Straw Bale Gardening - Ep. 189

Just Grow Something | The "Why" Behind the "How" of Gardening

19-03-2024 • 26 mins

Years ago I had some straw bales I’d used initially as fall décor that ended up in my chicken coop. The bales were used partially as a wind break all winter and partially as a roost. Well, chickens do what chickens do when they roost and by the spring of the following year those straw bales were full of nitrogen-rich chicken poop and starting to fall apart. So, I moved the out of the coop, watered the down really well for about a week, and planted a bunch of plants into them.

This was my first introduction to straw bale gardening and it worked wonderfully! The nitrogen from the chicken manure had kickstarted the decomposition process of the straw, providing essential nutrients for the microbes that do that work, and the decomp of the straw inside the bale created a fertile growing medium. I expanded the gardens quite a bit after that, as you all know, and haven’t worked with straw bales as a growing medium since. But this year, that changes. I’ve got a new spot I’m putting together behind my greenhouse with eight planter boxes already in place, but there’s also a fence at the back of that space I want to both cover and use as a trellis. I don’t want something permanent against that fence so I’m jumping back into straw bale gardening.

Today on Just Grow Something we’ll talk about how to use straw bales as a growing container and medium. I don’t have naturally conditioned bales this year, so we’ll talk about the process I’ll need to go through to get those bales ready. I’ll also cover the benefits of gardening in bales, what to watch out for, what plants do well with this method, and how to maintain them. By the end of the episode I think you’ll be convinced that straw bales are an effective way to increase the growing space in your garden without needing a permanent solution. Let’s dig in!

Question of the month for March: “What is your biggest pest in the garden and how do you manage it (if at all)?”

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