straw bale gardening


June 14th 2014

The growth we’re seeing out of the bales is great. The peppers and eggplant have started to flower, the ground cherries are growing fruit, and the beans and peas are over two feet tall. We planted the bales around May 1st so it’s great to be ahead on these crops.

Today we will plant an assortment of overgrown starts into Rising’s most recently created raised bed; it’s a hugelkultur bed with bale and log boundaries. The bales will be conditioned and planted into too.


Photos! The garden has gotten giant. My first tomatoes are almost ripe. The marigolds have been good bug control. The jalapeños are looking good. Cucumbers are trying to hide. New bean plants are sprouting. Spiders are also keeping up on pest control. I harvested quite a bit today while my sourdough bread mixes and rises.

Love growing and making awesomeness.


Memorial Day weekend - year three of the SBG:0

Made the annual trip to Fryski’s Country Gardens in Caryville, WI to purchase my plants. Kind of cheated this year and sought out more mature plants. Once again Gary tagged along and convinced me that we needed more tomato plants. Here’s the list of things to grow:

  • 2 pepper plants (Red Knight X3R and Bell Boy)
  • 4 cucumber
  • 4 cantaloupe melons
  • 4 watermelon
  • 2 tomatillo tomatoes
  • 4 La Roma tomatoes
  • Brandiwine tomato
  • Lemon Boy tomato
  • Wisconsin 55 tomato
  • Black Cherry tomato
  • Supersweet 100 tomato
  • Yellow Pear tomato
  • Sunsugar tomato
  • Megabite tomato

The mushrooms came out last night in full force following the planting, as had been the trend of the last two years. Sir Nigel spends his time between the bales and the deck…slowing down but still aware. The raised bed seeds are finally heating up after a very cold start. Looking forward to another successful year!


Observe, Harvest, Eat or Preserve!

It started, my backyard maple has dropped its first crimson token of autumn. So the harvest picks up the pace and the bales continue to shrink. This year’s SBG has proven to be a new learning curve. I removed the lower third of the Brussel sprout leaves and the plants are now producing the mini sprouting heads below the vacant leaves—who knew?

Waiting on the Brandiwine heavyweights and consuming pounds of cherries! Tomato season is the best time of the year:)

This is our first year at doing a straw bale (actually meadow grass) garden this year. We got the bales free from a local farmer (we buy bales for our pet rabbits and guinea pig) and he delivered to us in early June.

This is located in our driveway and we’ll be sure to have at least three rows next year. Everything is doing well except the cabbages (we have cabbage butterfly caterpillars – we pick them off but they are too fast for us).

The bales are an excellent way to do raised beds – requires little soil and some manure – but otherwise the straw keeps the roots moist and the decomposing bales also keep plants warm; excellent for our northern climate. We foresee picking tomatoes and cucumbers into the fall.


Newest project!

I started conditioning a straw bale out on the balcony so that I would have some place to plant the seedlings I’m growing on my new rack in the craft room.

I picked up some seed packets from Home Depot (it’s not saving seeds from what you eat, but I’ll get there eventually!) and set out fifteen cups each of summer squash, eggplants, tomatoes, and peas.

Fingers crossed I get some cute little seedlings out of this!

And now to kick back with tea and do some homework. No rest for the wicked!


Getting an early start!

Changing plans…contacted my straw source and decided on 10 bales this season. I still plan on the tomato jungle, but have also added 2 raised bed boxes in the background. Seasoning will begin next weekend, with Memorial Day weekend as the garden’s official start. Sir Nigel is anxiously awaiting the green. He’s already checked out the straw and is welcoming his backyard’s new adventure.