Day 1 – Yesterday I got my first straw bale garden bed cooking. Literally, I guess. Per the instructions in Fine Gardening (This video is not as complete as the article in the magazine), I set up the bales, filled the hole and covered the top with compost, sprinkled it with granular fertilizer, and watered it thoroughly. During the next 10-14 days, as I continue to douse it with a diluted fish emulsion fertilizer solution every day, it is going to go through a chemical cycle that breaks down the straw and generates some heat, but not enough to lead to a fire, as sometimes happens with hay or straw stacked for storage when it is too moist.
My straw bales must have been longer that those used in the tutorial, because my space in the middle was comparatively huge . I dumped about 8 -10 wheelbarrow loads of compost by the time I filled it and covered the top with a layer. However, limited space is not an issue for me. I am interested in this method as a way to create a nice, warm mound for a large squash plant at the entrance to our driveway. It looks like I will also have some room for some flowers, like giant zinnias, that can poke up through the plant and add some color.
I’m considering putting some rocks or something around it, since it might look to the neighbors like I’m putting out my harvest decorations too soon…. It will be another couple of months before the squash and flowers come close to covering it. Meanwhile, it’s kind of like gardening crock-pot style.