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Old 07-31-2013, 07:51 AM
 
3,339 posts, read 6,598,139 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by southernpatriot1776 View Post
Good morning,Here's my story on using bails of hay to grow plants. First bale went fine,planted tomatoes and they continue to grow,good size tomatoes. Cut out a hole in the hay, to plant my tomato plant, put a good amount of Miracle-grow dirt in the hole and around my plants. Purchased that bail before summer at the local Lowe's in SC. Purchase another bail, at another Lowe's in NC and followed the same procedure. My beefsteak tomatoes looked find for a few day's and they began to die in the 2nd bail of hay. Tried everything that I could to keep the guy's healthy and alive. No luck. I finally removed them and replanted them in my raised bed. They instantly thrived and are at least waist high,producing great tomatoes. Appears the second bail may have been sprayed with something to kill off weed's. Not sure about that but just a guess. Appreciate this site. Great information form your readers. Take care SouthernPatriot1776
Go back in this thread and read the links on how to season the bales and then plant them. It sounds like you did it almost all wrong, and Miracle-Gro is not part of the recipe.
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Old 03-22-2014, 04:39 PM
 
Location: 2016 Clown Car...fka: Wisconsin
738 posts, read 693,170 times
Reputation: 1169
Planning my 3rd year of straw bale gardening. I've had some planting failures and many successes.

Preparing the bales is absolutely the key to success. The first year I did it, I did not condition the bales well enough and all the plants suffered...sigh... Last year I took the composting bales from the previous year, pulled them apart and planted directly in the straw. My plants were fabulous!

As soon as the weather breaks, I will be outside conditioning the bales with lots of high-nitrogen fertilizer to get them cooking early. Because from what I can tell, it's much better to get them breaking down into compost ASAP.

When done right, it's an effective way to grow a garden

RVcook

Edited to add: I highly recommend the Straw Bale Gardens book by Joel Karsten which is an excellent reference guide. The internet is fine for some things, but sometimes there is just too much conflicting information for my taste.
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Old 05-13-2014, 07:08 AM
 
Location: Kronenwetter, Wis
440 posts, read 925,647 times
Reputation: 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by RVcook View Post
Planning my 3rd year of straw bale gardening. I've had some planting failures and many successes.

Preparing the bales is absolutely the key to success. The first year I did it, I did not condition the bales well enough and all the plants suffered...sigh... Last year I took the composting bales from the previous year, pulled them apart and planted directly in the straw. My plants were fabulous!

As soon as the weather breaks, I will be outside conditioning the bales with lots of high-nitrogen fertilizer to get them cooking early. Because from what I can tell, it's much better to get them breaking down into compost ASAP.

When done right, it's an effective way to grow a garden

RVcook

Edited to add: I highly recommend the Straw Bale Gardens book by Joel Karsten which is an excellent reference guide. The internet is fine for some things, but sometimes there is just too much conflicting information for my taste.
Book mentioned by RVcook is a must have. Lots and lots of good tips. It gives precise info on preparing the bales before planting.

This will be my second year of SBG. Last year I had huge success with tomato plants. If you only plant a few tomato plants in a couple bales, it's well worth it.
Other stuff was ok but not great. My fault I think, not the straw bales. Will make a few changes this year.

Last year I placed my bales a couple feet from mature arbor vitae shrubs. In the fall when I removed bales, I noticed the roots from the arbor vitae had grown up into the bales from the bottom (seeking that fertilizer). I'm wondering if landscape fabric placed under bales will prevent this. Only one way to find out.
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Old 05-13-2014, 08:36 AM
 
Location: 2016 Clown Car...fka: Wisconsin
738 posts, read 693,170 times
Reputation: 1169
Quote:
Originally Posted by SportFury59 View Post
Book mentioned by RVcook is a must have. Lots and lots of good tips. It gives precise info on preparing the bales before planting.

This will be my second year of SBG. Last year I had huge success with tomato plants. If you only plant a few tomato plants in a couple bales, it's well worth it.
Other stuff was ok but not great. My fault I think, not the straw bales. Will make a few changes this year.

Last year I placed my bales a couple feet from mature arbor vitae shrubs. In the fall when I removed bales, I noticed the roots from the arbor vitae had grown up into the bales from the bottom (seeking that fertilizer). I'm wondering if landscape fabric placed under bales will prevent this. Only one way to find out.
Ughh...those arbor vitae's are notorious for their spreading roots! If your bales are offering up a good supply of fertilizer (that runs out of the bales) I suspect that the roots will find it regardless of the weed matt. If you have anywhere else you could place the bales, it may be worth moving them, but if not then perhaps an extra heavy, industrial grade landscape fabric may work. If that's not an option, then maybe doubling or tripling the fabric as an extra barrier may deter the roots. Not sure, but worth a try.

