If you’ve been reading my posts lately you know I’m crazy about my garden. I love being able to eat fresh vegetables I’ve grown myself. I also can, dehydrate, and freeze a lot of the produce. But gardening is hard work and, with my disabilities, it’s painful. So I’m considering doing straw bale gardening instead of my traditional garden.
Traditional gardens require tilling, and weeding. These can be very difficult, if not impossible if you can’t tolerate that sort of work. I usually do my gardening sitting on the ground and kind of scooting from bed to bed. I come in exhausted and filthy from dragging my fanny along the ground. It also puts me right down in the dirt with the various creepy-crawlies.
Because of my disabilities bending is extremely difficult and sometimes impossible. If I do try to bend, I often fall which can be disastrous for me. If you have trouble bending you know what I mean. Balance is also an issue. I lose my balance without warning. Trying to get up and down in my garden has caused more than a few falls over the years.
In addition to the physical difficulties of gardening I have battled blight which all but ruined my tomato crop last year and prevented me from putting potatoes in the garden this year. I’m also always in a war with the various produce devouring insects that attack my precious vegetables.
For these reasons I am thinking of doing nothing but straw bale gardening next year. My dear friend, Tina, did a straw bale garden this year and it’s amazing!
Tina put bales on both sides of a section of her chain link fence.
Her zucchini is doing really well!
Tina even has a tomatoes growing in her straw bale garden!
Tina’s garden has tomatoes, beans, zucchini, peppers, and peas.
To ensure my own success I’ve started researching the best ways to create and maintain this type of garden. The first thing I’ve learned is that you must condition the bales. I had thought I just needed to add some potting soil to the bales. I could do it that way but my yields wouldn’t be as high.
Preparing the bales will take a couple of weeks. To get my bales ready I’m going to add a bag of blood meal to each bale. This has 12 – 15% nitrogen which is crucial for growth. This will allow the bacteria that are already in the bales to feed. I’ll then water it in until the bale is saturated.
On the second day I’ll be sure to water the bales until they’re saturated. On the third day I’m going to fertilize using a good organic fertilizer with plenty of nitrogen and wash it deep into the bales using tepid water. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll slowly reduce the amount of fertilizer I use and continue watering the bales.
Since my garden is on the south side of my house I can line my bales up in the existing space. I’ll use two 7 foot steel fence posts on each end of a row of bales. I’ll use some chicken wire or electric fence wire between the posts. This will help keep my bales together.
When I’m ready to plant I’ll gently pat a couple of inches of good potting soil in to the bales. I can then add my seeds or transplants to the bales. I’ll just make a hole in the straw for transplants and move the plants in. Seeds will be planted to the required depth and covered.
I’ll feed my straw bale plants every week or two and keep the bales watered. I’m going to plant some tomatoes and peppers in my garden as I’ve always done but I do want to try doing a few in the straw bales.