STRAWBALE GARDEN

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by philbobaggins, Feb 28, 2008.

  1. philbobaggins

    philbobaggins Junior Member

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    I was hoping someone could refer me to a good resource for developing strawbale gardens. I`d like to grow plants directly on the strawbales using only a minimal amount of compost (tea-cup) per plant, leaving the rest up to the straw and water. I`ve had limited luck finding information...any advise please.
     
  2. derekh

    derekh Junior Member

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  3. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Location:
    inland Otago, NZ
    Climate:
    Inland maritime/hot/dry/frosty
    I'd love to know this too. I saw a brief thing about it in Bill Mollison's TV programme on Pc (not sure which one) where he plants potatoes into straw. Don't know if that would work in my climate though. Maybe we should just experiment.

    Len's system is great, but it's not planting into straw, but rather using bales as borders to make raised beds.
     
  4. barely run

    barely run Junior Member

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    I have done it (with limited sucess) but others were more sucessfull. The trick is you need 1st class lucerne which is scarse and expensive at present. leave it baled and cut into the top middle down about 5inches or so. Fill with best quality potting mix and plant small seedlings into mix. Water can be tricky..getting the right balance. Also some shade during hottest part of day if you're tropical....not a problem for me...I need frost cover.
    Good luck
    Cathy
     
  5. paradisi

    paradisi Junior Member

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    first up you don't need first class anything

    yes spuds can be grown in straw in otago

    and doing it is easy

    get your straw
    either leave the bales whole (a waste in my opinion) or thickly spread the straw as mulch - I use about 60cm thick which stops any weeds from growing from seed in the soil

    open a hole in the straw as big as your fist, put in some compost or even potting mix and plant your seed or seedling.

    the next trick is to get the straw wet, very wet you can even do this before you plant your seedlings.... this gives the seedlings all the moisture they need to establish roots and more importantly stops the straw from blowing away and begins the composting of the straw - - the straw has to compost to provide the nutrients for the new plants.

    you should fertilise when planting - and fairly regularly after that - which speeds up the composting of the straw and helps the plants to grow

    with spuds in otago - follow the directions iin mollisons video or even some of the gardening australia vodcasts on the ABC site and make sure you plant after the last frost and use a variety suitable for southern new zealand
     
  6. barely run

    barely run Junior Member

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    The point of the lucerne is that it doesn't require fertiliser other than some seaweed spray.
    Cathy
     
  7. barely run

    barely run Junior Member

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    Did the potatoe in straw in West NSW Hot dry summer cold winter. It worked well just using straw and small amt compost in old tyres...used about 4 in each stack. As leaves appeared just added another tyre and the straw mix. Very easy to harvest.
    Cathy
     
  8. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    g'day phil,

    you can grow in hay, spoil lucern hay, pasture grass hay or even sugar cane mulch would work the same.

    my project was more involved in using bales as borders, but those borders could have been planted into if i so desired over the months as they settled down my volunteers did just that.

    did an intro' to p/c course once and out project was to build a hay bale garden. all we did was lay the newspaper break up the hay bales and tease out the biscuits just a little and build them to a desirable depth say around 20"s then we had a bale of straw and that was teased out realy well and spread over the hay, then simply pull a home through the straw where you want to plant make a small hole into the hay and put a handfull or 2 of composted material or potting mix into each planting hole then plant the seedlings and keep watered.

    too easy realy.

    check out our instant potato patch garden we will do another this year, can't say i'd ever use tyres in my gardens but that's up to individuals just not necessary mostly.

    len
     
  9. philbobaggins

    philbobaggins Junior Member

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    Wow,
    Just brilliant getting all this advise from all of you with experience!
    You see, I live in Japan where there is a constant supply of straw from the tatami floor mats being thrown out. People tend to replace them when they move into an old house. Each mat has about 25kg of straw.
    This spring I will be experimenting growing directly on the tatami mats (extremely compacted straw) and also making standard strawbales out of deconstructed tatami and growing in them. I want to establish these tatami gardens on concrete, hence I do not have the added security of a soil foundation.
    It was mentioned that I should be fertilizing the bales after planting. I wonder would it be an option to mix dry manure into the straw during the baling process? Is the fertilizer necessary even if the straw is kept in its compacted form? What are the limitation on types of plants one can grow in a strawbale?
    A deadly question- some of the older tatami mats have a dusting of DDT on the underside(in the straw). Any thoughts as to how one would deal with that? Would hot composting lock-up all that poison?
    Thanks so much for your advise so far,
    I appreciate any further thoughts and information.

