This will be my 7th year Straw Bale Gardening and I've enclosed a link to my most recent article that describes how to get started.
As you can see, I originally started this thread back in 2007. I've updated this 1st page as time goes by.
Straw Bale Garden Basic Instructions: http://www.carolinacountry.com/index...aw-bale-garden
5/18/09 - WRAL-TV story about my bale garden: http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/5163798/
Face Book fans page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Straw-...9423324?ref=nf
Now is the perfect time to purchase those bales and get your garden going.
Strawbale gardening is great for:
1. Those whose health and physical limitations prevent them from doing traditional "dirt" gardening. My daddy has had several strokes and this is the only way he can garden. I can't tell you how many calls and letters I've received from folks who had given up gardening until they read about this method.
2. Those with limited space in their yard.
3. Those with bad soils.
Here's some additional answers to the most common questions I get:
1. If you have a hard time locating some ammonium nitrate, Southern States carries it. It comes in 40-50 lb bags, so go in together with a friend. It only takes 2.25 cups/bale to help prep the bales and a bag holds about 80+ cups. Check with any agri-supply place, too. If you can't find any ammonium nitrate, then you can use BLOOD MEAL that is readily available at Home Depot, Lowes, etc. Use about 1 cup/bale every other day on days 4, 6, and 8.
NOTE: If you put your bales out at least 3 - 4 weeks before it's time to plant, you can eliminate the need to add any type of nitrogen-rich ingredient to the bales. Actually, the earlier you get your bales out and start watering them down, the better. They'll soften up more and be better to work with.
I haven't used any nitrogen in my pre-prep process in the last 3 years.
Only if you want to plant within 2 weeks after getting your bales do I recommend adding anything to the bales to get them prepared. It won't hurt if you do, just probably an unnecessary step.
2. Wheat straw, oat straw, rye straw, and hay will work. PINE STRAW won't work. Ask the seller if they have any straw that is moldy or old. This is can usually be bought at a discount. Ask any landscaper where they got their straw. Locally, Home Depot had bales for around $4.50 at one time. I purchased 65 oat straw bales from a local farmer for $3/bale. Most places that sell mulch usually carries some wheat straw.
3. Your bales will soon sprout which is no problem. When the wheat/oat/rye sprouts get tall enough to grab, just cut them off with a knife. I call it giving my bales a "haircut". Mushrooms will also pop out which is OK. Just knock the caps off if you don't like them.
4. This year I'm putting my bales with the string sides down and I'm using bales with regular twine, not the plastic. Putting your bales either way works fine and I'm finding that with the strings on the ground, the water doesn't run through the bales nearly as fast, and I like that.
5. One of the biggest differences in bale gardening is the watering. As the bales decompose over time, the straw holds more moisture for a longer period. Just don't let your bales dry out.
6. Great gardening site where we have a Strawbale Garden forum: http://davesgarden.com/community/for...strawbale/all/
There's a small fee to access this particular forum, but the price is well worth it.
Have a great and blessed day.
Wake Forest, NC
NOTE: I changed my screen name to "Kent" beginning on Post #93, 8/30/2007.