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Straw Bale Gardening through the Summer

  • Blog Post by: Helen Yarmoska
  • September 25, 2013 - 8:46 AM

It started as a spark when reading the article about Straw Bale Gardening (SBG)in the Home and Garden section this Spring.  The spark started to smolder when my friends working on the Cargill Giving Garden attended a seminar on SBG.  Then flames ignited when I met a fellow customer in a garden center who complained that she could not grow tomatoes at her north shore cabin.  Scene set.  I was going to try a SBG at my cabin garden this summer.

Then I read the book.  Without daily contact, I couldn’t follow all the directions.  Conditioning the bales (breaking them down so you can grow in them) would take longer.  Because we turn off the water before we leave the cabin, irrigation was out of the question.  And  I got started late, so I couldn’t use the hoop which would really help up north.  Out of the shoot I'm breaking three rules.

Conditioning went OK.  (I blogged earlier about the bear who loves blood meal).  Planting day arrived.   The local hardware store ran out of top soil.  The garden center was 45 minutes away; I didn’t want to waste a perfectly good Memorial Day weekend, so I used compost (rule break number 4).  The tomatoes went in.  Two hybrid Roma plants started purchased at the Isle Farmer’s Market.  I put one in the ground and one in a raised bed.

After a couple of weeks, it looked like Raised bed 1, SBG 0.  Weeds were terrible and mushrooms were sprouting everywhere.  It was a wet Spring so I did not need to worry about water.  
Summer came, the tomatoes grew, then I messed up again.  Although I bleached my cages, and my trowels, I forgot to wash my gloves (at the cabin we have no washing machine).  Blight came to both tomato plants.

I’m going to cut this story short by saying that I got equal amounts of tomatoes from each of the plants.  Both a skimpy.  The squash and pumpkins did GREAT!   I compare my “up north” experiment to the tomatoes grown with irrigation, daily tending, and proper care at the Cargill Giving Garden (see picture) and I have concluded that I need to wait until I retire to try the straw bale thing again!

 

And this being our last post for the season, please feel free to comment about your year’s disaster, your year’s accomplishments and maybe your favorite photo or blog item for the year. 

May the Winter bring you many seed catalogs, many happy dreams of flowers blooms and promise of a wonderful Spring.

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