Hay Bale Gardening Let’s Take This Deeper

Inside this post you will find content that takes Bale Gardening to a whole new level. Would you like to become a master gardener? This will get you on your way!

Hay Bale Gardening is what I believe to be one of the easiest of cheapest ways to start a vegetable and herb garden.

The cost to get started is very low.

Cost breakdown, average cost out of a bag or container.

  • Bale $5 to $8
  • fertilizer $0.50
  • compost $2.50
  • container mix $2.00
  • liquid fertilizer $.0.20

Growing space
3ft * 1.5ft (1m – 0.5ft) plus vertical space.

Pros

  • Cheap start up,
  • Turns into recyclable compost in a season,
  • Larger growing space than a garden bed, due to vertical area,
  • Attracts worms,
  • builds up fungi and good bacteria,
  • increased microbial activity.

Cons

  • Messy in the car,,make sure you cover well,
  • Mice like to nest in it if it’s undercover. Keep the bales exposed and moist in the initial stages to avoid issues.
  • Grass likes to grow around it and up the sides. Place cardboard underneath to avoid this issue, or create a barrier.
  • Hard to move once it’s wet, as it becomes extremely heavy. Position well and if you need to move, do it before you start adding compost layers.

Getting Started & What is Needed?

Depending on the size of the family and how much fresh food you consume.

One bale per family member will provide quite a lot of food over time. However, in a small space situation you would start one bale a fortnight, so you get maximum return for your effort and space.

Required

  • Straw Bales
  • Fertilizer of your choice
  • Compost
  • Potting mix
  • Seeds & seedlings – seedling are option only, as it’s very easy to germinate on top of the Bales

Steps

Step 1. Condition the bale for as long as possible before planting to help start some of the breakdown process. Preferably 2 weeks to a month.

Succession planting – Plant your first bale in two weeks. Second bale 2 weeks later, Third Bale 2 weeks later again. Remembering that they have all been purchased at the same time and exposed to the elements.

Step 2: Sprinkle in the fertilizer of your choice and push down deep into the bale. This speeds up the breakdown and curing process.

Step 3: Place on 1.5 to 2 inches of quality compost. ( 30mm deep)

Step 4: Place on a layer of Potting mix 1.5 to 2 inches ( 30mm deep)

Step 5: Water the compost and potting mix for 2 days and keep moist.

Step 6: Sprinkle in Legume seeds such as Peas. These will then fix nitrogen into the Bales with their nodes. Once the Peas have finished fruiting do not pull the roots from the bale, but leave them in to rot. This way the more mature plants with larger root systems will be able to feed of the nodes as they break down.

Step 7: Sprinkle seeds on that have shallow roots such as Lettuce and slow growing herbs.

Step 8: Add some stakes for the Peas to climb and place them strategically for other plants such as Tomatoes. I like to place one at each end of the Bale. For larger Stake you can also run twine to each Bale and allow creepers to climb,,or tie up the Tomatoes.

Step 9: One month after planting the weather should be starting to warm up. Lettuce seeds will be starting to bolt, and the Peas will be finished also. Plant larger rooting plants of your choice.

Step 10: As you see the compost disappearing into Bale add more layers and fertilizer

Varieties that perform well in Bales.

Larger growing plants such as corn are not really suitable unless you grow small dwarf species.

My all time favourite plant to grow is the Yellow Button Squash. The Squash family vines across the bales. The large leaves protect the top of the compost with shade allowing an understory of small herbs to grow in the hotter weather.

TIP: You can also use a mulch on top of the Bales to protect the potting mix and compost from drying out. I have found using Rice husks or composted wood chips perfect for this once the plants are established.

If you can access Rice husks it can be burned and turned into a fertilizer as well.

Bale Growing Tomato Tips

Grow indeterminate varieties first. These are the more shorter stockier plants that set fruit in a quicker space of time and are usually grown in containers. The root systems are not as large and are perfect for when the bale is at a younger stage.

Determinate Tomatoes: These grow long, tall and more like a vine. They can produce right through the whole grow season.

They do require staking and have a much larger root system. Plant mature seedlings once you see small fruits from the indeterminate varieties starting to appear.

The Bales will be well and truly on their way in the curing process and the roots from these varieties will be able to dig down deep into Bale. This will allow the larger Tomato plants to perform and fruit right through the year.

