Straw Bale or hay bale compost pile

An easy way to compost and a way that will triple your compost pile is by using a straw bale or hay bale composting pile.

It is easy to set up. You will need at least four bales. Six bales would be better and if you want a complete square you will want eight bales.

Place the bales to form a “U” shape or square with an open center. Fill the center with old leaves, grass clippings, sawdust, and any other yard residue. You can add table scraps; old vegetables, coffee and other kitchen waste as long as the materials do not include grease or meat.

I fill the straw bales up past the top of the bales and water lightly. The pile will settle and I add more clippings, leaves and other composting materials. I also add old fertilizer. If I start a pile in the spring and add to it until fall it’s basically broken down and the pile is large.

Late fall I usually break the bales apart on the side, add a lot of grass clippings, any leftover garden plants and more leaves. Then I top with the bales that I broke apart and add fertilizer on top. Water well, cover with plastic for a week to generate a lot of heat and then uncover the pile.

A compost bale pile that I break down I will let sit until spring and use it in early March on my raised beds and flower garden areas.

If I let the pile set all winter without breaking it apart I will top with another row of bales in early spring. I place bales around the edges, add fertilizer and leaves in the center and let sit for a month. Then I will plant directly in the square pile as if it were a raised bed. This bed makes a great garden for gourds and melons. The soil is rich, well aerated and will hold moisture well. It’s the perfect conditions for plants that like a rich soil and need nutrients for better production and size.

After I use the bale compost garden for a season I will add more clippings, leaves and fertilizer and break the rest of the bales down. After two years, the compost pile is enormous and well rotted.

I have used baled composting for years. I usually have several piles going on the property at all times. This gives me my compost and soil for garden beds, container gardening and for starting perennials and shrubs in.

Bales can usually be found at the end of a season for a reduced price. Especially if they were rained on and not considered suitable for farm animals.

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