Anyone with experience in Straw Bale gardening?

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by Pakanohida, Mar 28, 2012.

  1. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2011
    Messages:
    2,984
    Likes Received:
    20
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Since I lost my 2nd chook tractor, and our ground is so incredibly compacted I opted for trying Straw Bale gardening method.

    For reference, this is what I am referring to:
    https://youtu.be/UXcA99xGHwQ

    I am curious if anyone has any tips or pointers?
     
  2. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

    Joined:
    May 14, 2004
    Messages:
    3,464
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
  3. wmthake

    wmthake Junior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2011
    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    The discussion of the one I built is here.
    https://www2.permies.com.evohst.org/t/9373/permaculture/Raised-Bed-Hugelkultur-vs-Natural

    That is a staw-bale + hugelculture (sticks/branches on bottom). Scroll half-way down, then to the bottom to see a before/after shot.

    So far, my mind isn't made up. I think that digging the bales into the ground does a lot for keeping moisture in the area, but the sticks and branches on the bottom do too. I don't know what I'll do with the project when the bales eventually break down.

    I load up compost on the top. and then cover with straw. Planning to plant this one this week or next.

    If you have hard soil, go aboveground. I did 9 of these things and it was a lot of work. Budget about 4 hours of intensive labor for each one.

    One problem in general is the amazing power of sinking soil. I made sure mine were mounded up really high so in a few weeks they come out even.

    The other thing is that straw bales seem to take a while to break down if they are dry, you might be signing up for a lot of watering.

    You might also think about finding a way to mix hay bales and straw bales. The hay bales would provide a huge amount of "break-down-y-ness" while the straw bales would provide that stability you're looking for.

    hope that helps somewhat.
    William
     
  4. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2011
    Messages:
    2,984
    Likes Received:
    20
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Len, with respect, I do not believe they are the same thing, you added soil, I won't be except on top.

    Wmt,

    With respect, Hugulkulture does not work properly here in the Pacific Northwest since the soil is heavy clay, I posted about this on Permies once and got moderated, heavily.

    However, as you also promoted somewhat, deadwood swales with this STRAW, not hay bales on top might be an excellent to encourage the deadwood swales.

    Hay bales have too much grass seed and defeat the purpose here.
     
  5. wmthake

    wmthake Junior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2011
    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Before:
    View attachment 1383
    After:
    View attachment 1382

    Here's something you might be interested in. On top of concrete. In serious shade.

    I actually got 3 or 4 peas out of it. I grew climbing beans just for their ornamental value and to get some green in a decidedly non-green place.

    I use this area as an organic material production center. Everything goes in and then comes out digested and ready for my crops. Eventually even the straw bales will make their way onto the mix. I grow beans right in the middle with all the compost once it's died down a bit.

    Growing on top in the first year, mmm, hey were too dry and there wasn't enough sun there. In better sun, with more water, it probably could be done. There's a much higher fungal content right now.

    I think in the second year they remain wet enough, given the fungal stuff happening. But maybe not if they are alone with no wet stuff nearby.

    Oh, about hugelculture on heavy clay...mmm...I have heavy clay and right now I can sink my whole hand inside. If I go out to my field, I might get up to the first knuckle if I hit a wet spot. That could be due to the deadwood, it could be due to the straw bale border, it could be due to my adding compost earlier this spring, or the fact that I grew and left roots. Whatever the case, the heavy clay is not a problem if you attack it from different angles, at least that's what I think so far. My main problem is sun in this location, not the soil. The soil is just getting awesomer and awesomer and awesomer.

