Happy spring Forget-me-not. Don’t forget, The Urban Gardener is closed for Sounders home games. Thanks for understanding. 💚💙⚽️🌿
Gotta love using Salvage pieces in the garden. This industrial freezer rack makes the best outdoor coffee table for your patio garden. It can survive any weather with zero care.
Or, hang it on a fence for a pea trellis.
How would you upcycle this piece in your home or backyard?
Photo credit: Mike Scerra
Find it at The Urban Gardener in Tacoma, WA.
Reposting our original post on How To Grow Vegetables in Hay Bales.
Three years ago, I started to hear about this “hay bale gardening.” I’d seen it done many times, but never really stopped to explore the idea, until I got a rush of regular gardening clients that were looking for advice on how to start their own hay bale gardens.
So, I did what any garden consultant does… I started my own. I am officially hooked!
I started with 5 bales of alfalfa hay. Choose carefully where you want to place your bales, because once you start watering, there is no moving that wet heavy bale. Position the bales so that the tied/twined side of the bale is the outer wall. You need that twine to contain the walls. I also had a few rods of rebar leftover from another projects, so I drove the rebar into the ground to hold the bales in-place should they ever shift.
Next step: sprinkle 1-cup of ammonium…
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If you just found us, our previous blog post Hay Bale Veggie Garden, Here’s How I Did It. shows the initial steps for setting-up and treating your bales. Here’s what’s next:
Your hay bales should have heated up and cooled down in about 10 days. Once they’ve cooled they are ready to plant.
For my hay bales, I topped dressed them with some potting soil. You don’t have to. I wanted to seed lettuce, chard and spinach into the tops of my bales right away, so I added the 2 inch layer of organic potting soil to give those seeds a good start.
You can see in the picture below, that I added a nice tomato (Sungold, probably). It was easy to separate the hay and “plant” or tuck in the 4-inch potted tomato plant. I had five bales total and I planted two tomatoes plants, two different cucumber plants, zucchini, spinach, lettuce, Swiss chard, and basil.
The plants were supper robust from the bales being fed a heavy dose of ammonium nitrate. The tomatoes and cucumbers were some of the healthiest plants I’ve ever grown.
The downer was the amount of snails and slugs that found my hay bales. The nighttime feeding was so intense that I bought a cheap pair of hand pruners just to snip the slugs in-half (the goo ruins pruners, so don’t use your Felcos). It was hard at first, I started with cutting the little ones, but one night and a big slug that could wipe out most of my lettuce crop turned me into a highly efficient slug hunter. The big ones have a little give when you cut em. Ick! But I like fresh grown baby lettuce, so I kept cutting down the slimy heard. A headlight from the camping store and you’ll be set for night hunting.
The alfalfa bales also sprouted like crazy. It wasn’t really that bad, you would have to weed your garden beds anyway. The alfalfa sprouts plucked out easy peasy and at knee height.
Side note: I wish I could show you more pictures, but the camera with all of the pictures got stolen. Wah.
I did keep the bales in-place and grow in them again next season, but the bales were falling apart and the plants were not nearly as lush and productive as they were with year one. That fall, the bales along with the fallen leaves and grass clippings, made a beautiful compost ready for spring.
I would definitely grow veggies in hay bales again. I would do it exactly the same, but I don’t think I would use the same bales a second year. I hope you try it and tell us how you grew your veggies using hay bales in the comments below.
1960’s vintage patio set for children. Made by the Russell Woodard Company, USA.
Available at The Urban Gardener in Tacoma, Washington.
Photo by: Mike Scerra