Tips for Maintaining Your Straw Bale Garden

Growing vegetables in a strawbale

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.

Get the children involved:

This is a great leaning experence for the children. Now the life cycle of the garden is complete, we can demonstrate how the composting process has changed the straw. By cutting the strings and getting the children in and exploring the inside, of the bale. They get a first hand look a this.

This is also an opportunity to acknowledge the gift of food from our garden.  It is also an opportunity to give thanks in the way of nourishing the surrounding area in your service. By having the children spread the composted straw around other garden beds, this gives them an opportunity to give thanks in a physical form that they can participate in.

 Cut strings

  •  Spread around base of trees
  •  Add to existing veggie beds
  •  Fill plant pots and plant a new tree or shrub

Simply cut the strings and spread this around your plants or the base of a tree or shrub. 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.

Get the children involved:

Don’t forget that they have done this before. In my experience the outcome is much better when the children take on the responsibility of not only taking care of the plants but also the responsibility of the planting process.

This will leave them with a increase the sense for pride for the garden and also further develop the understanding for the need to respect their environment.

To plant your seedlings:  

  • 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  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.

Tighten your strings

As the bale softens the strings will become loose and the bale will begin to sag and lean to the side (around 6 months)

  • Find a small stick from the garden
  • 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 is a sign of a healthy, decomposing bale.

Things you need to know:

  • These mushrooms are harmless (but are not to be eaten)
  • You can knock them off or just leave them alone

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
  • Bright yellow.
  • This does not last long.
  • Harmless to your crop of veggies
  • Wash veggies before you eat.

You are most likely to experience this in the warmer months.  It will disappear in a week or two.

Get the children involved:

This is a good opportunity to get the kids back around the bale and talk about what is happening. The mould is a healthy 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:

  •  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.

Seed packet

Planting from seed is easy and also cheep. You will find 4 envelopes inside your resource kit provided, this will give you a start if you find that one of your bales has space to fill.

  • Open up your bale
  • Create a hole.
  • Place a hand full of the seed raising mix inside
  • 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.

strawberries growing in strawbale