    -wm
     

    Attached Files:

  6. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

    Joined:
    May 14, 2004
    Messages:
    3,464
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    i did what!! added soils you say? beg your pardon look at presentation carefully please, we never bring in soil. we sue hugelcuktu as well (now that i have heard the term), and putting any pruning's or other sort material at the bottom of the bed will work anywhere over time it mus surely? look at the natural forests if stuff didn't rot the floor of the forest would be littered high with the material.

    but gardening is you do what works for you, best not to criticise others ideas that you asked for.

    we never buy soil in so where did you get that idea please?

    with our new beds as they will be higher and we have lots of our own top soil from building site to dispose of yes we will this time use soil but not in you context, the rest of the material will be as it always has been.

    read carefully

    len
     
  7. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2011
    Messages:
    2,984
    Likes Received:
    20
    Trophy Points:
    38
    WOW! LEN RELAX!

    k, soil was a bad choice of words but to quote you exactly from your site
    Right here you went well beyond the scope of the discussion as outlined in the 1st post especially when it came directly to this quote from myself.

     
  8. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2011
    Messages:
    2,984
    Likes Received:
    20
    Trophy Points:
    38
    That top picture with the dark looking soil like matter is exactly what I am writing about for clarity sake again.


    Good to know that the soil keeps getting better! :)
     
  9. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2011
    Messages:
    2,984
    Likes Received:
    20
    Trophy Points:
    38
  10. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

    Joined:
    May 14, 2004
    Messages:
    3,464
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    still don't get what you are on about, first i do not watch youtube stuff show me hard text please, no i did not go beyond any scope the topic "anyone experienced in straw bale gardening", our presentation fits because it clearly shows what we do, we never bring in soil.

    if you have a specific question why not ask it?

    and i am relaxed what about you? we supplied how we do it not to be criticised but for people to look at and if they find nothing there then ok.

    len
     
  11. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2009
    Messages:
    5,925
    Likes Received:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Len I've had a look at the You tube video and the approach they are using is quite different to what you and I called straw bale gardening and I think this is why there's some stray emotion flying around.

    The video shows straw bales themselves being topped with topsoil and compost and then left sitting through winter to decompose to make a soil mix to plant into.

    The technique that you and I know - of making the sides of the bed out of bales and filling the middle with compostable ingredients and planting into it - is different to the video.
     
  12. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

    Joined:
    May 14, 2004
    Messages:
    3,464
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    g'day eco'

    that more closely resembles sheet mulching, we did that at the 2 day inro' to perma' tafe course, we laid out some lucerne hay material used a planting medium then planted some parsley and mulched it with straw, now the raised gardens we do are just another adaptation of sheep mulching lasagne gardening(with edges or no edges) whatever tag someone needs to put on it, when it all breaks down it all looks the same its original appearance is no longer there.

    so that now means i am in the same ball park and no criticism was required and i am kool ok, others may have to develop broader thinking??

    that bale garden i did i planted into the bales as well

    len

    len
     
  13. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2011
    Messages:
    2,984
    Likes Received:
    20
    Trophy Points:
    38
    No, actually it does not.

    I take a bale of straw & not hay, place it down. Rub some soil, compost, something onto it, Let ferment 10 days, keeping it moist at all times & then plant. The Straw not hay bale is the growing medium itself now. This is not the same thing, not in the same ballpark either.

    You are using bales to make a raise bed, and hold the contents of the lasagna / sheet mulching in, the method I inquired about does not.

    I even refer to someone elses pictures (Wmthake's top picture in post #5) since you don't want to view Youtube to show it isn't the same! :(
     
  14. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2006
    Messages:
    3,046
    Likes Received:
    199
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    E Washington, USA
    Climate:
    Semi-Arid Shrub Steppe (BsK)
    As an aside, I too am basically unable to view youtube videos ... lack of any reasonable bandwidth makes downloading even a short video something that I start when I go to bed and hope that it actually loaded overnight. Living way out in the sticks has some compromises. ; )
     
  15. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

    Joined:
    May 14, 2004
    Messages:
    3,464
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    yep another variant of sheet mulching(looked at the video) we planted into our bales as well but it all breaks down to the point where plants are still growing and the bales are no more,

    there is nothing new just variants in gardening processes

    if the method suits you use it would have application where full sized beds might not fit.

    it is no-dig raised bed gardening using available resources.

    len
     
  16. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2011
    Messages:
    2,984
    Likes Received:
    20
    Trophy Points:
    38
    I understand where you are coming from, I really do I was in the same boat till we got a satellite deal from the "man."

