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Old 04-30-2013, 04:53 PM
 
Location: SE Michigan
6,191 posts, read 14,597,358 times
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A couple of months ago I read about straw bale gardening in the NYT, then later found this thread here:

Gardening in Straw Bales

So I am going for it. I have my straw bales set up and am "conditioning" them.

Here's my question...advice online is all over the place and really inconsistent. Basically, you keep the bales damp, then start adding a high-nitrogen content fertilizer or compost, or pee on your bales daily (OK, not happening here LOL) and in 10 days to a month, you plant.

So far I am following these instructions:

WVU Ext - Agriculture & Natural Resources | Straw Bale Gardening

They say blood meal or bone meal....but blood meal has twice the nitrogen than bone meal and both have more than regular compost. I have all three products; what would be best? I'm in zone 6-something and we are having an extremely wet spring. Can I mix and match? How much does it matter?

My eyes start glazing over pretty much instantly with talk of specific ratios and percentages and online advice, as I said, is all over the map. I've called around looking for local advice or classes or workshops but *crickets.*

Any thoughts from anyone? I love the concept!
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Old 04-30-2013, 06:12 PM
 
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Chiro, I was the OP in that thread. I use granulated urea, 45% N, and I added 1/2 C. to each bale and watered it in regularly, but I did that for a month, not 10 days.

All I do is scoop out the gooey-composting straw in a handful and then shove in some compost with the plant. Then I spread the gooey-composting straw around the plant as mulch.

People make things way too difficult. You know about raw diets for dogs, right? OMG, the number of people who treat their dogs like science experiments!

I forgot to order my bales, so I'm having to skip a year and now I have no idea where to put my pepper plants. I've already given up on doing tomatoes.
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Old 04-30-2013, 06:23 PM
 
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I just use the straw as a heavy mulch around the plants
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Old 05-01-2013, 04:31 AM
 
Location: SE Michigan
6,191 posts, read 14,597,358 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TinaMcG View Post
Chiro, I was the OP in that thread. I use granulated urea, 45% N, and I added 1/2 C. to each bale and watered it in regularly, but I did that for a month, not 10 days.

All I do is scoop out the gooey-composting straw in a handful and then shove in some compost with the plant. Then I spread the gooey-composting straw around the plant as mulch.

People make things way too difficult. You know about raw diets for dogs, right? OMG, the number of people who treat their dogs like science experiments!

I forgot to order my bales, so I'm having to skip a year and now I have no idea where to put my pepper plants. I've already given up on doing tomatoes.
You know, I just re-read that thread and should have simply followed your instructions, Tina!
Hey, we need a genuflecting emoticon...LOL.

OK, well I have already had the bales set out and damp for over a month, and because the instructions I read varied so much I decided to give them longer so by the time I can safely plant here it will be close to a month anyway. They're already starting to feel a bit warm.

Since I have the bone and blood meal already, can I just keep using those with the same results as granulated urea?
Did you just add the half cup per day, or did you have some sort of schedule where it varied?

You're probably right about people making it unecessarily confusing; after all, compost happens naturally all the time.
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Old 05-01-2013, 04:49 AM
 
Location: Bella Vista, Ark
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plantress View Post
I just use the straw as a heavy mulch around the plants
that is exactly what we did a couple of years ago. I think I still prefer reg mulch, but the straw did work well. It was a bad growing season here, way to hot, thus I probably didn't give it a fair trial.

Nita
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Old 05-01-2013, 05:04 AM
 
Location: SE Michigan
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Straw bale gardening is a whole different animal than using straw for mulch. It does make a handy mulch, however with the bale gardening the composting bales are the actual growing medium.

Check the link in my OP to Tina's post about it, she links to some cool photos of her straw bale garden.
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Old 05-01-2013, 06:21 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chiroptera View Post
You know, I just re-read that thread and should have simply followed your instructions, Tina!
Hey, we need a genuflecting emoticon...LOL.

OK, well I have already had the bales set out and damp for over a month, and because the instructions I read varied so much I decided to give them longer so by the time I can safely plant here it will be close to a month anyway. They're already starting to feel a bit warm.

Since I have the bone and blood meal already, can I just keep using those with the same results as granulated urea?
Did you just add the half cup per day, or did you have some sort of schedule where it varied?

You're probably right about people making it unecessarily confusing; after all, compost happens naturally all the time.
Half cup a week, ot day! If they're heating up and mushy, go ahead and plant. Use the bone and blood meal if you like, but I would just use a balanced fertilizer after planting. You don't want to compost any plant roots.
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Old 05-01-2013, 06:36 AM
 
Location: SE Michigan
6,191 posts, read 14,597,358 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TinaMcG View Post
Half cup a week, ot day! If they're heating up and mushy, go ahead and plant. Use the bone and blood meal if you like, but I would just use a balanced fertilizer after planting. You don't want to compost any plant roots.
Reading comprehension fail, OK, weekly.
In which case I can probably stop with the nitrogen additives since it's day nine and the bales are already getting a bit mushy inside. When I part the straw, I can see granules of the blood meal and I don't want to burn the wee plantlings.
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Old 05-01-2013, 06:39 AM
 
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You are correct, Grasshopper! Now do your planting and STAND BACK -- because you won't believe how quickly they grow! What are you planting in them? And remember, we'll be wanting pictures!
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Old 05-01-2013, 06:53 AM
 
Location: SE Michigan
6,191 posts, read 14,597,358 times
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I will take pictures! Right now it's just a row of bales along my front fence. Since I've been sprinkling them with blood and bone meal, the dogs are intensely interested in the whole process. But the bales are on the other side of the fence so they stick their snouts through the chain link and inhale deeply.

Mothers Day is the generally recognised planting date here. Tomatoes, green beans, okra, peppers, patty pan squash, basil, whatever else catches my eye....did you ever do any root vegetables?

I have six bales; don't plan on planting everything I need. I like to have an excuse to go the the farmers' market.
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