FACT: The name Strawberry is the English name, because Strawberries grow extremely well in bales. The rough texture stops them from being attacked by slugs and snails. These slimy creatures do not like rough texture, so they avoid the Straw, therefore keeping the fruits protected.

This is how the name Strawberry came to be

MORE CONTENT ON THE WAY IN PART 2

As my bales progress through the spring season I will be documenting all the growth here inside the MartysGarden Patreon members area. Over this coming season you will be on your way to becoming a master gardener.

Stay tuned as there is more educational content on the way!

Happy gardening
Marty Ware

Extra Veggie Container Gardening Tips & Advice

Each video released will have even more content to go with it inside this blog post.  So, you can get your container garden cranking!

You have watched the video above.  Now, let’s take this one step further and get your container garden really pumping.

Firstly if you’re new to container gardening, you may want to return to this post often.

Each post will be created around the videos to help you get even more knowledge and productivity at home in your small space.

The Getting Started List Updated for Patrons!
Container Mixes
1:   I highly recommend that you avoid the cheap container mixes, because they are mostly just wood chips and sawdust.

These cheap mixes drain really badly and lack the nutrients for plants to stay healthy and productive.
Basically, you will probably give up and wondering what your doing wrong.  When the truth is, it’s not really your fault.

Micronutrients, Minerals & Rock Dust.

Minerals added to the premium mixes helps build up the vitality of the plant, by strengthening the cell wall.

Healthy cell walls of the plant allow for optimum sap flow and also provides more resistance to fight off disease and pests.

Premium mixes also have a balanced ph and this allows the plants to take up the nutrients efficiently.  If the ph is out of balance then the nutrients become locked up in the soil and become less available for the plant.

Best Containers For Gardens
When gardening there are a few major factors to consider and one of them is airflow.

That is why garden pouches work so well, they allow maximum airflow to the root system.

If you can find grow bags with handles and are well made, I highly recommend them.

Avoid the cheap reproductions, as they are generally flimsy and tear easily.  You want a garden grow bag to stand nice and tall and not fall over easily.

Recycled Garden Containers –  I love to do this as it’s such a cheap way to grow food.  However, because these containers haven’t been designed to grow plants they need to be modified to get the best results.

  1. Make sure there is enough drainage holes in the bottom for water to flow out of.
  2. Add a few holes to the side to allow oxygen to flow to the rootzone, just and handful of pin holes is enough.  This way the roots will get airflow and the soil won’t fall through.
  3. The recycled container will also need a nice flat bottom so it does not fall over easily.
  4. Consider covering your container with packaging tape if it’s clear plastic.  This will stop the container from algae growth and keep light away from the plant rootzone.

FERTILIZER TIPS

I like to use a fertilizer that contains all the elements explained up above in the video.  When purchasing a complete fertilizer you save money, as you don’t have to go out and buy a mixture of everything.   Doing that will rip into your bank account big time.

If you use a premium potting mix you won’t need to add any fertilizer at all until the plants have been in the container for about 3 months.  After about 3 months a lot of the fertilizer in the container has been used up.

Just follow the instructions on the packet to get the best results when topping up.

Microgreens trays

The tray above is my all time favourite for growing microgreens and the reason being? These trays and designed to raise seedlings.

Guess what?  Microgreens are seedlings, so it makes sense right?

A Lot of times I have picked up these trays for free at nurseries, or paid around two dollars for one.

One tray can last for years.  You can grow your microgreens in the premium potting mix as well.

TIP FOR MICROGREENS MIX:  Buy a small block of Coco Peat and mix it 50-50 with your potting mix to save money.

All seedlings have their very own food storage contained in the seed, so it only needs to search for food once the root appears.  So, it’s a waste of money to use all your premium mix for growing microgreens.

Once you harvest your microgreens you can recycle the mix and use it again.  I like to throw mine into my worm farm, and use it again,,over and over.  The worms turn it all into lovely castings!

I will have more content about microgreens coming up in time,,as I love them.  Why?   Because you can produce some of the tastiest, nutrient dense food on the planet and it has so many uses.

That’s it for my very first blog post in here for my Patrons.  Thanks you so much for supporting me and my daughter here in Patreon.

Each video created will have this extended tutorial added just for you,,the Patron community for MartysGarden!

Extremely Grateful
Marty Ware