I’m conducting an experiment this year.  I’m growing two Roma tomato plants --  one in ground, one in a straw bale. 

They were planted on Memorial Day in Central Minnesota.  As you can see, the plants were both the same size on planting day.  And, now three weeks later, they both have one set of flowers.  So when you compare the plants -- no difference so far.  But, compare the weed growth – yikes.


I think it’s obvious that I got grass straw bales and not oat straw bales.  Weeds are everywhere!  And, since I planted onion sets on the sides of the bale, I couldn’t wipe with vinegar as suggested to kill the grass.  So then I had to spend at least 20 minutes pulling out the weeds. 



And I must say, the smell of the rotting bales isn’t great to be around. 

The in-ground tomato had one thistle and that’s it. 
I’m lucky to have nice soil, so the bales weren’t necessary, just a fun gardening experiment.  But so far, the ground is winning.

Have you tried straw bales?  What’s been your experience?