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Straw Bale Gardens.


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#1 prof_it_e

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Posted 17 March 2016 - 01:21 AM

Always liked the idea of growing my food but things never settled down long enough for me to get round to trying it. That seems to have changed and now starting to look into what my options are, this seems to be an encouragingly easy option (I don't have much space or experience). I'm picking up my first two straw bales tomorrow so will see how it goes. I thought I'd share this in case anyone else might be interested.

 

strawbalegardens.com

 

(@ facebook;) learntogrowastrawbalegarden

 

[Direct Link]


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#2 Myc

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Posted 17 March 2016 - 08:06 AM

I'm doing the same. This is my third year running with straw bales. Anxiously awaiting your input.

I started prepping bales back in February and things are progressing wonderfully.

 

My original intent was to inoculate the bales with a companion of King Oyster or King Stropharia.

Looking at the attached photo, you may see that the idea has failed already - there is a coprinoid specie running through the bales. Information brought to the table by Vesp has led me to think of another idea. I need fresh bales of straw to try it out.

 

The tarp in the photograph has functioned much like a spawn-bag.

I'm thinking of inoculating the bales and using some yeast tea to help the desired cultivar outrun the existing residents.

Pass or fail, I will post-up results as the experiment takes shape.

 

Good to see someone else jumping in on this easy, fun way to garden.

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#3 PsyBearknot

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Posted 17 March 2016 - 06:59 PM

Abhh yes, it is indeed perfect timing.

Going to bale out this year my self.

Have a 15x15 space to work with.

Thinking of a hybrid straw bale raised garden concept.

First I gotta clean the place up a little.image.jpeg
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#4 pharmer

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Posted 17 March 2016 - 07:17 PM

the straw bales will solve a problem for my limited space

 

there are some ancient and huge  Box Elder tree trunks that simply will not die and go away no matter how much they're pruned and hacked down.

 

a genius had the idea of dumping 50ish pounds of salt at the base of the trees to poison its' roots. this will probably work but it will definitely mess up the adjacent soil for a long long time.

 

so, ten bales to the rescue! I'm guessing I'll put plastic under the bales to prevent any wicking up of the salt.

 

and the bales will be precisely where the black plastic pipe I'll be watering with will be split and valved into zones so it will be easy to run soakers directly onto the bales.

 

how nice that something easy is going to happen for a change.


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#5 PsyBearknot

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Posted 18 March 2016 - 01:58 PM

What are you all doing to condition the bales. I read that is where most people who fail missed a step with conditioning.
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#6 Juthro

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Posted 18 March 2016 - 02:33 PM

We grew our potatoes in straw, and grass clippings from the lawn last year. It was the most successful potato grow we have had here to date. It made harvesting them easy as well.

19.jpg
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#7 pharmer

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Posted 18 March 2016 - 02:33 PM

it's all in the links in the OP



#8 prof_it_e

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Posted 18 March 2016 - 04:04 PM

What are you all doing to condition the bales. I read that is where most people who fail missed a step with conditioning.

 

I'm so green at this so am sticking to the book on it; says in this video sprinkle about a half cup of normal cheap lawn fertilizer (with at least 20% nitrogen, without herbicide in it or other poisons) on top of each bale on days 1, 3 & 5, spray the fertilizer into the bale with a hose. I gather planting day is a few days after that, he says in the beginning that the bale needs 10 to 12 days to be conditioned so 5 to 7 days after the third fertilizer treatment is when you should be good to go.

 

[Direct Link]


Edited by prof_it_e, 18 March 2016 - 04:11 PM.

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#9 Myc

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Posted 18 March 2016 - 06:26 PM

What are you all doing to condition the bales. I read that is where most people who fail missed a step with conditioning.

 

I use a mixture of organics:

blood meal

bone meal

alfalfa meal 

and kelp meal. 

 

Just mix the ingredients in a improvised shaker can and sprinkle the mix over the bales. Water lightly but often for best moisture distribution. After a few days, the bales become saturated and need much less water. In my experiments, I keep the bales wrapped up in a tarp with the sides loosely open for FAE. They are opened twice daily for a temp check - just like fanning out a tub. ;)

 

Works like a charm.

 

You can also top-dress the bales with compost or soil if you want to get started a little early. Plant seedlings in the compost layout and they'll root down into the seasoned bales. The warmth of the microbial activity acts like a seedling heat mat. ;)


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#10 Myc

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Posted 19 March 2016 - 08:29 AM

Joel Karsten is the one who got me started on this path. I have his book "Straw Bale Gardens" and used it in conjunction with "Teaming with Microbes" by Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis. Throw-in knowledge gained from "The Mushroom Cultivator" and "Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms" - Paul Stamets.

