planted for two months and so far, so good. Being thick and white, the coolers reflect the sun and don't cook the roots. Cheaper than planters and very nice looking. I'm trying squash, cantaloupe, tomatoes, peppers and flowers in them this year - if it looks like they are getting too small, I'll just cut the bottoms off and set them on the compost pile. Some of the planters, I cut the top halves off and use the bottoms for flowers and use the tops for little "retaining walls" to hold good soil - I started pole beans and bush beans in those. The beans got off to a great start and keeping moist soil on top of the "cement" allowed them to put roots into the ground. When they break down, I will crumble them and mix the crumbs into the compost pile to lighten the clay here.
Just one cute little note to close - I took some very black bananas and cantaloupe rind out this morning and just dropped them between the piles of leaf mold and loose hay and went to do something else for a minute. When I turned around, my Lab was nosing around there and while I watched, she covered the fruit with about six inches of hay and leaf mold and tucked it all in. A furry gardener who actually helps. :)
Hi there and thank you - I am so happy just to sit out there and watch everything growing. It's kind of a mess tonight because I was doing a lot of work, but I'll get it set nicely tomorrow and take a couple of pictures.
Lovely gardening day today! I started early so that I could get everything well soaked and all the heavy stuff done. Then I put in the new misting system around my deck - it is a very well thought out system and super easy to put up. (Misty Mate 30) Got it hooked up and running at the hottest part of the day. 102º in my yard, but the deck felt like a very comfortable 80 or 85 within seconds of turning it on. And it's apparently even more effective in very dry air.
I left it on for an hour - despite the heat, nothing was drooping in my little garden except me and even I felt better after sitting in the misty shade for a while with a couple of glasses of ice-water.
I hope that tomorrow, I can start putting up the muslin "ceiling" inside the deck. I bought a bolt of muslin that turned out to be not quilt quality, but it was so cheap that I figure I can use it for one summer and put it under a lasagna bed in the fall. I might make a little awning for over my strip of bales, too. Those poor plants get sun from early in the morning to at least 6 or 7 at night and sometimes, they're really droopy by noon.
All of the squash, cucumbers and melon plants already have blossom buds coming on - and these bales seem to support more plants than I imagined. I can't wait to order in more bales to overwinter for next year. I don't know what kind of straw I have but apparently it was seedless, because I haven't had one sprout of grass out of mine.
Has anyone used baled alfalfa? Or maybe that's too green for bale gardening? I did get some alfafa pellets yesterday, so I need to go find that thread where everyone was talking about them and figure out which plants will benefit from them. :)
QG, I am going to have to google your misting system. It sounds very nice.
I used hay 40% alfalfa this year and haven't had any luck with it at all. I can't imagine why 'cause everyone else swore by it last couple of years. I had much better luck with the straw. Something wrong here.
What are you going to do with the alfalfa pellets? Feed the animals? I made a tea out of some last year and it smelled so bad I had to dump it out and cover it up. LOL, really was yucky. But, the plants I did put it on loved it.
Let me know bout your misting system, where you got it and how much it covers.
So, some people have good luck with alfalfa bales and some don't, hm? Wonder what the differences are. Hm...
Apparently, the alfalfa pellets that the pet store sells for rabbits is really good for some plants, like tomatoes - you just mix a little into the top inch of soil. Alfalfa has some plant hormone in it that really makes plants grow - and I imagine quite a bit of other things that plants need. That's why I thought maybe alfalfa bales might be even more productive than straw.
I'll nose around for some of the past discussions on the different types of bales.
The misting system I found first on eBay, but it was a lot cheaper at Costco.com - with free shipping, two systems came to $62.00, where one system was going to cost right about that from some eBay sellers. (although I think the price *is* dropping for these. If you have a Sam's membership, I'm sure they have something similar.
