Hay Bale Veggie Garden, Here’s How I Did It.

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 nitrate per bale and water them thoroughly.  I did the 1-cup per bale, per day, for 10-days in a row.  Now, I’ve heard you only have to do 5-days.  Make sure you water the bales through.


This photo is day 1, I just inserted the thermometer into the cold wet bales. The ammonium nitrate caused the inside of the bales to cook.  By day 3 my bales heated up to 127 degrees.  That’s the hottest they got and they stayed warm for a few more days before the bales cooled off.

I’ll be back with more pictures, but now’s the time to get your hay bales started in the Northwest.

4/17/2017 update: Hay Bale Veggie Garden Part II: Planting


6 thoughts on “Hay Bale Veggie Garden, Here’s How I Did It.

  1. Pingback: Hay Bale Veggie Garden Part II: Planting | The Urban Gardener

  2. Is it normal to have flies buzzing around while they are cooking? I am on day 9 of prepping my bales, and I have quite a few flies around the bales.

  3. Hmmm. I didn’t notice many flies around my bales, but since they’re essentially rotting I think flies could be normal. Did you use ammonium nitrate? I don’t think the flies will hurt anything, even if they lay eggs maggots aren’t going to be attracted to ripening veggies.

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