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Monday, April 20, 2015

Straw Bale Gardening: Timeline Journal

Straw Bale Gardening: Timeline Journal

How long does it take to start a straw bale garden?  You need to obtain straw bales, condition the bales, and plant your garden in (or on) the straw bales.  How long does this process take?  Here is the timeline for starting my straw bale garden from scratch in 2015.

Note: the location is in southeastern Iowa where the last frost date is around May 10.  Planting dates in your location may vary...

If you want to learn all about straw bale gardens, you can learn everything from planning through harvest:

March 28: Started seeds growing in indoor trays.  These plants will be moved into the straw bales later on.  You can buy plants at a green house or grocery store to plant in your straw bales, but we started our own to save money.
Starting Plants for Straw Bale Garden
Starting Plants for Straw Bale Garden
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

April 3: Bought 25 bales of straw from a local farmer.  I decided on 25 bales since this many bales would fit well in the space I had in mind.  Also, 25 straw bales is about the maxim number that will fit in a single pick-up truck load.
Bringing Home Straw Bales
Bringing Home Straw Bales
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher


April 4:  Put down landscape fabric, set the bales in place, and staked them down.  This article talks about how to get started at straw bale gardening.

Straw Bales in Place for Straw Bale Garden
Straw Bales in Place for Straw Bale Garden
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher


April 9:  Started 10 day straw bale conditioning.  Conditioning adds fertilizer into bales and starts the bales breaking down into compost.  This article has the recipe for what to add to condition the bales.

Conditioning Straw Bales for Planting
Conditioning Straw Bales for Planting
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher


April 18: Last day of straw bale conditioning.  Added wood ash and bone meal in addition to compost fertilizer.

April 19:  First planting today.  Planted spinach from seeds and seed potatoes.  I planted the spinach seeds on top of two straw bales in about an inch of topsoil.  I stuck the seed potato segments about 4 inches deep into two straw bales.  I used a small garden trowel to dig down into the bale so I could put the seed potatoes in.  There was no need to add soil on top for the potatoes.  The straw is getting soft and is clearly starting to break down into compost.

Spinach Seeds Planted in Soil On Top of Straw Bale
Spinach Seeds Planted in Soil On Top of Straw Bale
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

April 22: Planted peas today.  Just stuck the pea seeds down into the bales with no topsoil.  Planted 80 seeds in two bales.

April 30: The spinach sprouted today.  We planted this from seeds 11 days ago.

Today we planted broccoli, cauliflower, and onions.  The broccoli and cauliflower were small plants and the onions were onion sets for planting.

Broccoli and Cauliflower Planted in Straw Bales
Broccoli and Cauliflower Planted in Straw Bales
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher
Onion Sets Planted in Straw Bale
Onion Sets Planted in Straw Bale
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher
Spinach Sprouted from Seed
Spinach Sprouted from Seed
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

May 2: Peas are up today!  We noticed that they are starting to poke up out of the straw this afternoon.

May 14: Cucumbers are planted in the bales.  These were started from seeds and transplanted into the bales.

May 23:  Planted the remaining vegetables in the bales.  It has been cold and rainy this year, so we kept our plants inside to let them get a little bigger before we moved them out.  Here's what we planted today in the bales:

  • String Beans from seeds
  • Peppers
  • Jalapeno Peppers
  • Tomoatoes
  • Cantalope

As you can see on the right side of the garden, the spinach and peas are off to a good start.  The bales are breaking down nicely- it was very easy to poke the bean seeds right into the bales.

Everything is Planted- the Spinach and Peas are off to a good start.
Everything is Planted- the Spinach and Peas are off to a good start.
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

May 28:  The potatoes planted from seed potatoes are coming up.  I was beginning to wonder if they were going to grow or not.  Also, the green beans planted 5 days ago from seed are coming up already.

June 10:  First harvest from the straw bale garden today- spinach!  My wife picked enough to make a giant salad for lunch to take to work and I did the same.  The spinach has been ready since at least June 1, but just got around to harvesting it.

Straw Bale Garden in June- Everything is Growing
Straw Bale Garden in June- Everything is Growing
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher
I will keep adding to the straw bale gardening timeline journal- stop back to see how it turns out and how long it takes for a straw bale garden to produce vegetables...

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1 comment:

  1. This is very interesting and a different way of gardening.

    ReplyDelete