The system is a 1/2" hose with emitters about every 18" and it starts with ten feet of plain line for hookup. There are little tap-in clamps that you use to secure the hose so that the misters are oriented the way that you want them. I haven't done the clamps yet - I put the system up first with cable ties, just to see how to position everything. It's fully functional now, but the clamps make the system more neat and attractive.
You just flush the line, screw in the first three or four mister plugs and tap the hose into the clamps. Repeat until the whole system is done. It sounds a lot more difficult than it is. That part of the job only took a half hour - the time consuming part was figuring out where to put the Y-connector on the deck, how to run the supply hose to it and cutting up one of my hoses to make it neater.
I don't get around too well, but I managed it with no trouble at all. If I can do it, anyone can. :) And I know the plants are going to appreciate a couple of hours' cooling break on those suffocatingly hot days that are on their way.
QG, I don't think you should really consider my experience with the alfalfa bales because this year our weather has been so cold that I don't think anything would work. From the sounds of the others, I think the alfalfa bales are a good way to go.
As far as the pellets go, from what I have learned, you need to get the kind with molasses in them. I think that is the activator that makes them work. Just my opinion, so do some research yourself.
This is where we are lucky now to have the internet. It saves a lot of legwork.
Mercy! Molasses too? Geesh, I would think that I'd really have an ant problem with that kind of mix. I'll look that up - I do remember someone talking about a molasses recipe, but I didn't think it had anything to do with the alfalfa.
Yes, I love the internet! :)
I was about to give up on having a "real" vegetable garden this year - or maybe ever, in this house - the soil is so terrible here.
I was thinking I'd have to build raised beds, truck in tons of compost and greensand and manure and hay and spread it all. Plus build supports and keep it all watered? I couldn't manage that level of activity and I don't have the budget that allows me to pay someone else to do it for me, either.
But then I found out about straw bales and lasagna gardens and the ideas were just brilliant and so common sense wonderful. No spading and digging to inflame the parts of me that have gotten a little "rusty," and builds the soil, too.
My only regret is that I didn't buy a LOT more bales. :)
Hi all, I am putting this year of bale gardening as a learning experience. I have no idea what I was thinking when I started my first bales. I guess I never thought that this would work so well. I put my bales up against our house foundation figuring that I could use the deck railing as a support. Then I put the zuke bales in front of the pepper bales. Really bad ideas. The tomatoes are growing up and over the railing and are now about four feet along the top. The zukes totally shaded out the peppers and I could not even get near them. I finally just pulled them out. The cukes are intertwined with the jasmine growing on the deck. It looks like the Amazon forest out there.
The good news is that I have tons of the most wonderful cherry tomatoes! The peppers are finally happy and are producing nicely. I use the broken down zuke bale to fill in around the tomatoes and peppers and I am finding worms in the bale...I am so happy to see fat and healthy worms at last.
How great that you have worms! (now there's a phrase you don't hear very often ;) )
I wish I'd planted a couple of tomatoes in the bales. I definitely will next year.
I will also stake the bales before I start soaking them. They're collapsing at the ends and the dishpans that I put on top are tilted at crazy angles. Next year, I'll butt them tightly together, stake the ends, wrap the sides with plastic and put the tall support system in before I even start watering.
You guys did great. Both of you. Yes, please put tomatoes in them. You will never regret it . You will have a ball planning your garden this winter. But CG you are in Tx. So, when do you start all over again? Sorry to be so dumb about your area but there is a big difference between yours and mine.
And yes, the worms mean you did a truly good job on your bales. Very good.
Jenette, I might take a break in January, but I think we have to work around the summer heat more than the winter cold, down here. This is my first garden since we moved here (and my first real garden in many years) so I'm really a newbie to Texas gardening.
And things have changed SOOOOO much since my last real garden. I used to try to do everything prescribed by Rodale - raised beds, digging, turning, adding amendments, mulching, companion planting, intensive planting - gardening needed a lot more "sweaty work" than this bale concept does. My physical condition doesn't allow me to do that heavy stuff any more, so I am really excited about this and you're right - already looking forward to planning next year's garden. There won't be much grass in the back yard, but the dogs will enjoy running through the maze of bales. :)
I imagine most of my gardening will be indoors in Feb-Mar, getting seeds started, turning the compost beds and setting up the framework in which to put the bales next year. Drip system, weed barriers, tall supports, etc.
