• Growing veggies in the remnants of a straw bale garden

    by  • April 2, 2015 • Edibles, Garden, Sierra Foothills

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    This Year’s Veg Garden Experiment:

    The last two years have been straw bale gardens with great success!  This year, there is still so much straw that I decided to see how the tomatoes and peppers would do in the remnants of composted soil and leftover straw.

    The garden in November 2014

    The garden in November 2014

    When observing the garden for the first time after the Winter, I saw a few dried tomato vines and the blue string that encircled the four straw bales that acted as ‘soil’ for last season’s tomatoes and peppers.

     

    Last year's garden, raked and ready

    Last year’s garden, raked and ready

    I picked about five or six weeds, that’s all!

    The old straw is mixed with the rich soil

    The old straw is mixed with the rich soil

    When raking out the mounds of old straw, I was simply delighted to see that all the old straw from the last two years had formed a foot high mound of the blackest, richest looking soil I’ve ever seen. I mixed the old straw with the soil with my hands and mounded the whole thing up about one foot again.

    Drip lines are still in place

    Drip lines are still in place

    I added a box of Blood Meal to add nitrogen in case the composting had diminished it, and then watered it in well.

    Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers planted early this drought year, on March 30!

    Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers planted early this drought year, on March 30!

    In the last two  years, I used four straw bales forming the ‘L’ three on the long side and one at the bottom.  These mounds lay in the same places.   I’m expecting the roots to extend into the ground under the soil mix here.

    Note: From the previous years, hardware cloth was put down under the bales to discourage any possible gophers and is still there.

    The 'L' shaped garden mounds, planted

    The ‘L’ shaped garden mounds, planted

    You can see the “L” shaped mounds here with a flat of veggies I planted yesterday. Next, I’ll string up the wire trellis and when weather gets hot in July start the drip system going.

    Last year's strawberries in the Hugelgarten are looking well after just a few meager Winter rains

    Last year’s strawberries in the Hugelgarten are looking well after just a few meager Winter rains

    I love garden experiments!

    More of the story:

    Part 1: Trying out a straw bale garden

    Part 2: Summer progress on the straw bale garden

    Part 3: Straw Bale gardening in the Sierra foothills: Harvest

     

    The Book:

    STRAW BALE GARDEN:Straw Bale Gardens: The Breakthrough Method for Growing Vegetables Anywhere, Earlier and with No Weeding by Joel Karsten

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    About

    Sue Langley, a passionate gardener and photographer lives and gardens with her husband and Corgi, Maggie on 7 acres just south of Yosemite, Zone 7 at 3000 feet. She also manages the Flea Market Gardening Facebook page and website.