Get it right and you can grow bumper crops on straw bales.Â It is clean, cheap and environmentally friendly.
The principle is that decaying straw generates heat to form a ‘hot bed’encouraging healthy roots.
Preparing a Straw Bale
- Watered bales are heavy so get them in the right place first.
- A polythene membrane will help retain moisture and prevent soil contamination.
- Water bales thoroughly. If it is very dry soak over 2 or 3 days.
- Apply 6 oz of dry blood or other nitrogen rich fertiliser over the top of the bale and water in
- The fermentation will start and the bale heat up. Cover with black plastic to speed up the process.
- After 4 days remove the polythene and the bale should be warmer than the air temperature
- Add another 6 oz of nitrogen based fertiliser.
- Cover for another 4 days then add 12 oz of general fertiliser. The temperature shouldÂ peaking at 50 degrees or so.
- Allow to cool to 38 degrees before planting.
Planting up a Straw Bale
- With a bucketful of compost make and fill a small hole in the bale. It should be easy to make a small hollow.
- Add you plants and water carefully.
- New roots will grow through the compost into the decomposing straw.
- Chillies, Peppers Tomatoes and cucumbers do well in bales. 2 or 3 plants per bale will give you a good crop.
- Tall plants need staking but tumbler tomatoes can be allowed to fall over the bales edge.
Advantages of Straw Bales
- Bales are easy to water and retain moisture longer than a grow bag.
- Drainage is good and ity is hard to over water.
- At the end of the season the bale can be recycled as a mulch or added to a compost heap
- Rotting bales give off carbon dioxide which can be beneficial to crops.
- Ornamental plants as well as vegetables will flourish.
- Bales are generally cheaper than grow bags.
- Straw is better than hay the tends to go mouldy.
- Liquid feeding is required as straw is low in nutrients.