Tips for Maintaining Your Straw Bale Garden

What to do when the bale is finished

What is left when your garden is finished is amazing! Through this process, you have created your very own clean potting mix and plant food. It is full of worms and worm castings and is a great food source for your existing garden beds or pots. If you have other garden beds, you can simply cut the strings and spread this around your plants or the base of a tree or shrub to give them a good feed. You can also put your composted bale in pots and continue planting.

Planting seedling

When you are ready, take yourself off to your nearest garden centre and purchase your seedlings. To plant your seedlings you will need a small hand garden shovel to open up your bale. This process does not need any soil other than what comes out of your seedling pot. Simply make a hole, take your seedling out of its pot, carefully loosen the roots and place it inside your  bale. Push the straw back together with the seedling inside.  Be sure to make the hole big enough for the whole seedling to sit within the bale to prevent the seedling being damaged. Water your seedlings in. If the roots of your transplanted seedling are exposed cover them up with some potting mix if you have some available. Alternatively, dig out a little more straw and make the hole deeper. The roots need to be completely protected from the elements. Place any straw that has been pulled around the base for your seedlings.

 

Tighten your strings

As the bale softens the strings will become loose. I find if you get a small stick from the garden, and at the end of the bale place the stick behind the string and start twisting. You will find that as you twist the string will become tighter. Once the string is tight again, push the stick behind the string and it will secure itself and stay in place for the next few months.

Mushrooms and Mould

Finding the odd mushroom or two growing on the outside of your bale while conditioning, is a sign of a healthy, decomposing bale. These mushrooms are harmless but are not to be eaten. You can knock them off or just leave them alone to complete their life cycle. You may also notice throughout the year that mould appears on top of your bale. This can take a variety of forms. Some look like a white powdery blob or bright yellow. You are most likely to experience this in the warmer months. This does not last long. It will disappear in a week or two and is harmless to your crop of veggies, but as like any veggies we eat, I recommend that you wash before you eat.

This is a good opportunity to get the kids back around the bale and talk about what is happening. The mould is a health part of the composting process and is very important to the environment. This is not to be afraid of, its all part of natures process.

 

Using your feed & seed packet

PowerFeed packet:

Open the sachet and pour the contents into a 9lt watering can. Fill the watering can to to fill line. You can water the plants from the top wetting the foliage and bales. This will feed three – four bales.

Seed packet

Open up your bale, to create a hole. Place a hand full of the seed raising mix from your resource kit inside the hole and place your seed inside. If you are planting smaller seeds such as carrots you have purchased, you can place a thin layer of seed raising mix on top of your bale, sprinkle your seeds and then top your seeds with more mix. Pat down firmly and water in.