Strawbale Gardening - no weeding, no hoeing, no tilling

Discussion in 'Discussion Group' started by Strawbaleman, Apr 18, 2007.

  1. Strawbaleman

    Strawbaleman Well-Known Member

    This will be my 7th year Straw Bale Gardening and I've enclosed a link to my most recent article that describes how to get started.

    As you can see, I originally started this thread back in 2007. I've updated this 1st page as time goes by.

    Straw Bale Garden Basic Instructions:

    5/18/09 - WRAL-TV story about my bale garden:

    Face Book fans page:

    Now is the perfect time to purchase those bales and get your garden going.

    Strawbale gardening is great for:

    1. Those whose health and physical limitations prevent them from doing traditional "dirt" gardening. My daddy has had several strokes and this is the only way he can garden. I can't tell you how many calls and letters I've received from folks who had given up gardening until they read about this method.

    2. Those with limited space in their yard.

    3. Those with bad soils.

    Here's some additional answers to the most common questions I get:

    1. If you have a hard time locating some ammonium nitrate, Southern States carries it. It comes in 40-50 lb bags, so go in together with a friend. It only takes 2.25 cups/bale to help prep the bales and a bag holds about 80+ cups. Check with any agri-supply place, too. If you can't find any ammonium nitrate, then you can use BLOOD MEAL that is readily available at Home Depot, Lowes, etc. Use about 1 cup/bale every other day on days 4, 6, and 8.

    NOTE: If you put your bales out at least 3 - 4 weeks before it's time to plant, you can eliminate the need to add any type of nitrogen-rich ingredient to the bales. Actually, the earlier you get your bales out and start watering them down, the better. They'll soften up more and be better to work with.

    I haven't used any nitrogen in my pre-prep process in the last 3 years.

    Only if you want to plant within 2 weeks after getting your bales do I recommend adding anything to the bales to get them prepared. It won't hurt if you do, just probably an unnecessary step.

    2. Wheat straw, oat straw, rye straw, and hay will work. PINE STRAW won't work. Ask the seller if they have any straw that is moldy or old. This is can usually be bought at a discount. Ask any landscaper where they got their straw. Locally, Home Depot had bales for around $4.50 at one time. I purchased 65 oat straw bales from a local farmer for $3/bale. Most places that sell mulch usually carries some wheat straw.

    3. Your bales will soon sprout which is no problem. When the wheat/oat/rye sprouts get tall enough to grab, just cut them off with a knife. I call it giving my bales a "haircut". Mushrooms will also pop out which is OK. Just knock the caps off if you don't like them.

    4. This year I'm putting my bales with the string sides down and I'm using bales with regular twine, not the plastic. Putting your bales either way works fine and I'm finding that with the strings on the ground, the water doesn't run through the bales nearly as fast, and I like that.

    5. One of the biggest differences in bale gardening is the watering. As the bales decompose over time, the straw holds more moisture for a longer period. Just don't let your bales dry out.

    6. Great gardening site where we have a Strawbale Garden forum:

    There's a small fee to access this particular forum, but the price is well worth it.

    Have a great and blessed day.

    Kent Rogers
    Wake Forest, NC

    NOTE: I changed my screen name to "Kent" beginning on Post #93, 8/30/2007.
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2013
    Auxie likes this.
  2. Strawbaleman

    Strawbaleman Well-Known Member

    Whenever I can get authorization from the Administrator I'll post some pics of my garden. They will add alot in addition to the small photos from the article.

  3. KDsGrandma

    KDsGrandma Well-Known Member

    You can get an account with photobucket and post pictures that way. I have heard of this gardening method, but have never seen it in practice.

  4. ready2cmyKing

    ready2cmyKing Well-Known Member

    Never heard of strawbale gardening before... thanks for the info!! :-D
  5. Strawbaleman

    Strawbaleman Well-Known Member

    Thanks, KDsGrandma, but I'd rather just post straight to the thread like I do at, which is IMHO the best gardening website around. According to the posting rules at the bottom of my page it says I can't post images/attachments until I get permission. I sent a request in and I'm waiting for that to go through.


    P.S. - dated 4/23/07 - I subsequently found out that Photobucket is a breeze to use. I love it! Thanks KDsGrandma for initially suggesting it and for the others in the PC Help forum that fine-tuned my questions for me.

    Last edited: Apr 23, 2007
  6. Strawbaleman

    Strawbaleman Well-Known Member


    My bale garden set up for this year; about 65 bales.

    3 rows on the left are for tomatoes. A trellis is alot better than staking.

    2 double rows for cukes, yellow squash, and zucchini

    The brown single row is my potato row. I'm using some old straw from my double row of cukes last year. The potatoes are coming up nicely.

