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Straw Bale Gardening: A How-To Guide

1. Start with a bale of Straw.


2. Saturate it with water for about 3 days.

Watering a straw bale

3. Sprinkle the top of the bale with 1/2 cup granular nitrogen fertilizer and continue watering, adding 1/2 cup fertilizer for the next 3 days. Then for the next 3 days only add 1/4 cup fertilizer and water.

4. On day 10, begin digging 3 holes in the the top of the bale, a little larger than the plant pot diameter. Then fill the holes with potting soil or compost, or a combination, and water gently.

A straw bale with holes in it

A straw bale with dirt filled in the holes

Be sure to dig your holes slightly larger than the plant pot diameter

5. When the soil is no longer hot to the touch, plant and water gently. Clean gallon milk jugs with their bottoms removed make a good cloche if the temperature drops suddenly!

A planted straw bale with a watering pale

6. Continue watering gently and occasionally add dilute fertilizer or compost tea about once per week. The continued watering will leach the fertilizer out.

A straw bale with plants in it

Advantages to Straw Bale Gardening

  • Easier (raised) for folks with limited mobility
  • Useful if your garden soil is poor
  • Useful if you have little or no soil in which to garden
  • Virtually no weeding (Don’t use hay bales!)
  • Don’t have to rotate crops, use a fresh bale each year
  • At season’s end, provides great compost for rest of garden

Possible Disadvantages to Straw Bale Gardening

  • May look a little messy as the bale decomposes
  • Bales dry out quickly, so ultimately may use too much water…jury is still out on this one



Filed under: Horticulture

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