Organic Seeds and Straw Bale Gardening

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Planting plants grown from organic seeds into straw bales is a popular alternative for many home gardeners.
This method is often chosen by gardeners who have poor soil or who experience difficulty getting down on their hands and knees to garden.
The plants are placed in the top of the bale and can be staked or allowed to cascade down the sides.
Both hay bales and straw bales can be used, with each offering its own benefits.
Price and local availability will differ, but even bales from the previous year can be used and may be less expensive.
One caveat, organic seeds should be planted only in pesticide and herbicide free bales to ensure fully organic produce.
While organic seeds can be placed directly into the bales, seedlings are often easier to handle.
For either method, create a small pocket and place rich, moist potting soil into the bale.
Then plant seedlings or place organic seeds in the hole.
Read the following steps to learn how to condition the bales and obtain the best results.
  • Choose either straw or hay bales in the chosen quantity.
    Straw has less seeds as it has been combined and is often preferred for this reason.
    Choices include barley, oats, rye and corn stalks or wheat.
    Hay bales may have more seeds, but offers more nutrition to the plants.
    When using bales for planting, they may already contain adequate nitrogen for growing plants.
  • Prior to planting organic seeds place the bales where they will remain for the following season and begin conditioning them.
    The most common used conditioning method includes soaking them for three days.
    After this, add fish oil, blood meal or other organic fertilizer for up to 5 days.
    Use small quantities and continue watering.
    This creates a heat process which will continue for at least another 2-3 days.
    After the bales have cooled to a point where they are a little less than body temperature, they are ready for planting.
    At this point, either place organic seeds or seedlings into the pockets.
  • Potato peelings, egg shells and other types of kitchen compost can be placed on top of the bales throughout the entire growing season to break down and feed the young plants.
  • Heirloom seeds and organic seeds can be planted either in pockets or if desired placed in potting mixture and compost that are placed on top of the bales.
    Planting on the surface will require more frequent watering until the roots have grown down into the moist areas of the bale.
  • Tomato plants will require support in the form of stakes or they can be allowed to sprawl out on the surface if desired.
    Watch for areas which could rot though if this method is used.
    The bales don't provide enough support for cages in most instances.
  • Depending on which medium is chosen, hay or straw, organic fertilizers may be necessary.
    Keep the bales well moistened throughout the growing season.
Plant a variety of sprawling large-leaf plants that can sprawl down the edges of the bales with taller plants that can be trellised or staked.
Melon s and squash can be planted on the ends of a bale with centerpiece of staked tomatoes to create beautiful cascading tiers.
Flowers can also be combined in the same bales as vegetables for eye-catching appeal.
Organic seed gardening in hay bales or straw bales creates a beautiful garden that can be used as a border around a traditional garden or to replace it entirely.
It works extremely well for people with limited space or those who have difficulty kneeling and getting up again.
A lightweight chair can be used to sit on while weeding and tending to plants.
As the bales break down they improve the underlying soil.
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