Ever wanted to give a bale garden a go? Don’t know where to start? It’s easy, we’ll show you how.
The first step is to purchase the bales you’ll be using, straw is best as there are fewer weed seeds in it, it is possible to use hay, just be prepared to pull out the grass as it grows. You can use as many bales as you wish, use just one if you don’t have the space for more.
Once you have arranged your bales on a firm bit of ground, they need to be ‘conditioned’ ready for planting. In order for your veg to grow, the bales need to begin breaking down so that the nutrients in them are available for the plants to take up. Conditioning your bales can be a lengthy process of watering your bales, adding manure and waiting until they start to break down, however, we have a super fast, Franger Farm, cheaty method that works just as well.
Thoroughly soak the bales, then add a good amount of chicken manure to the top of the bales and water in well. Next, add at least an inch thick layer of potting compost to the top of the bales and water again. You are now ready to plant your seeds.
Using the potting compost means that the seeds have something to get started in while the chicken manure aids the breakdown of the bales as the plants mature. It’s essential that you don’t let your bales dry out, they need to be kept wet so that the breakdown continues inside. After a few weeks, the bales will begin to feel soft and you will be able to push your hand into them easily.
All you need to do from now on is keep your bales well watered and they will provide you with a wonderful harvest of veg.
We have been able to get a second harvest from our bales, although here in Australia, we have very mild winters and a long growing season, if your bales are covered in several feet of snow over the winter, you probably won’t be able to use them again.
Once you have finished planting in your bales, you can use them as mulch on your garden or add them to your compost.
You can get so much out of a few bales of straw, why not experiment with this instant garden bed in your backyard.