Help Growing on Straw Bales

Help Growing on Straw Bales

Get it right and you can grow bumper crops on straw bales.  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 should  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.
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