Straw Bale Farming A Principle And Tips Guide


Do you live in the city? Is your garden soil not of good quality? Straw bale growing allows you to grow a vegetable garden whatever your situation.


The Principle Of Straw Bale Cultivation

Straw bale cultivation is a technique derived from permaculture. It consists of using straw bales to produce, above ground, vegetable plants. But how is this possible?


It goes without saying that nothing will grow on straw in its raw state. To turn the boots into a sterile, airy, draining growing medium, you need to prepare them.


Step 1 : Place the straw bales in the desired location, sunny if possible, with the strands oriented vertically to facilitate water penetration. Think carefully about its location because once established, the straw vegetable garden cannot be moved.


Step 2: Start the straw decomposition process. To do this, water the straw thoroughly so that it is wet, up to the heart of the bales.


Step 3: After three days of watering (the straw should always remain moist, but not excessively so), supplement the water supply with a supply of nitrogenous organic fertilizer (a good nettle manure or diluted urine will do) to stimulate bacterial activity and fungi and raise the temperature (up to 60°C). On the tenth and last day of watering, bring only water.


At the end of this process, the straw bales are ready for cultivation: the temperature has dropped to around 20°C and the decomposition of the straw (i.e. sa transformation en compost) is sufficiently advanced to start releasing nutrients available to the crops.


How To Plant In Straw Bale?

Tips For Sowing And Planting

Although the straw has begun to turn into compost, it cannot yet immediately receive the seedlings to be transplanted. Adding potting soil or garden soil is essential: using a trowel, dig a hole in the straw, add potting soil (or potting soil) and settle your plant as you would in the ground.


Do the same for sowing: on the surface of the boot, place a layer of ‘special sowing’ soil or a fine mixture of soil and mature compost, 5cm thick, then sow your seeds.


Straw Is Not Hay!

Straw farming is done only with straw. Hay bales are less dense, break down faster and contain unwanted grass and weed seeds ready to germinate.


Crop Monitoring And Bale Maintenance

Watering: Once the plantings are done, the work is not over. Indeed, for straw bales to continue their decomposition process, it is necessary to keep them moist (without saturating them with water, otherwise the straw will mold). Therefore, watering will be very frequent (even daily during the summer). Having a water point nearby is almost mandatory and the use of an automatic watering system (such as microporous pipes or with olas) is welcome.


Fertilization: the minerals and trace elements released by the decomposition of thatch are not sufficient to nourish the crops. As with water, you will need to apply several inputs of organic fertilizers. Having a good pile of mature, home-made compost is a real asset, budget-wise.


What Plants Should I Plant In Straw Bales?

Cultivated straws have a maximum lifespan of about one to two years. So it is useless to import perennial plants. Likewise, root vegetables that struggle to grow in this environment should be avoided (carrots, turnips, beets, parsnips, etc.).


On the other hand, many annuals can find their place there: tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, courgettes, melons, cucumbers, beans, peas, beans, lettuces, spinach, aromatics or even some flowers like marigolds.


Tip: for tomatoes or other tall plants, place stakes on the outside of the ball because the ball will not provide the necessary resistance to hold them in place when loaded.


Why Grow In Straw Bales?


Straw bale cultivation is an above-ground, high-altitude cultivation. So it allows you to have beautiful vegetables regardless of the quality of your soil, without having to work the soil and without having to bend too much to plant, sow or take care of the vegetables, which is less painful for the back.


In addition, the constant heat of decomposing straw bales, around 20°C, makes it possible to obtain early and late crops if the surrounding air remains cool.


The Awkward

However, hay bale cultivation is not a panacea. First of all, it’s not always easy to find organic straws. Knowing that the installation is ephemeral (1 to 2 years maximum), it is necessary to have, from the beginning, good motivation. Then, this system requires large amounts of water, many inputs of fertilizers and thus daily monitoring and interventions.


How Much Does a Bale of Straw Cost?

In 2022, the price of a large rectangular parcel of 400 kg is between €20 and €30 and that of a small one of 12 to 15 kg between €2 and €2.5. So this cultivation technique remains very affordable!


Updated: February 28, 2023 — 4:59 am

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