Straw Bale Garden 5-31-2015

It has been a cold and wet spring here in Wisconsin. In my main garden all of the cool weather crops are healthy and growing like crazy. In the front of the house are my straw bales.  They are protected partially from wind by the house and an overhang and the decomposing straw provides a warm growth environment.  I have planted the bales with tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, kale, Swiss chard, bush beans, Zephyr squash, zucchini, yellow squash, banana squash and watermelons.  As the bales are in front of my house this year, I planted edible nasturtiums and blue trailing lobelia on the fronts of the bales.  As they grow they will cascade down the bales. This will provide colorful flowers and greenery to cover the straw and will also attract bees and butterflies.

The most important issue with maintaining a straw bale garden is water.  When selecting a site, make sure that there is a nearby water source.  If your water source is you hauling water out to the bales in a jug, this will not work.  My husband installed drip hoses held in place by flexible wire.  It is best if this is installed early in the season and the plants are grown around the hose.  The hose needs to be pinned or held in place because if it is moved or jerked around later in the season, it may break some of the plants growing near it.  I try to water at least every other day if there is not any rain.  When it is hot, daily watering may be needed.  This  is the difficult part of growing a garden in a straw bale.