In addition to making a pretty good livestock bedding straw retains many properties that would allow a homesteader to leverage for growing. The first is that it will elevate the plants which is ideal for most melons, squash, zucchini, and cucumbers. Next, they do very well at retaining moisture, so much in fact that farmers and ranchers have to keep these covered so they don’t begin to degrade or rot when they get exposed to rain or other moisture. They also will begin composting themselves in a fairly short time, providing an excellent habitat for mushrooms and fungi. Another reason that people use the straw bales for gardening is due to lack of space and ease of tending.
People who live in an apartment or people who just do not have room in their yard can grow vegetables using straw. They like the fact that it is easy to grow in and they do not have to crawl on the ground to tend to the garden. Since we are experimenting with different ways to grow a garden, we decided to try the straw bale approach.
We went to the local feed store and bought 2 straw bales. We put them in the back yard and soaked them with water. We continued to do this for the next week and a half. This is suppose to help the straw bale get moist and cause the center to start decomposing. We then bought plants, 3 tomatoes and 3 cantaloupe, to put into the straw.
I planted the straw bales this past weekend. One bale has the tomatoes and the other has the cantaloupe. I was really amazed at the water retention the straw bales have. I was surprised to see that the middle of the bale was already composting. I think that the plants will do well in the straw bales. We will just have to wait and see. I am interested to hear comments and feedback from you regarding your experiences with straw bale gardening.