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What’s Straw bale Gardening?

Straw bale gardening might simply be seen as a unusual, consideration grabbing rising technique. One which was thought up by gardening writers to provide them one thing completely different to put in writing about. Or TV backyard present presenters a subject to debate as an amusing apart to brighten up the compost making.
However it’s not a rising technique to be thought of as a critical contender alongside raised mattress kitchen gardens and crop rotation.
Or is it?

On this article we’ll purpose to reply the query What’s Straw bale Gardening? By the way it works and the place you would use it. I’ll provide you with a extra sensible The right way to develop greens with straw bales in one other weblog. Retaining them individually makes it simpler so that you can discover what you need – the tactic or some solutions and explanations.


Straw bale Gardening? Or Hay bale Gardening?

Does it make a distinction whether or not you employ hay bales or straw bales? And what’s the distinction between hay and straw anyway?
When you’ve been round horses, a farm or smallholding, you in all probability know this reply. However for individuals who should not positive, it’s an vital distinction if you happen to’re in search of bales to make use of within the backyard.


Hay is dried grass or legume stalks, and has seeds and leaves hooked up to the stems. The entire plant is harvested (excluding the roots) and dried earlier than use. Hay bales might embrace grasses equivalent to Timothy and rye ; plus legumes equivalent to alfalfa and clover.
Though dried, it could retain some moisture and tends to remain inexperienced in color. Excessive in dietary content material, together with nitrogen, hay is used as feed for animals as numerous as horses and guinea pigs.


Straw is the dried stalks of grain crops equivalent to wheat, barley, oats. In different phrases, the bits of the plant left after the grain (seeds) and chaff have been eliminated. It has little dietary worth and is used for animal bedding quite than meals. Straw can also be used for thatching roofs, though reeds make an extended lasting thatch.
Nevertheless, the insulatory properties that make straw good for bedding, imply it’s helpful within the backyard too. For instance –

  • as a winter mulch round newly planted shrubs
  • within the compost bin to enhance the carbon ratio
  • to guard strawberries from mud splashes

straw bales, ignazio-di-gangi-7HEl9GEFv0w-unsplash

What Kind of Straw Bales?

It could be self-evident, however you want what are sometimes referred to as sq. straw bales though they’re rectangular in form. Even the small spherical ones are too huge and heavy for home dealing with. In addition to, sq. or rectangular bales match extra simply and effectively into gardens.

How heavy are the bales?

That is the dry weight, when you begin watering them they get heavier. Straw weighs lower than hay to start with.

Sq. straw bales – small ones, referred to as 2 string, or standard, are rectangular, about 100 x 40 x 30 cm, weighing about 45 lbs / 20 kg. These are one of the best for many gardening conditions. A 3 string bale is about 120 x 50 x 40 cm, and is about double the burden ( additionally depends upon the density of the bale and the kind of straw)

Sq. 4 string and 6 sting are additionally accessible; these are similar to the small spherical for weight.

Spherical straw bales – small ones are about 4 foot / 1.2 m, in diameter and weigh 400-600 lbs / 180–270 kg. Too huge and heavy!

As soon as the bales are conditioned, ie prepared for planting they’ll be heavier. When you’re not in a position to raise the bales you’ll want somebody that can assist you get them into place BEFORE you begin the conditioning.

Is natural gardening vital to you?

When you’re gardening organically, chances are you’ll need to verify that the straw has been grown organically, or no less than with out artificial pesticides. (Not all farms that develop organically could also be licensed natural)

How lengthy will a Straw bale backyard final?

You could have a straw bale backyard for as a few years as you want. What you received’t have is the precise identical bales of straw!

By itself, straw will take a few yr to decompose as a result of it consists of 90% carbon. However you’ll be including water and making holes in it, which can encourage rotting. Which means that for a lot of gardeners, the bale will final one rising season solely. However you would get two and even presumably three years’ use from the bales. It depends upon the straw, the place you place the bales, the crops you develop and the climate.

And naturally, as soon as the bales collapse, otherwise you break them as much as get on the crops, the straw itself can be utilized for different functions across the backyard. Typically its solely in a situation to make use of as mulch or added to the compost bin.

Subsequently you will have to plan to interchange the straw bales each 1 to 2 years. This contains sourcing and buying new ones, setting them up and conditioning them prepared to be used. Plus you’ll must have methods of utilizing or composting the straw from the outdated bales.