Then add several years of interacting with some of the most brilliant cultivation innovators on the 'net...........(you folks). 

 

I didn't have much time to type yesterday so I'll flesh-out the dry ingredient recipe.

 

The instruction on the package is followed. 

For example, blood meal is applied at a rate of: " 1 cup per 20 square feet of garden area or 1 tbsp. per square foot " 

I simply did some "cowboy math" and computed area of the largest face of one bale (roughly 2.5 ft. x 1.5 ft. = 3.75 ft.)

So the amount of blood meal used was 3.75 tbsp. per bale (just to be on the safe side). You can always add more later - but it's tough to take things out once added. Best to go on the light side until you have a season or two of experience - and then, also best to run a few experiments before getting too bold by trying to create "preferential" substrates. 

 

The temperature of the bales is monitored and the bales are "rolled" to expose a new side about every 3 days to ensure even distribution of the materials throughout the substrate. After 12 - 18 days the temps drop down into the 100*F range.

 

I grew potatoes last year by piling the "duff" from the bales around the potato plants as they grew. This was a modification of a "bucket grow" which used straw in the same way. I just let the plants sprout and then began "burying" them incrementally with loose straw as they grew taller. 

 

In another experiment, I am following some information brought to the table by Vesp.

Using yeast as a companion to ready a substrate for inoculation of Pleurotus fungi seems promising. I plan on "brewing" a yeast tea and applying with a hose-end liquid applicator for distribution. 

 

Thanks to everyone for helping me to get back on track with my gardening interests. It's been a few years since I've had this degree of enthusiasm and it feels good to be back on the creative side again.

 

 


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#11 Heirloom Spores

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Posted 19 March 2016 - 09:11 AM

great videos, this subject has me excited. This will complement my huge containers.


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#12 Juthro

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Posted 19 March 2016 - 12:30 PM

Myc, I haven't read that book by Jeff yet, but I've been meaning to. I am a fan of Jeff Lowenfels though.

He is from Anchorage, and is our regional gardening expert. He has a weekly column in the Alaska Dispatch News, that has included cool articles, like how to grow your own pot, now that's its legal.
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#13 PsyBearknot

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Posted 24 March 2016 - 07:41 PM

Barley straw or prairie grass straw ?
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#14 Heirloom Spores

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Posted 24 March 2016 - 09:15 PM

I don't think it matters here we got wheat straw. I think it will all work the same. I know my mycelium loves it .
 



#15 PsyBearknot

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Posted 24 March 2016 - 09:55 PM

Wheat straw is 7.50 a bale where the barley and prairie is 3.50 -4.50

Worked a lot of ot on my last check and hopefully will be getting my bales this weekend
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#16 prof_it_e

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Posted 24 March 2016 - 11:35 PM

We have a choice of teff and hay, I think the teff is also called lucerne. They sell them at farm animal pet shops out here, one you feed to horses and one you feed to smaller animals I think. We get the rougher looking one, the teff, the stuff for horses, it's more expensive at R80 ($5 on your side?). I think anything is fine as long as it's not corn or linseed, and as long as the heads have been cut off, you don't want too much seed in your bale. We picked up three a week ago, it looks more or less like below except a little darker now after conditioning it for a few days. We got carried away and picked up another three yesterday; can't wait to get stuff planted! One issue is for some reason a mole has pitched up in the garden, I'm a little nervous that he wants in on this and me needing to intervene... might have been a better idea to seal the bottom with wire or something. Oh well, live and learn.

 

IMG_0506.JPG


Edited by prof_it_e, 24 March 2016 - 11:40 PM.

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#17 PsyBearknot

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Posted 25 March 2016 - 05:11 AM

Nice. I like te plastic fencing around the bales zip tied!
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#18 PsyBearknot

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Posted 25 March 2016 - 05:45 AM

So hay bales work as well you just have to be concerned about weeds ?

#19 Myc

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Posted 25 March 2016 - 07:59 AM

So hay bales work as well you just have to be concerned about weeds ?

 

The first year it was Wheat Straw bales

Last year it was Oat Straw bales

This year it is Barley Straw bales

The bales I bought were a touch on the expensive side at $7.40/bale - but it's certified organic (if that helps any). 

 

You are correct in wanting straw. Hay still contains the seed-heads with seeds intact. 

Any type of straw bale gardening will introduce some new characters into your habitat. Clover seems to be a common contaminant - along with the occasional grass-burr. 


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#20 PsyBearknot

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Posted 01 April 2016 - 12:24 PM

Straw bales being delivered today!

<Throws garden gloved hands in the air>

WOOT! WOOT!

<ducks as the dirt from gloves rains down on head>

<brushes shoulder off like a PIMP!>
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