This March has delivered some of the most unusual weather I have seen. For three weeks in a row, on Monday or Tuesday, we have had some form of frozen precipitation. Yesterday, it became extremely windy and then began to snow… while the sun was shining. It was weird and fun, all at the same time.
I am “chomping at the bit” to get out in the garden and start planting, but all I can do right now is collect seeds and make plans. I mowed grass on Monday. While riding the tractor, I used that time to look over everything and decide the steps for beginning some of my gardening projects for the year.
I also checked out a book from the library about straw bale gardening. (Title: Straw Bale Gardens The Breakthrough Method for Growing Vegetables Anywhere, Earlier and with No Weeding, by Joel Karsten)
After reading through some of the book last night and looking at the pictures, I am seriously considering using my raised beds to hold the straw bales in place and planting into them this year.
My reasons for this choice are:
1. My cat likes to jump over the fence and use the raised beds as litter boxes. I just bought some large containers of black pepper from Sam’s, because after researching, I found the black pepper would not hurt the cat or crops and would be the safest solution to this problem. If I use straw bales, however, I can plant root crops in them without fear of contamination from the cat, since they prefer dirt.
2. As long as you get straw bales and not hay bales, potential for weeds is drastically cut.
3. There is a conditioning process to get the bales ready, but if done right it provides nourishment for your plants for the season with only a few additions.
4. I need to dig out the top layer from each bed and discard this dirt, due to the cat, and then I would need to add back clean, peat moss, garden soil, and fertilizer. Doing this in straw bales might be more economical. I need to research prices to make sure.
5. Because the bales heat up as they compost, you can plant earlier and harvest earlier.
6. I could pick my green beans and other vegetables, without kneeling or bending over.
7. It would be an interesting experiment.
Here are a few pictures from the book to show what it looks like.
The conditioning process takes about two weeks, so that is something I could begin doing now to feel like I am making some headway toward planting.
If you don’t have a garden now, this is one way to start one this year without plowing, and you can make it any size you desire to work with. I highly recommend this book as a resource to help you get started.
“Thou visitest the earth, and waterest it: thou greatly enrichest it with the river of God, which is full of water: thou preparest them corn,when thou hast so provided for it. Thou waterest the ridges thereof abundantly: thou settlest the furrows thereof: thou makest it soft with showers: thou blessest the springing (growth) thereof. Thou crownest the year with thy goodness; and thy paths drop fatness (abundance). They drop upon the pastures of the wilderness: and the little hills rejoice on every side.” Psalm 65:9-12