    However, I do NOT understand how one can glibly call this sheet mulching & it comes across as intentionally insulting. There is no multiple layers like in sheet mulching / lasgna gardening. It is a bale of straw, inoculated, and then planted. No layers of compost, no layers of mulch, no layers of anything at all.

    Perhaps I should of posted a diagram or something to explain better, however this is now post 16 and all it has been about is literally arguments over what it is when instead of inciting a problem, it could of been avoided by not making conjectures & glib remarks.

    On this end, this is a highly frustrating thread with utterly no help what so ever.
     
  17. Spidermonkey

    Spidermonkey Junior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2011
    Messages:
    121
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    18
    When it comes to gardening I still have my L plates. I am currently building a garden to grow fruit and veg and although I have a compost heap I am having trouble keeping the heat going. So far I have some no dig grow beds where I have planted peas, beans, corn and cucumber. To build the garden I had to remove some trees and bricks as half of the area is concrete in front of a garage and the other half where I my garden is was mostly bricked over with a few overgrown trees down one side. When the bricks and soil were removed the top soil was very poor heavy clay. The grow beds were layers of cardboard under which I sprinkled blood and bone mix and sawdust/manure from my chooks and covered this with cane mulch. I bought a bag of potting mix to plant the seeds in and when I plant them in the ground I add a scoop of the potting mix to give the plants a good start and despite the poor soil I have had good results so far. My point is with my limited experience I felt this was the best way to get the garden off to a good start. I have let the grass grow in other areas and will dig this in to provide the soil with organic matter as I bring more of the garden into production. Over time I hope that the quality of the soil will improve naturally. This weekend I start my PDC course and I hope to have a lot of new ideas and strategies I can employ when I come back. :)
     
  18. Spidermonkey

    Spidermonkey Junior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2011
    Messages:
    121
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    18
    I did see an article on "Gardening Australia" about the effective use of bales in the garden. Here is the article: https://www.abc.net.au/gardening/stories/s2545796.htm
    It seems to be a good way to go. I live in a subtropical area and it can rain constantly and then it won't rain for weeks. Straw bale gardening may be a good way to improve drainage in the wet periods while maintaining enough moisture through the dry periods. I think I will trial a straw bale and a cane mulch raised bed when I get back from my PDC. It will be interesting to put the same matter into a variety of raised bale beds and see how the soil differs (if at all) over time.
     
  19. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

    Joined:
    May 14, 2004
    Messages:
    3,464
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    it all turns into the same stuff spidermonkey,

    how you feed it along the way helps pretty much for us anything from the kitchen that rots including shopping dockets and used tissue all goes under the mulch to rot down, pretty much everything us smart gardeners do we adapt from anoterh process, sheet mulching lasgane beds are no different, you need only cut those bales up and break the biscuits apart and use a medium and it is all the same all breaks down to fertile humusy stuff over time, here in the sub-tropics about a year. we just made sure we lay the bales with the bale twine knots facing out to make fore easier removal later, matter not if one wishes to lay a good layer of lucerne hey then some planting medium then mulch with straw, we promote using what is at hand and available in however it might fit in you area.

    using same technique which is what it is about you can build raised areas to plant fruit trees for better drainage and ease of care, in that scenario that hugelkultur method comes into play at pruning you prune and drop and cover with mulch, hay or straw whatever it matters not.

    we think our presentation covers nearly all of it, the ability to use bales to plant in and at the same time create a raised bed that is just a move on from sheet mulching incorporating hugelkultur ideas along the way, the best of all worlds.

    len
     
  20. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,721
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    inland Otago, NZ
    Climate:
    Inland maritime/hot/dry/frosty
    (I also can't see the youtubes right now).

    Pak, I'm interested in the innoculating idea. Where did that come from? You are in a cool, wet climate right?

    The other person's pictures are great. Always use the bales with the straw ends pointing up? Why straw and not hay?

    Bill Mollison plants some potatoes in straw bales in one of his old TV programmes. I think he used that to grow potatoes and create garden as it all broke down.
     

Share This Page

-->