So without writing a novel, lets focus on two things we love to grow in straw and some must dos.
When it comes to straw you want organic if possible. You'll wany to purchase a rectangular straw bale(s) approximately 3′ x 2′ x 1.5’ in size. Cost per bale is typically $5-$7. Make sure to check bales for ants (yes it can be a real issue). Ideally, the straw bale should be composed of wheat. It is better to use straw, but not hay. Alfalfa, oats, rye, or other cereals can be considered, if there is an absence of weed seed in the bales.
We get our bales just before the last frost, but sometimes still get snow and cold weather. We water the bales twice a day to make sure the straw soaks up a lot of water. Tips-Place the bale(s) in a sunny location receiving at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. You want the cut end of the bale facing up.
- For the first six days, water the bales thoroughly.
- Every other day spread 3 cups of organic fertilizer on the top, such as All Purpose Mix from Down to Earth, and water it in.
- On days 7, 8 and 9, spread only 1.5 cups of the fertilizer on top, and water it in.
- Finally, on day 10, spread the top with 3 cups of a high-phosphorus fertilizer such as fish bone meal.
Planting in Your Bales
- To plant in your bales, remove straw to form a hole as deep as the roots of your plant will grow.
- Fill the hole with potting soil, and plant the seed or transplant. Water well.
- You can plant almost any annual flowers, herbs, fruits and veggies in a bale that you’d normally grow in your garden. Some say no to tomatoes, but we had success with them. Just remember they like calcium-eggshells are your friend. Grind them up and add to bales. As for corn, we did not have success with this. They are too heavy and tall.
- You can also build a trellis from one bale to another!
- Add rich material to your bales weekly depending on what you have planted. We loved adding our homemade compost tea.
- Make sure to keep your bales well watered. We used a drip system with a timer.
Let's talk potatoes! After years of digging them up, hoping not to cut into too many, and cleaning dirty potatoes, I made the switch to strawbales. I'll never go back and even though we are currently living the RV life, we will have a garden this summer and strawbales will be part of it.
As for carrots-Starting three to four days before you plan to sow them, soak carrot seeds in water for an hour, and then transfer them to a damp paper towel. Fold to enclose the seeds, then put inside an airtight container. Keep at room temperature. Plant the soaked seeds within five days. To plant on the bales I add potassium rich compost along with light soil (light soil is usually 35 percent sand). I work this into the bale and the add another layer on top of the bale. Plant your soaked seeds and this by cutting the first leaves. To harvest you just shake the bale and pick up the carrots.
I hope this helps!
If you try this, make sure to tag me @Destinationmommy and I'll share your gardening adventures. Remember you can always start small with one bale and then go from there.