U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Garden
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
 
Old 07-16-2013, 08:34 AM
 
902 posts, read 1,542,083 times
Reputation: 812

Advertisements

So I read up and up and UP on straw bale gardening before trying it this year. From what I had read, it sounded pretty much no-fail. I even talked to a friend who told me she had been doing it this way for 30 years, and had never had a problem, that everything flourished!

I made sure it was straw, and not hay....
I set them up the right way, so the string was not on the ground....
I soaked the daylights out of them for a solid two weeks.....
Added bone meal for several days, etc.- just like I had read about.....

I had plants that I started from seed- after the last frost (which was June 7th in our area, I didn't plant until a week or two after that, just to be on the safe side) I put them all in. I had some extras that I put in pots on our deck.

Well....here's how it went:

The cherry tomato plants I put into my straw bales withered away and died no matter what I did. I put in zucchini plants that withered and died as well, after being mauled to pieces by some mysterious "thing". I bought some beefsteak tomato plants, two of which I put in the straw bale, and two I put into a pot on the deck. I had some Anaheim pepper plants that I put into the straw bale, some mini bell peppers that I put into the straw bale, along with some in a pot. Everything I planted was good for my zone, although I worried about the Anaheim peppers as they need a lot of sun and heat. I planted the garden where it got sun for more than six hours a day.

Here's where it stands today:

The beefsteak tomato plants I put into the straw bale are positively spindly. They get plenty of water, and the funny thing is, the beefsteaks I put into the pot are positively flourishing, and twice the size. They all came from the same tray, so it isn't like I bought two separate trays and maybe one wasn't that great. All of the tomato plants I have also have marigolds planted around them as companion plants to keep whatever it is away that marigolds keep away...

The cherry tomatoes are flourishing in the pot, whereas the ones in the bale died out and withered within a week.

The Anaheims, strangely enough, are flourishing in the bale, although I think they should be bigger by now.

I have to admit, I'm really disappointed! I really thought that the straw bales would be a great idea after everything I had read about it. I do know that I will be using lots of large pots next year, as that seems to work better for me-but I really can't figure out just what it is that happened. I mean, my straw bale garden looks positively pathetic and sickly, whereas my deck is a riot of growing things!

Anybody have any thoughts on this?
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 07-16-2013, 09:19 AM
 
3,339 posts, read 6,586,774 times
Reputation: 4192
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.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-16-2013, 01:26 PM
 
902 posts, read 1,542,083 times
Reputation: 812
I have no idea what happened, but almost every article I read said bone meal, blood meal, or compost...? And it said to get them thoroughly soaked through for roughly two weeks prior, using the meal the last five days or so. Maybe I didn't dig out enough of the straw when I put the potting soil in, I have no idea. All I know is next year, I'm going with pots, lol- it seemed such a great idea, and I was so excited about it- but I have to say....when I was putting the bone meal on, the smell..omg. And the flies, ugh, hahaha-

I will leave the straw bale gardening for experienced gardeners, and let the potting soil companies figure out what needs to go in- I just seem to mess it up when it's left up to me, lol!
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-16-2013, 02:58 PM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.
36,009 posts, read 37,915,695 times
Reputation: 45797
My first straw bale garden, photos.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-16-2013, 04:00 PM
 
902 posts, read 1,542,083 times
Reputation: 812
Quote:
Originally Posted by no kudzu View Post
Ok, just rub it in, why don't you!
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-16-2013, 04:25 PM
 
3,339 posts, read 6,586,774 times
Reputation: 4192
Quote:
Originally Posted by mostie View Post
I have no idea what happened, but almost every article I read said bone meal, blood meal, or compost...? And it said to get them thoroughly soaked through for roughly two weeks prior, using the meal the last five days or so. Maybe I didn't dig out enough of the straw when I put the potting soil in, I have no idea. All I know is next year, I'm going with pots, lol- it seemed such a great idea, and I was so excited about it- but I have to say....when I was putting the bone meal on, the smell..omg. And the flies, ugh, hahaha-

I will leave the straw bale gardening for experienced gardeners, and let the potting soil companies figure out what needs to go in- I just seem to mess it up when it's left up to me, lol!
I think you got some bad advice. Nitrogen is what works with the straw (carbon) to compost the inside of the bale -- and soaking the bales isn't the way to do it. Even moisture is what you do.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-21-2013, 03:14 PM
 
1 posts, read 6,328 times
Reputation: 12
Seems strange to sorta be blasting a technique, when you didn't really know what you were doing. You absolutely must use something with Nitrogen in the conditioning process, it isn't optional, and you will not be successful without it. Your comments remind me of the recipe reviews where someone gives a recipe one star and then says, well i didn't have sugar so i substituted onions, and I didn't have enough milk so I used pickle juice instead, and I really didn't like this recipe at all! I've done Straw Bale Gardening for 20 years and it has always been extremely successful. Your comments are less than fair.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-21-2013, 05:12 PM
 
3,339 posts, read 6,586,774 times
Reputation: 4192
I didn't think the OP was blasting the straw bale method, just reporting bad results that seem to have been caused by using a bad recipe.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-21-2013, 06:21 PM
 
Location: SE Michigan
6,191 posts, read 13,685,984 times
Reputation: 10184
Hi mostie, I'm the OP of the thread linked to above...if I remember right, you're in northern Michigan or the UP? I'm in SE MI and wonder if the cool, rainy spring weather had anything to do with it. I researched the heck out of this before I started and you're not alone, some people definitely report failures with straw bale gardens for various reasons. Is it possible yours were treated with something inhospitable to growing?

I used a 50/50 mix of organic bone and blood meal to condition the bales. I'm feeding them with fish emulsion every week or two now. I set mine out by late April so they got plenty of rain before, during and after conditioning. I'm wondering if yours actually heated up sufficiently before planting? Or get enough sun? It's been a rough spring and early summer for veggie gardening up here that's for sure. It definitely took mine longer than what I read to start heating up and getting mushy. Everything I read was 10 days to two weeks....I'd say mine took a good month. I planted in late May. Also, my strings are on the ground...I've read that it really doesn't matter that much.

Anyhow (not to rub it in again LOL) my tomatoes are freaking spectacular in the bales. I also have some in containers and in the ground and the bales tomatoes are doing so much better. One of my container 'mater plants has got blight and I think it's a goner; too bad since it is loaded with green cherry tomatoes and spraying it doesn't seem to be working. Bush beans and herbs and baby eggplants in bales are producing like crazy right now. I also planted a few marigolds in the bales and they appear happy.

On the downside, I definitely have a slug issue in the bales, and nowhere else. A mechanical barrier of sandpaper is working for me (Tina also suggested copper, which is apparently very effective.) The okra I put in the bales is pretty much stagnant although is doing well in containers; apparently slugs really love okra.

Anyhow mostie, I wouldn't give up! I do think it's a very viable option and I am doing it again next year at least for my tomatoes, assuming the putative harvest is as successful as it appears it will be.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-31-2013, 07:39 AM
 
5 posts, read 18,782 times
Reputation: 15
Default my story on bails of hay

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
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Garden
Similar Threads

All times are GMT -6.

2005-2017, Advameg, Inc.

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32 - Top