June 2, 2015

Straw Bale Garden for the Win


This is my second year using straw bales for gardening. I've expanded with more bales, plus I'm growing food in dirt beds around the property. The dirt beds received a lot of amendment to make them viable, but I'd say my bales are still the most robust.

Behind the house, there's a small 50 sq ft raised bed. In past years, everything failed. It's packed clay with zero nutrients. So I worked hard to amend the soil to accommodate more root veggies and grow something successfully. This bed houses radishes, beets, carrots, radicchio, mesclun greens, romaine heads, and peas.


The greens are growing strong. I can barely keep up eating enough, so soon they'll be shared with family and friends. The onion tops look healthy (though I doubt I'll see full bulbs at harvest time), and carrots, with some thinning, look healthy. The photo above is early in the season.

The beets grew for two weeks and then disappeared. The radishes looked like they were thriving but in the end, I had two tiny radishes and a bunch of greens. Even with extensive thinning, they just couldn't work with our soil. Root veggies in dirt - not going to happen in my garden.

The bales host several varieties of heirloom, hybrid, and grafted tomatoes, all looking strong and flowering. My peppers are taking some time to grow, but I remember that happening last year. I suspect I'll be flush with jalepenos and sweet bells by August. Unsurprisingly, my cucumbers and zucchini are rocking. This year as bush plants, they're hopefully not going to take over the entire garden.

We have herbs in containers and bales, three containers of potatoes that love all the rain and a very happy set of peas in the bales. Strong corn stalks are thriving on the side of the house near the garlic.

Overall, a very successful year so far, aside from the loss of two root veggies.

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