On the flip side, I'll bet the arbor vitae's were nicely thick and green from all the fertilizer they consumed

I live in sand country and so far, SBG is the best way for me to have a garden that actually produces with little work. This year I moved a portion of my bales and just plopped them on top of my in-ground garden because I was tired of fighting the weeds. To keep the critters out of my garden, I also took Karsten's advice and installed a Scarecrow. That garden tool is AMAZING!

Now...if the weather just cooperates, it could be a great growing year!

RVcook
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Old 05-15-2014, 08:17 AM
 
Location: Kronenwetter, Wis
440 posts, read 925,647 times
Reputation: 255
Now I know why my arbor vitae's are looking so good, lol, didn't make the connection.

I have access to saw mill boards. Maybe I'll cut a few to size and set the bales on them along with doubling up the landscape fabric. Don't really want to relocate them as they are in an ideal spot, except for the AV's.

Speaking of weather not cooperating, it might get down to the 30's tonight in my area. Fired up the wood stove this morning.
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Old 05-15-2014, 08:52 AM
 
Location: 2016 Clown Car...fka: Wisconsin
738 posts, read 693,170 times
Reputation: 1169
Quote:
Originally Posted by SportFury59 View Post
Now I know why my arbor vitae's are looking so good, lol, didn't make the connection.

I have access to saw mill boards. Maybe I'll cut a few to size and set the bales on them along with doubling up the landscape fabric. Don't really want to relocate them as they are in an ideal spot, except for the AV's.

Speaking of weather not cooperating, it might get down to the 30's tonight in my area. Fired up the wood stove this morning.
As a preventative measure, the idea of using a board under each bale is probably going to give you the best results. Because the plants roots never reach the ground, I don't think you have to worry about leeching anything that could harm the plants. So yeah...sounds like a good plan.

Although we had a string of some nice days, the nights are still a little cold for my liking and my wood stove is still getting a regular workout too. My bales should be finished with prepping in 10 days, then the planting begins

"C'mon nice weather...!"

RVcook
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Old 06-27-2015, 01:14 PM
 
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Reputation: 10
Hello. This is the first time that I thought of doing something different like raise beds by using straw bales. I prepaired them as alot of the website said. The problem I'm getting is my seeds aren't germinating and the starters are dieing but I do have a healthy crop of mushrooms in all the bales. Help!! My growing season is getting shorter. I live in the mountains in southern CA. The bales are in full sun and are getting watered daily. I thought that maybe they were still to hot but this isn't the fact. I did prep with bone meal and fish emultions like many of the websites said. I have also tried using calcium for the tomatoes to promote growth.
CaCounrty.
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Old 04-24-2016, 02:44 PM
 
Location: Northern Utah
2 posts, read 780 times
Reputation: 10
Default more training?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TinaMcG View Post
Bone meal? No, you're not supposed to add bone meal while you're seasoning the bales. It's supposed to be a high nitrogen fertilizer. I add granular urea. Then when you plant, you're supposed to scoop out the semi-comkposted straw, tuck in a generous amouint of compost, and then replace the straw you pulled out. You are also supposed to season them, with water and nitrogen, for a good month before you plant. Keep them evenlymoist, but not soaking. Sorry it didn't work out for you.
I have found MANY differing opinions / books / articles on this subject of straw bale gardening and so I can understand the original post and the frustration there.

Anyway, I'm very open to new perspectives and training to help me weigh out the various options / ideas. Would you mind sharing where your training on the subject came from? A website, book, class, experience? I'm hoping its a book I can buy or site I can go to for more training. Thanks!
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Old 04-24-2016, 03:01 PM
 
Location: Northern Utah
2 posts, read 780 times
Reputation: 10
Default I am looking for straw bales to prchase where the grains were not sprayed with any persistent herbicides like Grazon or

Found a site titled Hidden Dangers of Straw Bale Gardening that talks about bales having straw that was sprayed with a persistent herbicide like Grazon or CleanWave that are designed to kill most things others than grasses so that farmers don't get blackberries and weeds, etc, infesting / taking over their grain fields. Is it possible this is what happened with the original poster's garden? Have 9thers experienced this problem? or is it not as prevalent as that site suggests?
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Old 04-24-2016, 04:19 PM
 
Location: Old Hippie Heaven
13,510 posts, read 5,360,218 times
Reputation: 7071
I tried it a couple years back, and was unhappy with it.

First, it was very hard to get the bales wet enough, and I didn't. I was living in a water-limited situation, and they take up a *ton* of water. If I were to try it again, I'd put the bales out in February and let the rain do it for me.

Second, and more worrying, I found the plants grown in the bales were far more susceptible to insect damage than the same varieties planted a few feet away in the ground. I don't use insecticides, so this was a major factor.

As for the herbicide issue, yes it is a real problem. Try to find a source for organic straw. Failing that, you can test bales before you plant them by trying to sprout seeds - see this http://cals.arizona.edu/cochise/wate...rdens_6-13.pdf
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