Our Straw Bale Gardening
This quote reinforces why I first got interested in straw bale gardening.
It is from Dr. Patrick Quillin about his fruit garden. “Welcome to my pharmacy!….If you are going to spend time on it, if you’re going to water it, make it something you eat’’.
I heard him say that on the Truth About Cancer series, while he was showing his very own fruit garden, down in sunny California.
Of course, California has a real water challenge. But his words did make quite an impact on me.
How should one eat organic produce and not pay too much for it? Simply by making an organic vegetable garden!
Which we did. Mike and I.
Picture how it is for us. It’s like we are going to the amusement park with high excitation level. It’s a sunny Saturday morning, with our coffee cups in hand, visiting all the aisles to encourage “our little ones”.
We are really THRILLED by the fact we have such a big vegetable garden, honest.
But also, because we see all this tiny green life, slowly becoming stronger and taller. Realizing that all the care we give them, will be deliciously returned to us in a few weeks or months.
Ok, now, that is the beautiful side.
Then, you get the difficulties that come with experimenting something for the first time…straw bale gardening.
Now remember, the first step was to cover the straw bales with forestry compost and to condition them using a certain type of fertilizer.
Then, the bale would start decomposing in its center with the help of water. The heat created inside the bale was supposed to be pretty high, before stabilizing to something acceptable for planting. But, since we are living in the province of Quebec-Canada, weather variations are sometimes intense and…it suddenly got cold.
Ok, I have no scientific proof but, I am pretty sure that it slowed down the process of decomposition. I think it created a delay in the process of conditioning the bales; a very important step.
Fortunately, I returned to the book that explains all the steps and possible situations that could occur and we rapidly resolved the issue.
To show you the difference, here are some “before and after” pictures of our tomato plants.
Before, the plants had yellow leaves and had a hard time to establish their new roots. On the 2nd picture, you can see that the plants have regained their strength and the leaves are back to a darker green.
Since we have 31 organic tomato plants, now was not the time to screw up!
Straw Bale Gardening – BEFORE
Straw Bale Gardening – AFTER
Hurray! They are much better now! We did loose 2 plants though…
If you want to know more about straw bale gardening, here is more information.
And, for the kick of it, here are additional pictures of the upper section of the garden.
Here is the flat stone path and brick doorstep that Mike took the time to test….just to see if I had done a good job with leveling them!
Straw Bale Gardening and Conventional gardening
Our selection of vegetable varieties is pretty simple: carrots, beets, swiss chard, green and yellow beans, cucumbers, radishes, spinach, bell peppers, Jalapeño peppers, onions and rhubarb.
We also planted a row of leeks that need to be blanched. In other words, they need to be covered or hidden from the sun by planting them in holes and adding soil back on the leek as weeks pass by.
We are trying something new to us, it’s our first plantation of asparagus. We will get a half-harvest next spring and then a complete one the year after. The first year, they look like furry ferns. But once the plants are established, the bed will produce every year for 15 years or more. I love it!
In the end, Mike and I are pretty happy about our creation!
The only problem is that it seems to be spreading a pleasant aroma in the air. Look who came and almost thought this was a all-you-can-eat buffet! Very cute but…no thank you!
To conclude this article, I would love to show you my first absolutely perfect radish. It was crunchy, juicy and perfectly pungent to my taste. I was so proud!
Let me know if you have questions about straw bale gardening! I love to hear from you!