As January 1 approached I began jotting down what I planned on putting in the garden this year. This included all the work that was required and I have been rather tired dealing with weeds. Who hasn’t? The year prior, I read some blogs on straw bale gardening. Where I live, you don’t drive far to find feed barns.
End of January I shopped at one of my favorite farm and ranch stores and got a truck load of hay. Starting with smaller 2 string bales, these were placed along the back fence where there is a gap, rather an open door for George and family, the coons who had been paying visits to my back yard. More on that later.
There are larger 3 string bales in rows in other parts of my garden. I prefer these larger bales simply due to size. They are packed tight too and that means they will hold moisture better.
There are plenty of websites and abundant information on the web and local garden centers on gardening using bales of straw. For those of you new to this, I emphasize straw bale, not hay bales. There is Bermuda, Alfalfa, Oat, Clover, Timothy and more. Don’t buy these. Buy straw. If you get the grass bales wet and conditioned, you will get grass! Straw will have a little bit in it as you will see in one of my pictures but you will not get a bunch of hay or clover. Sometimes the grasses get all mixed up and you get a bale of luck. Don’t toss it. Just work with it.
Each bale was placed on cardboard to prevent grass and weeds from growing up in my bales. The cardboard over time will add organic matter to the soil. I’ve used cardboard and mulch on the soil where the rose bush is planted with success and good weed control. The rose bush has not looked better.
Once placed in January, fertilizer was sprinkled on the bales and they were watered each day for about a week. Then the rains came and I let nature take its course. The bales were kept wet however for conditioning. They are now ready for planting! The bales need time to condition although many gardeners state you can do this in five days. I prefer a longer period for conditioning, no less than one month.