Made a Mistake??

No Central, AZ(Zone 7b)

I got the bright idea to stand my bales on their sides to make them stand taller and easier yet to reach, the give tomatoes even more depth, and to bury potato starts further down. 6 of my 10 bales are on the side. My bales have been out and being watered in for most of 2 weeks now and while there is apparently wheat growing in them, I have not felt anything near heat coming from them. The ones laying flat feel like I may be able to put something in them soon. The others are still pretty tight. Will they even get loose in that position or should I turn them down and start watering the newly exposed side?

I have tried a big nursery, WM and local hardware store looking for ammonium nitrate and they do not have it. Anything else I can use? I feel I need TO GET GOING HERE with plants going in. In SoCal we had such a longer season. Last time when I had the bales there I was still harvesting tomatoes mid Nov. Here in No AZ we had the first snow and 14 degrees on Nov. 14. BTW, that week I had been visiting in CA and it was 96 when I left there on Tues and had that snow by end of week here!

This message was edited May 4, 2013 6:14 PM

Wake Forest, NC

For the 1st two years I put my bales up on the sides like you have, but then started doing them with the strings ON the ground because water would not run through the bales as fast.

If you can tip the bales over and re-position them, then I'd do it. But the bales will be heavy and you don't want to pull the strings off. Two people would probably work best in re-positioning them.

Some bales just don't heat up as much as others. Cold, outside temps will hamper the traditional heating stage if you try to do it too soon.

Ammonium Sulphate is a good substitute. Ammonium Nitrate is hard to find now since it came under regulation. BLOOD MEAL is a good substitute, but any HIGH NITROGEN, water-soluble product will work. Just don't get the SLOW RELEASE kind.

However, for the last 2 years I used straw, I didn't use ANY high-nitrogen product to prepare the bales. You really don't need to if you get the bales out early enough, soak them down good for the first couple of days and then just keep them moist from then on. I call this the "crock-pot" method of preparing the bales..... slow and easy! Nature will take care of the preparation and the bales will be much more manageable to deal with when it comes time to transplant into them.


Mesa, AZ(Zone 9b)

I put my bales on the side because that's the way I was told to. If the strings are on the ground they are going to rot out and then nothing will hold it together. I've put miligronite on mine and been watering them well. Just start planting my seedlings in. I didn't have any problems digging into them with a bulb planter. The inside looks like its mixed with damp straw and soil. So far so good, if I can keep the birds away from it. the only way I see laying them flat would help is to give you more planting space but then would only be good for one season. Keep us posted on how your's do.


No Central, AZ(Zone 7b)

gemfire, up north here, our growing season is pretty much toast and the strawbales were not near as successful as the ones I had in CA, no matter which way the bales were situated.

I guess the good news is that I may actually be able to use some of them next spring! Yes, strings on the ground made my previous bales decompose faster, but that is what the plants liked, apparently. When I started I assumed one season. I am adding one bale , so far, to newly established compost pile.

A few around here thought I was nuts using bales. I showed handyman photos of previous, successful, bales and harvest and that made him quiet, lol.

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

I have not bale hardened in a few years but I always put mine on their sides. I also opted for hay over straw. It worked much better for me.

Post a Reply to this Thread

Please or sign up to post.