Tips for Maintaining Your Straw Bale Garden
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 learning experience 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
Worm Castings packet:
To apply to your straw bale garden:
- Place a small handful of castings across each bale or around the base of each plant. Water in well. If your bale is soft, you can pock a few holes in and around the bale so that the worm castings sit inside the holes and don’t wash away easily.
- Do this twice per term. This will encourage new healthy growth and a beautiful and healthy plant for the season.
Planting from seed is easy and also cheap. 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.
Controlling pests in the garden without using harsh chemicals is easy.
When planting seedlings such as broccoli, kale and cabbage, the little green caterpillars are going to be a problem. This is easily fixed with a product from your local garden centre called Natures Way – by Yates. Give the plants a spray at the time of planting and then every 2-3 weeks after that. Or at the first sign of leaf damage.
If you are wanting to make up your own home-made spray this is also simple and cost effective. You will need the following:
• 1 plastic spray bottle
• 2 tablespoons canola oil
• 1 teaspoon liquid soap
• 2 cups warm water.
Funnel the solution into a spray bottle and spritz caterpillars liberally.
A natural way to control the snails in the garden is to sprinkle crushed up egg shells around the base of the plants. This is an exercise that you can get the children involved in. Bringing the egg shells in from home (washed) and the children can sprinkle the shells themselves. Snails will only be an issue when the plants are quite small. Once you get them through the first few weeks of growth. This should not be a problem.
When selecting plants that you are going to grow, please remember:
- Only plant what is in season
- Choose plants that are low maintenance
- Refer to your resource emails for recommendations
- Feel free to call me anytime