Thursday, May 20, 2010

Hay Bale Gardening




I promised last week, and again day before yesterday, that I would post about my venture into Hay Bale Gardening. The method is simplicity itself.
1 - Purchase/acquire the number of hay bales you think you will use; Gardening Daughter brought me four.
2 - Align or space bales as desired; mine are in a "U" configuration (photo above.)


3- Bore holes into the bales to the depth of about half way into the bale and remove hay.
4 - Scoop out a bit more hay around the sides of the bottom of the hole.
5 - Add potting soil,  packing a bit into the extra space created at the bottom.  (photo above)






6 - Plant desired plants. 

Already in place in my bales are several cucumber plants (photo above), three varieties of peppers (Tam Jalapeno, Sweet Banana, and Italian Roasting - the taller plants in the first photo), and two tomato plants.  There are several holes ready for planting. At least one, perhaps two, of them will receive Italian Flat Bean seeds. These are the "bush" variety, and should need no support.  "Kentucky Wonder" pole beans will be planted along the fence. I've told my neighbor, the one who has been bringing me all the delicious meals (see previous post,) that she could pick whatever showed up on her side of the fence.  Last year, we had the same arrangement when the tomatoes she planted on her side of the fence sent out shoots to my side -- which eventually bore at least a half dozen fine tomatoes.   Yum!

In addition to the plants in the bales, Gardening Daughter planted some potatoes inside the "U."  The seed potatoes were laid on bare dirt, then covered with about 6" of hay. The idea, as I understand it, is that as the potatoes sprout and leaves begin to emerge from the hay, one just keeps adding hay to the top (not covering the leaves, of course) and the new potatoes grow into the hay. No dirt on the potatoes when you harvest them.  We'll see how this works out! I have to laugh a bit; Gardening Daughter is doing her best to turn me into a farmer!


I'll keep you posted as the crops "come in."


More, later.

13 comments:

TSannie said...

Can't wait to see how your garden does! If this is a roaring success, I just might plant my entire plot in hay bales next year! That cucumber sure looks healthy!

Arkansas Patti said...

I am so glad you are doing this. I have been curious about this form of gardening for years. I always wondered what would happen when the bales got wet and started to mold.Would it help or hinder the plants?
I will be following your progress with great interest.

rhymeswithplague said...

Three points:

First, upon reading the phrase "Hay Bale Gardening" in your earlier post, I fully expected to see a photograph of you riding a tractor with a mower attached. I thought you were involved in the production of hay bales! Silly me!

Second, this is my first encounter with hay bale gardening. I have never heard of it before. Is it an Arkansas thing, do you think?

Third, when I used the phrase "their high-yield vegetable gardens" in my 47th-anniversary post, I did not know that this intriguing post of yours existed. I was not referring to your green-thumbed self! Besides, you post about flowers far more than vegetables (and this is a good thing)....

Keep up the good work, hay-related and otherwise.

Suldog said...

Interesting. Once you do the harvest of the vegetables, do you leave the hay bales in place? Do more plants grow the next year, at least in some cases? Or is it always a fresh start the next time?

(I'm an ignorant city boy. Forgive my questions.)

Snap said...

I'll be watching your experiment into Hay Bale Gardening. Hay Bales may become very, very popular! :D

jinksy said...

Goodness me- this sounds like magic! I wish I had enough room outside to have a dabble. The thought of dirt free anything pleases me mightily, as I can't abide muddy fingers...

Pat - Arkansas said...

rhymeswithplague Fear not, friend, my hay bale efforts will never be a "high yield garden." No offense intended; none taken.

My yields, hopefully, will be enough to provide me with a salad or two, perhaps a pot of green beans.

Carolina said...

That is such a novel idea. I've never heard of it. But I'm very interested to see if it works. Especially curious about the potatoe-experiment. Exciting times!

Betsy from Tennessee said...

This is so neat, Pat. I had never heard of doing gardening this way until this year. Now I have TWO blog friends who are doing it. I just think that is special... Keep us posted. Looks like it is going to work for you.
Hugs,
Betsy

Abby said...

Interesting! Will you need to fertilize? Or will the bales decompose fast enough to feed the plants? I am growing potatoes in a similar manner. We shall have to compare notes later in the season. One picky question, though: Are those hay bales or straw bales? I'm using straw.

NitWit1 said...

Hmmm My husband might have tried this instead of watering troughs. However, since he may use toxic chemical to an animal, namely Luckie, the watering troughs are most likely better.

Anna said...

I'm so interested in the progress of this garden, Pat. Be sure to update us regularly!

JC said...

Great idea. I'm looking forward to seeing how your garden grows.