Hay Bale Square Garden Technique
In my garden adventures with hay bale ad straw bale gardening I have tried several different gardening techniques. While I like growing melons and gourds in the bales both are heavy feeder so I created a hay bale/ straw bale square garden technique to use with these crops.
photo credit: JBColorado
Use four bales, hay or straw. Each bale type has its strong points. Lay the bales out to form a square with an open section on the inside. In the inside you will want to make and place a trellis or stakes to hold up melons or gourds. Growing these crops vertically will take a lot less space. There will be a lot of weight on this trellis so it has to be well made. My trellis is 10 foot tall, made of metal and welded together.
Once the trellis or stakes are in place fill in the square with fertilizer. Top with straw or grass clipping and water well. This is your onsite fertilizer pit for these heavy feeding plants. I have found that by using this method my crops grow twice as fast and larger than ever before. And with melons I put two plastic milk jugs into the pit, upside down with the bottoms cut off and the cap off. This is my watering funnel to make sure they get enough water.
photo credit: gui.tavares
Now it’s time to prepare the bales for planting. This link will give you the bale preparation method.
Plant three plants in each bale. I plant them near the back and plant flower in the front for color and to add interest to the garden.
The only point I must stress is to make sure you have the trellis or your vertical stakes very secure! It makes a mess when they fall, and yes, this is experience talking.
You can let the melons or gourds lie on the ground and make a unique looking garden but it takes more space and insects will be harder to control. If you decide to let the produce sprawl on the ground, mulch the ground to keep the weeds down, add a few flowers and some garden art and it will make an interesting garden.
Hay bale gardening or Straw bale gardening has many positive aspects. Its worth giving it a try, particularly if you have poor soil or trouble getting a garden tilled.