    Last edited: Apr 19, 2007
  7. ready2cmyKing

    ready2cmyKing Well-Known Member

    I can't wait to try this! I'll have less than half your number of bales though. ;) Thanks for all the info!
  8. Strawbaleman

    Strawbaleman Well-Known Member



    I recommend a 4x4 post, 10 ft long. Put the post 2 ft in the ground. I used concrete reinforcing wire for my trellis. It's 5 ft wide and has 6 inch squares so you can pull through from either side. Dog wire, hog wire, etc will also work.

    You'll notice that left pole leaning some. I only had it about 18 inches in the ground. My property is in a low ground area that holds alot of water.

    I recommend no more than 4 bales between spans.
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2007
  9. CrzyForBaseball

    CrzyForBaseball Well-Known Member

    We are doing a small version of this this year in addition to our regular garden. (Still need the big garden for our corn) Thanks for the links... good additional info to add what i had already found.
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2007
  10. Strawbaleman

    Strawbaleman Well-Known Member


    Cukes and squash in a double row. The double row gives you a nice little table top for the cukes to run on and then they'll drape over the sides.

    I put newspaper around the bales for the cukes to run on to prevent grass from growing up in the vines. I hate a messy looking garden.

    You can use landscaping cloth if you prefer.

    Put about 3 sets of cukes/bale.

    Put 2 sets of squash/bale.
  11. Strawbaleman

    Strawbaleman Well-Known Member



    Be prepared to stake peppers, or anything that doesn't run naturally.

    The bales get softer as the summer goes by and the wind and rain will cause your plants to lean and possibly break.

    Put 3 peppers/bale.
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2007
  12. Strawbaleman

    Strawbaleman Well-Known Member



    I put these in the fall after the cukes and squash bit the dust.

    2 collard sets/bale.

    Still got them in the freezer.
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2007
  13. Strawbaleman

    Strawbaleman Well-Known Member



    Man, did these babies take off. I'm 6 ft tall.

    They produced a ton of okra.

    I had 4 sets in this bale, which is probably a little crowded.

    Notice that you definitely have to stake these.
  14. Strawbaleman

    Strawbaleman Well-Known Member


    My Daddy's (Fred Rogers) bale garden from Willow Spring, NC, right down the road from you folks at 4042.

    Daddy has had several major strokes and has very limited use of his right hand/side.

    He did his garden by himself, including planting.

    He lets his tomatoes run on the ground.

    But bale gardening is a great way for those with physical limitations to continue growing vegetables or flowers.
  15. Strawbaleman

    Strawbaleman Well-Known Member


    I recommend using these green stretch ties that you can readily purchase at most any garden center when you tie up your plants, especially for tomatoes.

    They come in nice, flat rolls, and are alot better than using panty hose, old sheets, string, etc.
  16. ready2cmyKing

    ready2cmyKing Well-Known Member

    I have a roll of that already. I used it to stake a shrub a few years ago. It is some strong stuff because it is still there even though the shrub has gotten so big you can't see the stake unless you're looking for it. I'm pretty sure I got my roll from Lowe's.
  17. Strawbaleman

    Strawbaleman Well-Known Member

    Ken, 10-4 on the hydroponic garden analogy. You grow plants in just about anything if you get the watering & feeding components down.

    The bales are basically an organic raised bed that eliminates the need for plowing/tilling, weeding, etc.

    The bales give a nice platform off the ground that almost totally eliminates soil borne diseases. Rabbits and terrapins don't bother the plants/veggies, either.

  18. Strawbaleman

    Strawbaleman Well-Known Member


    Here's an example of the bales sprouting.

    This is no problem. I'll grab a handful and take a steak knife and just cut it off. Takes no time at all. Some bales sprout more than others, some hardly at all.

    These are old bales. I do not let them sprout this much before I give them a "haircut".

    You'll also see mushrooms jump out of the bales. No problem there, either.
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2007
  19. Strawbaleman

    Strawbaleman Well-Known Member


    Here's a good example of my 1st time bale garden.

    Notice the cukes running off the end and the grass growing up in the vines. Not good.

    The tomatoes were all staked individually with tobacco sticks. The tomatoes all grew over the stakes and broke.

    Believe me. Use a trellis of some sort for tomatoes.

    Also, notice in this photo I have the bales oriented with the strings OFF the ground.

    This year I'm putting the strings on the ground, and I think I like it better that way.

    It's your choice, but with the strings OFF the ground, the water seems to run through the straw alot faster due to the way the straw is baled.
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2007
  20. Strawbaleman

    Strawbaleman Well-Known Member


    I had a little fun last year and made an arch trellis for some tomatoes using the same concrete wire I used for the in-line trellis.

    I walked through and picked the tomatoes like grapes.

    Tomatoes are heavy, as you know.

    The day before this shot, we had a huge thunderstorm and the weight of the rain and tomatoes collapsed my trellis. It was all I could do to lift each end up and prop it back up.

    These boards are overkill, but it was the only thing I had handy.

Share This Page