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2009 - 1st time bale gardeners - Part 2

Wake Forest, NC

ALL: let's start a new thread since the original thread has gotten very long and takes awhile to download for some.

Loving all the participation from the new folks and veterans alike.

Keep it up.

Alexandria, LA

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.

Dahlonega, GA

Well , I'm not first again . Thats me , a day late and a dollar short .
My bales are still too hot to plant ..105-130 degrees . digger

Canyon Lake, TX(Zone 8b)

A picture of the terminal end of a sponge soaker on my row of straw bales, as requested.

Jerry

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Canyon Lake, TX(Zone 8b)

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 180 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.

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Canyon Lake, TX(Zone 8b)

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.

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Canyon Lake, TX(Zone 8b)

What about the length of soaker that is cut off?

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.

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Canyon Lake, TX(Zone 8b)

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.

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Wake Forest, NC

Jerry: outstanding! Those pics really help out. Thanks, pal.

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

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.

Jeanette

Janice~ Gulf Coast, MS(Zone 9a)

Saving my spot in the new thread. :-)

Canyon Lake, TX(Zone 8b)

Jnette,

The 50' was too long? Yes

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.

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

I guess I might have misunderstood. I had visions of a piece of pvc long enough to go between the ends of the rows connecting the two soakers together, thereby watering 2 rows of seedlings.

Sometimes my mind goes faster than my fingers typing. LOL All the time.

Jeanette

Terrebonne, OR

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?

Wake Forest, NC

green: my bales this year have a lot more wheat sprouts than the previous two. Just one of those years.

A weedeater should do a great job of giving your bales a trim before you transplant.

I'd love to see a pic of you doing this. :-)

Athens, AL(Zone 7a)

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!!!!

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Athens, AL(Zone 7a)

Here is an additional pic of the garden from another angle.....

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Ames, NE(Zone 5b)

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

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Ames, NE(Zone 5b)

Seedlings on top of leaves & straw then covered with straw

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Ames, NE(Zone 5b)

Seedlings on top of dirt Then covered with straw/leaves mulched

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Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

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.

Jeanette

Oriental, NC(Zone 8a)

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?

Thanks,
Helen

Canyon Lake, TX(Zone 8b)

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.

Jerry

Oriental, NC(Zone 8a)

Thanks, Jerry. I tend to under fertilize everything so I think I may be going overboard here in an effort to get some vegies. I'm going hold off a bit and see what happens.

Helen

Bardstown, KY(Zone 6a)

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.

Doug

Oriental, NC(Zone 8a)

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.

Thanks,
Helen

Oriental, NC(Zone 8a)

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.

Thanks for any suggestions.

Helen

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

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.

Jeanette

Wake Forest, NC

Helen: get us a pic of your bales/garden. I've never seen any of my bales "crumble".

The bales will have some shrinkage, but should be sufficient for this year.

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Kent, it sounds to me like she got excessive nitrogen on them and they may have composted real fast. Amazing. I am having trouble getting mine to decompose.

Jeanette

Wake Forest, NC

J,

If she used water-soluble nitrogen, I don't see how any could have survived the watering.

Hang in there. You'll have veggies going, soon.

Oriental, NC(Zone 8a)

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.

Thanks for the hand holding.

Helen

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

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.

Jeanette

Wake Forest, NC

J: went back and re-read. Who knows what I think I read. 10-22 (disregard)

Helen: I had some oat straw bales one year that weren't tightly baled and they collapsed rather quickly.

Any other bales you get won't hurt for some later planting.

Now you've got me yearning for a tomato sandwich! :-)

Won't be too much longer.

Canyon Lake, TX(Zone 8b)

Good morning all.

A Black Krim got me into the one pounder club this morning with this 17 oz'er.

Jerry

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Canyon Lake, TX(Zone 8b)

Oops, sorry. I posted this to the wrong thread. It was grown in a 5 gal grow bag.

Guess what? The maters in straw bales are doing better than the ones in the 5 gal grow bags.

Jerry

Wake Forest, NC

Jerry: I'm still in the 1 ounce club! Very small, green tomatoes! :-)

But, I'm getting there.

Eatonton, GA(Zone 8b)

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!

Dahlonega, GA

All my stuff looks good AND I have one bb size sweet million . Bet I get my bales started a lot sooner next year . digger

Memphis, IN

Hi folks!

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

Thumbnail by Hondo_Lane

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