I'm about to start seed indoors for the fall/winter garden - I plan to do lettuces, pole beans, bush beans, brassicas, root crops, tomatoes, summer squash, winter squash, potatoes. Lots of things that I used to do in Feb & March, plus the things I used to do in July and Aug. I will put them all in bales or on compost piles, though.
Yes, there's a huge difference between your area and mine!
I'm allergic to that white stuff y'all have in winter, but boy on days like this, I could definitely enjoy a cool, clean wind and a slow rain. :) It's only 87º today, but it's very humid, so the misters on my deck don't feel like they're doing anything. I got the hardest chores done early today and I'll dink around some more when the sun is down.
I can't believe how wonderful this bale gardening is - the straw inside the bales is soft and cool and wet and everything is flourishing except some of the poor zucchini and crookneck plants that have fallen prey to borers. The Lambkin melon has gone insane and acts as if it will creep in and raid the fridge one night - if it produces as well as it grows, I will be delirious! :) It is about twice as full as the Ambrosia melons planted at the same time.
So far my little garden has given me quite a few wonderful tomatoes, cucumbers and crookneck squash. Oh and lots of flowers! :)
On June 25, I took the picture of my dishpan bales a little farther up the thread, but this is what the same area looked like three days ago:
I'll have to try to get some pictures, today - you won't believe the difference. The deck is now completely covered with vines and the lawn is completely covered with bales.
Some of the bales, I'm going to do the "quick aging" thing with but most of them will just winter out in the open. I'm wrapping the sides with 4mil clear plastic, but haven't put up any trellising frames because I'm not sure where I'm going to put stuff yet.
Thirty bales in my small yard. Oh well. If it's worth doing, it's worth overdoing... that's my motto! ;)
Jnette, you are so right! Last time I tried moving the bales after a couple of weeks of soaking and it was impossible for me to do it alone, so I left them where they were. There were 8-12" gaps between them, which led to the bales collapsing at the ends - not good.
But, my regular landscaping guys came today and moved the "fall/winter" bales around a bit for me so now those are ready for me to wrap up and start soaking. Yippeee! :)
I'm not really sure, Jnette - I haven't had a real garden in years so I'm just studying the Texas Gardening forum and trying a few things. ;)
When I first started this garden, I couldn't wait to put in the fall garden. But, it seems like I no sooner get one pest under control than another one shows up. At the moment, it's aphids and slugs. I think I'm getting nature fatigue! ;)
Difficulty: EasyInstructionsThings You'll Need:
Beneficial plant list, to attract "good" bugs. It is extensive, so seed list will follow.
Insecticide- to kill existing bugs: Ivory Soap, two cups of water, 1/4 cup corn oil.
Preventative plant list, also to follow, no special instructions
Step 1http://www.zinkwazi.com/blog/index.php?showimage=773Put in plants from the following list to ATTRACT BENEFICIAL insects (preventative plants are listed below).
To attract ladybugs which eat aphids: parsley, wild buckwheat, white sweet clover, tansy, sweet fennel, sweet alyssum, spearmint, Queen Anne's lace, hairy vetch, flowering buckwheat, crimson clover, cowpeas, common knotweed, caraway and black locust.
Marigolds also attract hover flies.
Sunflowers attract aphids AWAY from other plants and are hearty enough to withstand them.
Dill attracts aphid predators and parasites.
Asters attract Honeybees and Ichneumonid wasps.
Step 3Insecticide: Put one bar of Ivory Soap into the two cups of water and let it sit till the soap dissolves.
Separate what's left of the solids and discard.
Mix with the corn oil in a spray bottle.
Apply to whole plant, including the tops and bottoms of the leaves.
