Friday, May 15, 2009

Straw Bale Garden Update

Planting day fell on Mother's Day this year (something I will avoid next year and subsequent years until the kids are a little older). I have also learned where to purchase my supplies so hopefully next year I won't have to make eight trips to the 4 garden centers who have what I want.

Here's a list of the supplies I gathered over the last month:

11 straw bales

4 metal fence posts

1 roll of garden twine

3 bags of manure (only used 1)

4 bags of fertilizers

1 watering wand

1 large bag of organic garden soil

1 panel of concrete reinforcement wire*


4 tomato

4 cherry tomato

4 green pepper

4 habenero pepper

1 rosemary

1 sweet basil

1 basil

1 cilantro

1 broccoli

1 onion set

1 arugula


1/2 bale sweet bell peppers (shared with 1 tomato and 1 green pepper plant)

1 bale green beans

1 bale of carrots (3 cherry tomato plants over the seeds)

oregano (shares a bale with other herbs)

radish and zucchini share a bale

1 bale for 1 pumpkin

1 bale for 1 watermelon

lettuce (shares a bale with watermelon

After two weeks of conditioning the bales the kids helped me put 1-2 inches of garden soil on top of the bales designated for seeds.

Next year I will string twine on both sides to create a trellis. My plants are not organized as well as they should be because it got complicated when some needed dirt, some needed the trellis, etc.. Good thing I made myself a map so I know where everything is!

It was surprisingly easy to make room for the plants. (They don't need any top soil. What you're seeing on top of the bale is manure.) Wedging a small trowel back and forth a couple of times and just like that there was room for the plants.

Here's what the garden looks like after the May 10th planting.

After my 8th stop at a garden center....on May 12th the rest of the plants are in the bales.

I promised our landlord that I'd make sure the bales didn't look dingy when campers came into the park so I stuck some leftover annuals in the side of the bale. You can plant herbs in the sides too but I didn't want to risk them not growing well so I gave them their own bale. I've seen wave pentunia's on the side of bales which I didn't want to spend the money on this year.

It's been five days and so far things are still looking good. I give the few straw pieces of wheat that grow on each bale a "hair cut" every day when I water. I was told that after a few hair cuts they give up and die, but it's really not that big of deal to pull them - especially when the bales are wet. They come out root and all.

More updates to come as things progress....

* Concrete reinforcement wire is a great alternative to flimsy tomato cages. I will make one more trip to HomeDepot for a big sheet of it (couldn't fit it in the Honda last week)

I'll zip tie the wire to across the end where my tomotoes are planted in my 11th bale and for $7 I will have a tomato cage

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  1. It is so much fun watching your progress! Thanks for the update!

  2. I came across your blog and I absolutely love it!!!

    Tiffany Pifer

  3. I've never seen a garden like that. Cool!

  4. Wow, the garden is looking great! I'm so envious--in a good way, of course. I'm also very excited for you to be able to grow your own food. Knowing where it came from and how it was grown helps enjoy it even more!


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