Straw Bale Gardening Simplified

Jun 23, 2016 | Local Producers

We recently took our 1+ acre garden and laid it out using old round bales rolled out into rows. We put soil on top and planted seeds and starts when the weather became warmer. We also planted tomato starts, brassicas and lettuces.

Our soil is clay with nitrogen and potassium deficiencies, so this method helped tremendously. Our beginning garden (30′ x 30′) was amended with cow manure, which turned out to be a big mistake. We are still trying to get rid of the weeds! Last year, we mulched the 4′ x 6′ beds with decomposing wood chips. The result was beautiful okra, huge sweet potatoes, and a good crop of lettuce and kale. We watered and fertilized the tomatoes with milk jug oglas filled with homemade diluted grass fertilizer. This produced tomatoes that were big and juicy.

To make the ogla, take a clean milk jug and poke 4 to 5 pin holes in the bottom. After you poke holes in the jug, bury it in the ground beside the plants that need to be watered. In our case, we planted the ogla in the middle of 4 tomato plants. I can’t remember where the idea came from, but it works great. Whenever the jug is empty, you simply fill it at the neck of the milk jug. With this system, there is no wasted water from a sprinkler, and no need to set up an additional soaker system. The amount of water needed depends on the dryness of the ground. The water releases as it is needed.

We also have chicks now, and are their bedding to fertilize the garden. Some of it has already been deposited with the straw rows. Gardening is hard to set up, but we absolutely love when plants start to grow. We are hoping these straw row layers will squelch the weeds like straw bales and grass clippings do. There will be pictures and an update next time we post.

We plan to use this, along with the chicken’s eggs and meat, as a market garden. We have about 100 dual purpose Buckeyes, 15 Guineas and 45 mixed breed that look as if they have Buff Orphington in them. We’ll separate by breeds, as well as by male and female, once they get bigger.