Hay decomposes extra shortly of its excessive nitrogen and water content material. It ought to final a yr, however might not. Tough to be exact except you already know what grasses are making up the bales; the finer ones are likely to decompose extra shortly.

young potato plant growing in straw bale, No dig gardening: side view of a young potato sprouts growing in a bed of hay or straw, iStock-1204222992

What’s Straw bale Gardening – a No-Dig Rising Methodology?

The straightforward reply is: Sure.

No-dig rising strategies would come with –

  • Lasagna gardening, aka layer gardening
  • Raised beds – with or with out frames
  • No-dig in floor degree borders

Straw bales successfully provide a sort of raised mattress backyard, nonetheless, like every rising technique there may be some preparation concerned. As soon as they’re in place, the preparation, or conditioning, of the bales takes about 2 weeks.
In truth, you would begin with straw bale and switch it into lasagna on the finish of the rising season – extra on this within the ‘The right way to’ weblog.


Straw bale Gardening – advantages

  • As a result of it’s successfully a short lived backyard, it’s helpful for individuals who are renting a property, or know they are going to be altering the backyard round.
  • Begin-up prices are comparatively low-cost, as bales may be as little as £4 every.
  • The bales may be stood on just about any floor – concrete, grass, soil, decking.
  • It’s one technique for newbie gardeners to strive with out a lot preliminary outlay aside from time spent within the preparation.
  • You possibly can have only one bale, or as many as you want, maybe arrange potager model, so it fits completely different sizes of vegetable backyard.
  • Straw bale gardens work with completely different rising strategies, for instance, sq. foot gardening and crop rotation.
  • When you have a nasty again, gardening with straw bales reduces bending.
  • Bales are about 18” excessive and may be raised, making them extra accessible for wheelchair gardeners.
  • Weeding is lowered.
  • Backyard pests equivalent to rabbits, snails and slugs are much less of an issue.
  • You possibly can develop many varieties of annual crops and flowers in straw bales.
  • They’re a sustainable, recyclable product, which may typically be purchased domestically and utilized in your personal backyard after they collapse.

strawberries growing in hay bale, soft fruit, perennial fruit, hay bale gardening, growing without soil, edible gardens, grow your own fruit, kitchen garden, allotment

Straw bale Gardening – disadvantages

  • As a result of the bales solely final 1 – 2 years, you need to always purchase extra.
  • You have to someplace to eliminate the used bales, whether or not that’s a compost heap, as soil mulch or given to a buddy with a bigger backyard.
  • Even dry, the bales could also be too heavy so that you can transfer round by yourself.
  • You’ll want to have easy accessibility to water, each for making ready the bales and sustaining the crops. If located in a sunny spot, the bales may have day by day watering.
  • An excessive amount of standing water could cause the bales to rot, so contemplate this when deciding the place to put them.
  • Because the bales become older, they decompose, which appears straggly and untidy. It could additionally make them unstable if you happen to’re rising taller crops equivalent to tomatoes.
  • You’ll in all probability nonetheless get weeds – from the soil beneath, from seeds that have been within the bale itself and from airborne seeds.
  • If the straw comes from a discipline that was sprayed in the previous few years with a persistent herbicide, this might leach in to the vegetation that are rising within the bale and probably into the encircling soil.
  • Bales positioned on wooden – decking for instance – will make it damp and will trigger the timber to rot.
  • Backyard pests equivalent to rabbits are more likely to nonetheless be an issue, simply as they’d be in an ‘unusual’ raised mattress.
  • You’ll nonetheless want soil or compost for almost all of the vegetation you’re rising, even when its solely a small quantity. This can be for stability causes, water retention or vitamin.
  • As in any container backyard, the vegetation will probably be dependant on you the gardener to fertilise them.


and at last

Hopefully I’ve answered the query “what’s straw bale gardening?” on this article. There will probably be a extra sensible The right way to develop greens with straw bales weblog. I additionally intend to experiment a bit extra with straw bales myself and with among the Plews Gardening Course college students who’re .

For additional gardening recommendation and inspiration, try Plews Potting Shed blogs, together with the choice beneath and our month-to-month Tipsheet  – You can come and discover us on Instagram  Pinterest and Fb too.


Associated Gardening articles chances are you’ll get pleasure from from our Award Profitable Weblog

Crop Rotation – Rising Strategies for Gardeners
Raised Backyard Beds within the Vegetable Backyard
What’s Sq. Foot Gardening?
The right way to use the Three Sisters Cultivation Methodology
Lasagna Gardening – Rising Strategies for Gardeners
What’s Natural Gardening?

Straw bale gardening. Petunia Flowers growing in a straw bale, round bale, iStock-1289536626



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