Log in Subscribe
Garden Guru

Straw Bale Gardening

Jim Boxberger
Posted 4/15/22

With the nice weather this week, we have totally transformed our garden center from winter storage mode to spring sales mode. I even had a chance to finally get our straw bale garden together.

I …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in
Garden Guru

Straw Bale Gardening


With the nice weather this week, we have totally transformed our garden center from winter storage mode to spring sales mode. I even had a chance to finally get our straw bale garden together.

I wrote about straw bale gardening last year and stated that I was going to get one put together, but it got so busy so early in the season that I never had a chance to get one together. So this year I got one started.

Cold crops for now like cabbage and broccoli, but later on I will add tomatoes and cucumbers. Any kind of raised bed makes for an easy, convenient garden, but straw bale gardening is very inexpensive also.

Conditioned with a small amount of potting soil, compost, and fertilizer, the straw itself breaks down gradually, providing its own nutrients over the course of the growing season. Straw bale gardening is a great way to grow herbs and vegetables, and can also be used to grow ornamental plants.

It’s economical, easier on your back, and is great for people with mobility issues. Straw bale gardening has been around for a couple of decades but has found new life due to the many vidoes about the subject on Youtube. So even if you don’t have a large patch of ground in the backyard set aside for a garden, a garden can still be within reach.

Make sure you use straw not hay for your bale garden. Hay is made from alfalfa, timothy and grasses that still have the seeds attached, and these seeds will turn into weeds when they germinate and sprout. Straw, on the other hand, is comprised of the leftover stalks of grains such as oats and wheat, after the seeds have been removed through harvesting.

Hence, straw is virtually weed-free, which makes for an easy care garden. Since you can put a straw bale garden almost anywhere, locate the garden near a water source. Any garden takes a fair amount of water, and it’s helpful to be right near a hose.

You can solarize the bales by wrapping them in black plastic so that the bales will heat up more during the day and gradually give back that heat at night so that your plants are less likely to be affected by a frost.

By adding stacks at the ends of your bale row and stretching a cord between them you can make a small greenhouse by draping clear plastic over the cord. This will also protect plants from frost, allowing you to garden earlier in the season. And with the price of food going up all the time, having a garden now has never been more economical.

Another important factor when planning a straw bale garden is only use straw bales that have been baled using poly twine. Bales that are tied with natural twine run the risk of the twine rotting before your growing cycle is over for the season, which is not an issue for the poly twine bales.

There are a lot of variations that you can make with a straw bale garden like adding trellises for peas and beans. Adding stakes for tomatoes or making a cutting garden for flowers. The possibilities are endless. One of my employees was intrigued as I was setting up the garden wondering if she could put one on her deck, but figured it would make too much of a mess and worried about it rotting the decking with all the moisture.

Bale gardens can be done on a deck. Just put down black plastic first; this will provide a protective barrier between the decking and the wet straw bales. Patios are fine too, and you can use the same black plastic trick there if you are worried about staining on the patio. If you have questions about the bale garden, just come in and ask.

Our garden is up and running now, so you can see first hand how this could be a very economical way for you to get gardening this year.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here