[STRAW BALE WITH ZUCHINNI PLANTS, ABOVE]
Breaking ground and preparing the garden beds for planting is on my mind in April. I will be expanding my straw bale gardening this season as last year the results were very positive. My bales produced plenty of zuchinni and even three picnic-sized watermelons. This year I want to plant my tomatoes in bales as well and set out bales in a space in my Grandma’s Garden enclosure to utilize a new spot.
I love the bales because they naturally decompose over the season and are terrific compost for my earth beds. Also, my seeds grow but weeds do not as the bales contain no weed seeds. Heaven!!! That is why I am putting 3 bales in the tomato bed right on top of the soil. No weeds to worry about; just tomato plants.
The hardest part of gardening is breaking ground in the spring. Turning the soil and cultivating it for planting is tough work but breaking new ground through sod and clay is harder. With bales, I just set them where I want. Instant raised bed!!!
To prepare straw bales for planting, put them out now before it is time to plant warm weather seeds and starts. Dose them with nitrogen-rich fertilizer to begin the decomposing process. I also like to add a little good potting soil to the top. Ruffle the top of the bales to receive the fertilizer and soil. Then let the spring rain do its work. By May, the bales will be ready to plant. The internal temperature of the bales will also be higher than the spring ground as decomposition takes place, which encourages new seeds and plants to thrive.
I am fortunate to have neighbors who sell straw bales on their farm. This week, I am paying them a call to pick up about 7 bales. The trip to her farm to pet the dog and cats and visit her straw storage shed is part of the fun.