    Big thanks
     
  10. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    g'day phil,

    yeh with straw alone as it comes under the carbon label that is no nutrients to talk much of.

    that is why the use of a green hay then the straw so there is a balance.

    introduction of the use of daily fresh urine water will go a long way, but yes you will need to add and another likley source would be anything rottable from the kitchen, worm farms could help but unless a worm farm is very large production is a little on the slow side, that is why i do all my vermiculturing in the garden itself. if you rinse dirty dishes and pans in the kitchen prior to washing this is good to add to the garden as is all the dregs from drinks ie.,. soda's, cordial, coffee, tea, alcoholic beverages add all this as well maybe mixed with the wee water?

    if you see anyone trimming/clipping lawn or hedges/shrubs that material would be good to add to the bed as well. make some compost tea to use as foliant or general watering. maybe a local coffee shop will let you take the used beans and dregs?

    len
     
  11. Tas'

    Tas' Junior Member

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    Some people say that growing food plants in old tyres is not a good idea because heavy metals, particularly cadmium, leach out of the tyres and are absorbed by the plants.
     
  12. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    g'day tas,

    there are many chemicals in tyres that they leach as they perish which they do perish. i reckon the worst of them apart from cadmium (which we only need in very trace elements in our body, beyond that it is toxic) the biggy for me is 'lead' and lots of it.

    plus they are listed as a toxic substance with the EPA just try legally disposing of them after you don't want them it's going to cost. that is why when you get new tyres they charge you a disposal fee that the tyre stroe pays to a um!! "tyre recycler/disposer" so if gardeners come along and want tyres "yes of course the tyre store will be tickled" as they get to keep the i think $5 levy on each old tyre that has been paid.

    for me anyone who uses tyres in their landscape won't want me as a prospective buyer of their property later on, and i'm not alone there.

    len
     
  13. ho-hum

    ho-hum New Member

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    Philbo,

    Growing on ex-tatami sounds excellent and a good use of a good resource. I do believe that japanese authorities have tracked the use of DDT and Deildren as an ''inoculant'' and it was stopped in about 1970.

    The act of inoculating tatami mats may not have been stopped. This is pure speculation by me but the straw used in tatami is so inert that it may not be able to take up much of the insecticides used.

    If you can soak them for a couple of weeks and, heaven help, remove most of the residues, I believe you are onto a great source of inert materials.

    Treat the tamami mats then like an inert, free draining, near hydroponic growing medium. I believe if you do this you will be on the right track.

    Given your circumstance I would chuck the tatami on the roof for winter and drag them down for spring and go for it.

    Straw is sooooooo inert it may not uptake many of these chemicals and a good wash/frost/snow may make the residues negligible.

    Lastly, do tatami mats last for 30 years??

    cheers
     
  14. SueinWA

    SueinWA Junior Member

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    > A deadly question- some of the older tatami mats have a dusting of DDT on the underside(in the straw). Any thoughts as to how one would deal with that? Would hot composting lock-up all that poison?

    Apparently, a good microbial population in a compost pile will break down DDT. But you would have to compost the mats to do it. Just stacking them and waiting for breakdown probably wouldn't do it.

    From an article at https://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/449326.stm

    "Clever Compost Clears Pollution": "A large-scale trial in Tampa, Florida, has already been successfully cleaned up , with 90% of the DDT being broken down to water, carbon dioxide and salts."

    I am assuming that you would want to compost with care, and include some natural soil, maybe some active compost from a good pile (microbes), etc.

    I would read up on how to make good compost, and follow the directions fairly carefully. I know some people will tell you just to toss a bunch of compost ingredients together, but considering what you're trying to do, I would take special care to get the compost hot, and turn it several times. If it isn't moist enough, the microbes won't be happy, if it isn't hot enough, if enough air isn't incorporated into it, the breakdown of the DDT may not occur as completely as you need.

    Once you get a good pile going, and it finally breaks down to a suitable condition, I would use some of the finished compost as 'seed material' for the next pile, so the microbes don't have to start from scratch.

    Lucerne/alfalfa is a great activator for compost and a good source of nitrogen. One thing you might try is finding some alfalfa seed, and try planting it in some of the mats. If you can get it to grow (it's a perennial), you could use it for adding to your composting program for the DDT.

    Just some ideas. Using those tatami mats sounds like a wonderful recycling program.

    Sue
     
  15. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Location:
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    What can you plant in the strawbales? Are perennials ok like herbs? Or is it more for annuals?
     

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