Guide to Straw Bale Gardening

Gardening in straw bales is an Anglo-Saxon technique that aims to enable anyone to produce plants and vegetables, providing independent support planting soil. A support that is far from inert as it is transformed over time, nutrients available for crops. That’s promising! Taking a closer look …

Culture on bales: the principle

The principle of gardening in straw bales is simple: it is to sow and plant on bales, the decomposition process began (progressive transformation into compost). It provides an adequate environment for the development of vegetables: constant heat (20° C), drained and airy environment, organic matter available.

The decomposition process starts with a supply of water and nitrogen (chicken manure, dried blood, manure tea …). Then watered regularly, straw decomposes slowly under the action of bacteria.

Choose straw

The choice of the straw is important; it is advisable to take one free of all treatments (bio), possibly wheat, which decomposes more slowly than oats or barley. Forget the hay for besides the fact it is thinner, it includes seeds and weeds, which can develop later.

Check the firmness of boots. If it is not tight enough, water and organic fertilizer that you will bring there will only cross the boot and through, and it will deform quickly.

Place the boot in the sun, the vertical strands for a good penetration of the water and of future roots.

Tip: If you have old bales, the decomposition process will be faster to implement.

Activate the fermentation of the straw

First, we must imbue the whole bunch of water. He must do it several times so that the water penetrates everywhere. The operation lasts three days.

Then, to activate the fermentation, two methods are possible:

The first is to continue watering the bale for a week, adding nitrogen fertilizer, fertilizer rates decreasing gradually. The last day, content yourself with a simple watering.
The second involves asking the bale of straw on a plastic sheet, which must be large enough to cover the whole boot. After the first three days of watering, do a good nitrogen fertilizer, cover the straw with a thin layer of compost and lock the boot in the plastic tarp.
After 10 days, the fermentation peak has passed and the temperature of the straw has fallen to about 20° C. The support is ready to receive the seedlings and plantations.
NB: remove the cover if you have one installed under the boot.

Crops on bale of straw

The establishment of crops is rather simple: planting is done on a bed of compost or potting soil. The plants are placed in holes dug in the straw with a trowel, in which you will deposit the soil.

Monitor the temperature

Before any operation, make sure the temperature of the straw is well back down (hand sliped inside should be enough to give you an indication).

By cons, regarding monitoring, you will be rigorous. First, the straw must be always wet. Also, watering will be daily. It is also highly recommended to place irrigation systems “drop by drop” or microporous pipes to simplify the task. The problem is that it is sometimes difficult to grasp the moisture condition of the straw inside the boot and can also rot in a case of excess.

On the other hand, though the straw is transformed gradually in nutrients, they are clearly insufficient to enable the development of plants. Also, a weekly intake of organic fertilizer (culturally appropriate) is necessary.

Life straw bale

The life of a culture seems to be two years. But it also depends on its holding over the supported cultures; the strings tend to relax!

Which plants grow on straw bales?

In theory, there is no limit to the culture of possibilities. Squash, zucchini, tomatoes, melons, cucumbers, peppers, beans, peas, potatoes, strawberries or aromatics seem like it.

Plants that require tutors (like tomatoes) may go even; otherwise, it is advisable to plant tutors outside of the boot.

A recalcitrant: the carrot. She seems unwilling to grow well in this environment.

Advantages and disadvantages

The advantages of this gardening technique are obvious:

  • A possible crop on any ground;
  • No work on the land;
  • Boards and high cultures at hand;
  • Little or no weeds;
  • Warm culture medium that allows hastening chilly cultures …
  • In short, it is very promising.

However, some disadvantages are emphasized and the first is not insignificant:

  • Culture on Straw is a large consumer of water. If you do not have a rainwater recovery system, it is better not to embark on the adventure;
  • It is also necessary to have good resources in organic fertilizers, in order to balance the contributions of the straw decomposition;
  • Furthermore, the correct management of water and fertilizer needs special attention and therefore, your almost daily presence in the garden;
  • Finally, we need to find in sufficient quantity, cultivated bio!
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