Straw Bale Garden

Vegetables By the Bale

    Example April 3,H 61,L55, p41. =
    Key:date:April 3,Te
    mperature High 61,Temperature Low 55, precipitation .41″

Rose Marie’s blog is The Gardener’s Pantry.
Patsy Bell’s blog is Oh Grow Up!

I decided to try straw bale gardening after reading about it by Rose Marie Nichols, of the family operated Nichols Garden Nursery and member of Garden Writers Association.

We’ve agreed to keep each other up to date on our gardens this year. Nichols Garden Nursery is in Albany, Oregon in the Willamette Valley and my garden is in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, in southeast Missouri hugging the Mississippi River (37°18 33″N 89°32 47″W elevation: 410 ft.)

For The Oregonian, Anne Jaeger and Rose Marie have a quickie video demo of how to do plant a straw bale. A more detailed guide is on the Nichols web page, Nichols Garden Nursery.

No point reinventing the wheel so, I won’t repeat every thing Rose Marie wrote about straw bale culture. I’m going to keep a journal on the blog and include photos.

I finally started my Garden Bales. There is not much to see. In front of the five bales on the south are alpine strawberries (right as you face the bales looking east).
In front of the bales on the north or left side are marigolds. I poked a few nasturtium seed in the corners of the bales. We will see how that grows. Nasturtiums have not been a good choice in the past. I attribute their failure to my neglect.

  • March 2009. Straw bales delivered. We are still getting freezing weather in MO. I’ve arranged the bales and watered them. The frequent freezes and cold rains are dashing hopes of an early start in the garden this year.
  • April 3, Hi 61, Lo55,precip 4. My bales are not baled with synthetic twine, as Rose Marie suggested. I was happy to get 10 bales of good straw delivered. I soaked the straw with water. For the next couple of weeks the starlings feasted on the straw seeds, some birds carried off straw for their nests. Still, there was plenty seed left to sprout into a green carpet atop the bales.
on the right, Baby Pak Choi seedlings. On the left leek seedlings.
  • May 8. I started 5 of the straw bales garden project by spreading the bales with bags of potting soil and compost to equal 2 or 3 inches of soil. The first thing I planted was some baby pak choi plants that I thinned from the raised bed garden, a few onions, leeks and scallions that I also planted in the raised beds. I also planted some pepper plant seedlings that are just an inch or two tall, and a few zucchini seed. Then I sprinkled in some mesclun (mixed lettuces) seed across the top of the rest of the bale. The leeks and onions are not a good idea, but I had extra seedling and no place to put them. So, that’s just an experiment. Perhaps I will transplant them again into the raised beds when I have a little more room, after I pick the peas.

The lettuces will be thinned and harvested to make room for the peppers and squash as they grow. The zucchini, by the way, is a Nichols variety called Aristocrat Zucchini , a hybrid, a dark green upright bush type.

  • May 9. We pounded in eight foot long 1 x 2 stakes to support tomato plants. It was threatening to storm and this is just before the big wind and rain storm that left many folks without electricity for four days.

“Why are you pounding in those stakes?” asked the teen next door. “To keep the bales from blowing away?”

Insects found the pak choi on the bales right away. Insects are not bothering the pak choi that was planted from seed in the raised bed beside the garden peas and chives.

  • May 10, hi 71, lo53, precip .25. Sprayed some insecticidal soap on the pak choi. The pak choi is a cool season crop and often bolts in a sudden hot spell. So, this is truly an experiment. If it stays cool, we may have some great stir fries this spring. I’ll share a recipe and show you how I cook them, if the baby pak choi do mature.
  • May 12, hi74, lo49, precip 0. One of my biggest challenges is to remind myself that not everybody knows or cares about gardening. With record garden seed sales, and even Michelle Obama planting a garden on the White House Lawn, I just thought everybody must be into gardening. So when a neighbor walked by the garden and asked what those purple flowers are in the raised bed, I thought she was kidding. (They are chives, by the way.) And then, the next day, another neighbor came by and asked,

“Whats with all those hay bales in your yard?,” so I explained all about straw bale gardening. The neighbors have taken notice that something different is going on.

Just a couple of doors down, a teacher with the cutest three year old son came by. The little boy mostly says,

“WHATS THAT?” He does not like many vegetables. He was a little curious about the garden, but his mom doesn’t care for a lot of vegetables either, so I should not be surprised he doesn’t know a pea plant from a potato. I think it’s important that kids know where their food comes from, so I’m not giving up. Perhaps when those sugar snap peas or sweet cherry tomatoes are rich and ripe, I may be able to tempt him in to tasting one.

  • Albany, Oregon: elevation:200 ft (for you gps fans, coordinates are 44°37 49″N 123°5 46″W)
  • Cape Girardeau, Missouri: elevation: 410 ft (37°18 33″N 89°32 47″W)

  • According to Yahoo maps,
    we live a driving distance of 2,094.61 miles apart or, a driving time of 31 hrs 8 minutes.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.