I tend to have too many gardening styles. But a straw bale garden is usually in one of my garden plans.
This year I have plans for two mini straw bale gardens. One will be for melons or gourds. I like to make a Square bale garden form and fill the center with compost. Melons or gourds will produce much better with abundant fertilizer so the straw bales are laid out in a square with the center hollow so that it can be filled with compost or fertilizer. I also make sure I add the water to this section of the garden.
And to make sure my plants have warm roots (gourds love a warmer climate than I have I wrap black plastic around the outside of the bales to keep them warmer. This will make the bales break down faster so this garden shape may only last one year. (Often straw bale gardens will work for two years.)
The melons or gourds are planted in the straw bales after they have been treated, fertilized and have aged for 10 to 14 days. Make sure you add compost or fresh garden soil to the top of the bale fro added nutrients. I like to add 3 to 4 inches of soil. The soil also helps hold moisture in the bale.
My other garden will be for flowers and will be set up like a fence or border. I haven’t decided on what flowers I will plant but I think I will place sunflowers behind the bales and have a couple of bushel basket container gardens just for fun and décor placed near the straw bale garden.
As with all my gardens over the years, I do plan them but they also seem to change and grow different directions than I had anticipated. Sometimes that’s due to climate or the plants I have and sometimes I just think of a new idea and want to try it out.
Four reasons I think straw bale gardens are popular are:
1. They don’t have to dig the soil, a plus for those who have no tiller or plow.
2. They can be set up rather fast
3. You can grow a garden in an area that would other wise be unusable.
4. Once you learn how to treat and prepare a bale the garden is easy to get ready for a new season.
One other great use for a straw bale garden is it looks great as garden décor if your growing pumpkins and going for a fall garden theme. When my brother grew pumpkins and had them for sale a garden style like this would have been a fantastic theme.
Note: some people use hay bales and create the hay bale garden. Hay bales are cheaper but do tend to bring weeds into the garden area and yards. But if the bales heat up enough the seeds can be cooked. I have used both straw and hay and each has its own pluses and minuses.