Step 4Put in plants from the following List to PREVENT harmful insects. Simply scatter them among the existing plants, or set them in a border around the perimeter of your garden. Different people recommend different methods. Some plants attract harmful insects, so you may want to plant them somewhat separate from your garden.
Step 5Plant mint, marigolds, borage, garlic and basil (yum!) to keep out a general host of bugs. More specifically:
Interplant Radish in your rows to keep away Striped Cucumber Beetle and Root-knot nematodes.
Japanese beetles are repelled by chrysanthemums, chives and catnip
Nasturtium repels Colorado Potato Beetle.
Ohmigoodness, all this info in one spot! Thanks so much!
I really do try to use organic, integrated methods because I think they cause fewer unwanted side effects than the chemical measures to which I do resort. But, the problem got ahead of me so fast that the spray had to come out.
The aphids seem to be under control again, and now I know for next year what I need to plant more of to call more ladybugs into my garden.
But, what are hoverflies? Are those a good bug? What do they do?
I am sure all of what Tubby says is helpful, but I'm telling you the best thing I have found to get rid of aphids is to use a real strong spray of your garden hose to them. You may have to do this each week until they are gone.
I didn't read all of Tubby's post, but for slugs, they do not like coffee grounds or Diatomatious Earth. The coffee grounds scratch their bellys and the DE cuts them.
Fresh garlic planted in the vegetable garden repels aphids and Japanese beetles. Moles and mice will not eat your onions if you plant garlic among the onion plants.
Plant a clove of unpeeled garlic at regular intervals by pushing the large end of the clove into the dirt with the pointed end just under the surface of the soil.
When the garlic blooms, harvest the fresh garlic for household use and replant another clove for continuous protection.
Chives and Leeks
Consider chives and leeks to repel the carrot fly. Carrot flies do not just attack carrots. These are easy plants to use and they will improve the garden health as well.
The tomato worm will scurry away if you plant borage and tomato plants together. Borage is a starflower and an annual herb. Use it to flavor foods while cooking as well.
Slugs will not go near spinach. So, plant spinach anywhere you can. Use the fresh spinach leaves in salads.
Mint and rosemary, when planted in the vegetable or flower garden, discourage insects from laying eggs. The cabbage moth, in particular, will no longer be a problem.
Thyme plants repel cabbageworms. This is an herb as well; simply pinch some fresh leaves when desired for cooking.
Tansy and Mint
Tansy, an herb, keeps mosquitoes and beetles away. Plant tansy in the garden or in containers on the deck and windowsills. Achieve the same effect by planting tansy indoors.
Mint and tansy planted together keeps ants at bay. Plant these herbs indoors or out. Place the plants near a windowsill or an entrance that ants use.
Many gardeners use marigolds in the vegetable garden in addition to the flower garden to deter insects and bugs. Japanese beetles and nematodes will not be around to cause damage to your plants if marigolds are planted nearby.
Insect Resistant Plants
Buy new plants that are insect resistant. Many plants are now hybrids with natural resistance qualities in the plant itself.
Using natural plants, insect-resistant plants and herbs, is a win-win situation for you. You will have fewer bugs to fight and you will now have fresh herbs for the dinner table.
Jnette, the hosing down is what I'm doing now. It about pulls the plant out of the soil and blows it down the street, but when the stem bounces back to me, most of those dang things are gone. I don't know why but aphids just gross me out so badly, you'd think they were scorpions or something. ;)
I am up to my ears in coffee grounds that I've been saving to put into the compost pile, so I'll put them on my plants instead. And I will not let myself run out of DE again, either!
Tubby, I'm taking notes - I had to smile - it's been a long time since I had a garden, but when I started this one, I planted garlic cloves around all the melons and tomatoes and peppers and other edibles - old habits die hard. ;) I wish I'd put them into all my ornamentals, too. But I've got a boatload of garlic in the kitchen, so putting that to use will be one of my jobs today.