Straw Bale Garden Part 1: Preparation

This is another idea I got via the internet.  It’s not my idea.  I wish it was, because it’s brilliant.  Basically, you use straw bales, which decompose over the course of the summer, as raised bed planters.  They get warmer than the soil, which is useful in a cool climate like we have, and are usually free of veggie diseases.  They require more water than plants in the soil, but that’s not a problem here.  I tried it with a variety of veggies last year to test it out.  I learned that tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers love it.  Eggplants probably do as well, but the one eggplant I tried died.  Oops.  My green beans, and broccoli did fine.  The basil was just sad.  The lettuce hated it.  My summer squash plants all died, too.

For the record, I don’t have a black thumb.  Usually my plants do well.  But, last year, thanks to being pregnant, I was struggling with hyperemesis gravidarium (severe morning sickness) and exhaustion during the beginning of the summer (plus taking care of four kids).  At the end of the summer we were out of our house for 5 weeks while some work was being done.  So, my plants were neglected and died, except for the tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers, which produced like crazy.  And the tomatoes got almost no blight.  Amazing.

This year I’m doing just tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers.  I’ll have 10 tomatoes plants in 8 grape/cherry/currant varieties.  I’ll have 12-14 pepper plants in five varieties, some in bales, some in pots on the deck.  And 4 bales worth of cucumber vines in 4 varieties.

The pepper seedling have been growing since February and the tomatoes since March.  They have another month of growing to do before I plant them.

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The bales will sit out in the rain for the next few weeks.  I’ll start watering them daily 7-10 days before planting and will add nitrogen rich fertilizer several times.

The lovely green plants on the other half of the garden are strawberries.  And the fence is for the deer.

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