Straw Bale Garden tutorial

We’ve been practising straw bale gardening method this year and we are fascinated by the results. That’s why we want to share useful info with all of you who want to try this exciting new gardening technique.

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 Preparing the straw bales

When starting with a straw bale garden, you have to set them in place (we used existing wooden construction) and condition/compost them. You’ll need organic fertilizers (look for fertilizers with a balanced nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium ratios) and water (moisture is a key component that fuels microbial activity inside the bale). The process takes about two weeks before you can start planting in the bales. Below is a day to day guide.

Day 1
Use 3 cups of organic fertilizer per bale. Spread evenly throughout the bale and water it inside the bale – you can use a hose end sprayer to spray it deeper into the bale.

Day 2
Water the bales with ‘warm’ water (collected rainwater or water from buckets). Cold water tends to slow the composting process.

Day 3
Use 3 cups of organic fertilizer as on day one and water with ‘warm’ water.

Day 4
Water the bales with ‘warm’ water (collected rainwater or water from buckets).

Day 5
Use 3 cups of organic fertilizer as on day one and water with ‘warm’ water.

Day 6
Water the bales with ‘warm’ water (collected rainwater or water from buckets). You are likely to smell the bales at this point. You can also feel the bales are starting to heat up – the cooking started!

Day 7, 8 and 9
Use 1 1/2 cups of organic fertilizer per each bale and water with ‘warm’ water each day.

Day 10
Apply 3 cups of organic fertilizer per bale and water it down. You might see some mushrooms starting to grow – they are a sign that the bales are composting. Let them be!

Day 11
Let the bales cook and rest!

Day 12 to 18
Your bales are prepared for planting – if you look inside the bales, you will see little black particles which mean that the early stage of soil development is in progress. The bales are still warm which means that the seeds will germinate quickly. (we planted some squash and pumpkin seedlings, nasturtium, beans and hot peppers.

If you want to know more, there are some great web pages, videos and e-books out there about gardening with straw bales. Find info that suits your needs and try the bales out!