Learn how to start straw bale gardening with Blain’s Farm & Fleet.
You go to start your own vegetable garden, and you’re met with a gardener’s worst nightmare: poor soil. Instead of putting in the effort of creating raised garden beds, there’s an easier (and cheaper) solution: straw bale gardening. Straw bales are actually perfect for growing plants and vegetables. Blain’s Farm & Fleet is here to help you get started with your own straw bale garden.
Why start straw bale gardening?
Poor soil condition – If you’re stuck with rocky or poor soil, straw bale gardening is a perfect solution. Plants take root in the straw bale. The plants then get their nutrients from the decomposing straw. As long as the straw stays wet, your plants will be in business.
Location versatility – Straw bale gardening doesn’t only work on grass, but on asphalt and concrete, too. It’s perfect for limited spaces, like rooftops or small concrete patios.
Less labor intensive – Gone are the days of turning soil, weeding and bending over to dig up plants and vegetables. With straw bale gardening, your garden is more accessible and easier to maintain. Once you’ve conditioned your straw bales, gardening is easy.
How to get started
1. First, you’ll need to pick a spot for the straw bales. You can create a straw bale garden on any surface, as long as it will get six to eight hours of sunlight per day. Put down landscaping fabric to keep weeds from growing up into the straw bales. Also keep the bale strings running along the sides of the straw and not across the top of the bale, which is the growing surface. We recommend sourcing your straw from local farmers, as they can tell you how the straw was grown.
2. You’ll need to condition the bales about two weeks before you start planting. Conditioning includes fertilizing and wetting the bales. This helps the inner straw start composting, which in turn creates the perfect environment for your plants to take root.
3. On the first day, sprinkle each bale with 3 cups of high nitrogen fertilizer and water each bale. On the second day, simply water the bales. Repeat this every other day process for the first six days, making sure the fertilizer soaks down into the bale.
4. On days 7 – 9, use 1.5 cups of fertilizer and water down the bales on each day. On day 10, use 3 cups of phosphorus and potassium and water down the bales. Leave the bales alone the following day, and on day 12, you’ll be ready to plant.
5. For seedlings, use a garden trowel to separate the straw to create a hole. Add planting mix to cover up the seedling’s exposed roots. For seeds, cover the bales with a 1-2″ layer of planting mix and use it as a seedbed for the seeds. The seeds will take root in the inner part of the straw bale. You may also want to add a soaker hose over the top of the bales–this eliminates the need to physically water your garden. That’s it!
Straw bale gardening is an easy and affordable way to grow your own vegetables. Plus, you can create your garden on a variety of surfaces and small spaces, so it’s perfect for city dwellers with a green thumb. For more tips on starting your own vegetable garden, visit our Gardening blog. Don’t forget to visit your local Blain’s Farm & Fleet for all your lawn and garden supplies, too!