The Straw Bale terraced hillside garden.

It’s that time of year again, for garden planning. I have a tablet nearby and graph paper available for any garden thoughts and plans.

One problem area in my yard and gardens is the fact I have very little flat land. Living in the foothills of the Appalachia Mountains flat land is scarce – particularly on my property.

This year I have decided to terrace a lot of the yard. It will be easier, cut back on mowing and create interest in the yard.

The problem is terracing can take time and money depending on how you go about it.

So this year most of my terraced gardens will be what I call the overnight straw bale terrace garden. Fast, cheap and this idea will prepare the slope for next year but be practical this year.

Overnight Straw bale Terrace Garden

  1. Start early by picking your hill or slope to terrace.
  2. Select the site and figure out how many straw bales you need. I suggest straw for this project so that when the bales break down you will be able to create good compost without a ton of seeds.
  3. Place the bales in the desired spot. You will have to level the bales. I use soil placed under the bale to make them level. Fill behind the bale with soil or compost even with the bale.

You can set the straw bale on end so that you plant in the stubble part of the bale or lay it flat and cut an area for any plants. (The choice depends on the area you will have to fill behind the bale and the area you want to plant in.) A flat bale has a little more planting space and less soil that needs to be added behind the bale. A bale on its side has less planting space on the bale and more soil will need to be added behind the bale.

Tip: I use materials that I can compost in later behind the bales with a little soil mixed in and top the mix with about 5 inches of soil.

As with any straw bale gardening you need to age the bale first. You can do that by setting the bales out over winter or very early in the spring and watering well. You can also add nitrogen to the bale.

The reason for adding nitrogen to the bale is as the bale breaks down it uses nitrogen and the plants will be missing this nutrient unless you add it or compost heavily.  I set my bales out early and add a compost tea before planting.

You also need to add soil to the top of the bale to plant seeds and plants in. I add 4 to 5 inches of soil. Water to firm the soil in place and ignore for a day or so.

The straw bale terraced garden will have a unique look. It will give you a fast terraced hillside with plenty of color or vegetables at a reasonable price. And depending on how often you fertilize the bales they will last for one or two years.

While your gardens are producing and adding beauty to you yard you can find stone, cement block, wood or whatever material you plan to use for the terrace walls.

When you ready to terrace the area all you need to do build your walls and break down the bales. Add more compost or topsoil and you will have a rich area to plant in.

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Denise

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