We’re on vacation for the next two weeks, but we’re leaving you in good hands with guest posts everyday AND regular Nerd Nest scheduled posts on weekdays. Today’s guest post is by Emily of With Elephant Grace. She’s a fellow Project Lifer, food lover, and gardener.
When I first read Megan’s call for guest posters, I knew it was something I wanted to do; but, I had a real time trying to think of a great topic to share with you awesome readers. I thought about it while I was cooking supper, crafting my Project Life spreads, and watering my garden…. and then, Bingo! I had it. I can tell you all about the awesome-sauce that is straw-bale gardening!
Out of necessity, both of my grandmothers were avid gardeners. Fortunately for me, this equates to some really awesome childhood memories involving gardens, planting, and the best home-grown produce you’ve ever tasted. Even so, I didn’t start experimenting with my own garden until about 3 years ago.
The first year I tried, it was an utter failure. I attempted to grow tomatoes in containers that were too small, too dry, and way too hot. My four plants only produced four tomatoes all season – and those only grew to the size of a golfball. To say I was discouraged would be an understatement.
Fortunately while researching what I could possibly be doing wrong, I came across a brilliant article about growing a garden in – of all things – a bale of straw! I was intrigued and had nothing to lose. So, that Fall, my Dad and I bought four bales and let them sit out all Winter. We planted in them the following Spring.
It was a run-away success. Using only four bales of straw, a bit of fertilizer, plants, and just a 4′x4′ section of the yard, we harvested over 200 tomatoes, 2 zucchini, and 2 yellow squash. We were blown away – and now totally hooked. This year, we doubled our garden size, going from 4 bales to 8.
I’m telling you, if you have enough room in your yard for a single bale of straw, you have enough room for a garden. One 3′x1′ bale of straw can house 2-3 plants depending on the end size and type of plant. You don’t need good soil, tons of time, or even a lawn, really. The bale serves as both a container and nutrients.
How does it work? As the bale breaks down it begins to compost, creating the best plant food for your lovely veggies. You plants then absorb the nutrients, and put out amazing produce for you to enjoy. That’s it. Truly if you take a few minutes, prep your bales properly, keep them good and watered, and watch out for the neighborhood dog, you can have a bountiful garden all season long.
Interested in Straw Bale Gardening?
- 10 advantages to Straw Bale Gardening
- Cost Benefits of Starting Your Own Straw Bale Garden
- Growing a Straw Bale Garden
- Conditioning Your Bales
- Quick Tips from the County Extension Office
Emily shares her love for home gardens, crafting, and children’s ministry on her blog, With Elephant Grace. When she’s not convincing her neighbors that straw bale gardens are more than just a novelty, Emily likes to post about encouraging Compassion International Sponsors, Project Life, and modern home economics. You can find out more about Emily by following her on Instagram.