Straw Bale Gardens

straw bale garden photoA friend of mine brought the concept of straw bale gardening to my attention the other day. (Thanks, Sharon!) Very interesting. I did a bit of research and noticed that it is more common than I had imagined. I believe I will give this a try in the fall. I have a feeling that lettuce would thrive in straw bales.

Here’s how straw bale gardening works:

Buy a few bales of wheat straw (hay also works but contains more seeds) and set them in a sunny spot. Stack them one or two high. If you have mobility problems or if you just don’t like bending down to garden, two high would be ideal.

Ten days before you plant your garden, thoroughly soak the bales with water. If the weather is warm, you will have to do this more than once. The water will cause the bales to heat up considerably, which is harmful, even deadly, to plants and seeds. No fear! After 5-7 days, the bales will cool down and will be ready for planting a few days later.

Now for the fun part – planting your seeds or transplants. Sow the seeds directly in the straw. For transplants, dig a hole and set the plant in it. Add potting soil around the roots.

Fertilize the plants, water on a regular basis and watch your garden grow!

If you want to purdy up your straw bale garden, plant annual flowers or herbs with your veggies. I recommend nasturtiums (the flowers are edible and look pretty in a salad) and marigolds (to deter pests).

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11 thoughts on “Straw Bale Gardens

      • My experience has been that I can reuse a few bales for a second growing season but for the most part I start fresh each year. The two bales I carry over from the previous year I plant carrots and sweet potatoes in so they have less resistance. If you want to reuse even more of the bales before composting I had good success with breaking them up and growing potatoes under them. (No digging in the dirt for spuds that way – just put the slips on the bare ground and cover with loose straw)

        Good luck with your garden!

  1. Are you going to give this a try, Julie? It’s a neat idea—no bending! In addition to being functional, they are natural accents for fall and a good solid base for Mr. Scarecrow.

    • I’d like to give it a try this fall. I bet lettuce would do well in the bales. We’ll see! Maybe I’ll even create a funky scarecrow to guard the greens 🙂 Good idea!

  2. According to everything I’ve read (since I haven’t tried straw bale gardening yet), adding compost or soil isn’t necessary, though it can be done. I think I will try it both ways when I plant my lettuce… sow seeds directly in the soil in one row and make a soil filled trench for the other row.

  3. Pingback: Building Raised Bed Gardens | Understanding Realities

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