It never fails that someone will ask how I come up with subjects for the blog to write about. It always makes me smile. A walk around the garden provides millions (okay, I exaggerate) of topics to talk about. It is the very reason I love landscaping – you never know it all!
With that said, this week is no exception unearthing a topic for consideration. Ironically, the subject came up in two entirely different conversations regarding two completely different subjects with two different people. Except, the subject had one thing in common – hay bales.
The rancher to my south attended a horse show that touted tossing full bales of oat straw bales into a pasture that resembled a moon scape. It would provide some nourishment to the horse that had nothing to graze upon between their normal feedings and my friend couldn’t find oat straw to accomodate her horses.
The other inquiry came from my daughter who anyone but a rancher. Surprisingly, she sent me the link to a website covering horses and other related outdoor living. I could barely wait to see what posessed her to visit such a website. It seems one of her fellow employees is a gardener that wanted to share this new concept with my daughter who does like to garden. In turn, she thought the subject to be a great topic to address on my blogsite. Was it by chance the article covered baled gardening!
The article had me intrigued as the article was about baled hay, not straw that was familiar to me. I wondered how they proposed to plant in it without sprouting whatever grain existed! Well, I will let you read that mystery in the link above to see their solution, however here is my take.
The application of using bales to grow plants is short term. The bales will rot in time thus losing their form. The good news is the rotted bales make for great mulch in the garden.
Additionally, straw bales are very inexpensive and constructing baled planting area can be built in a matter of minutes. The bales are wide which requires a large space to accommodate them if creating a large rectangle and backfilling the open center with good composted soil. In other words, they make a thrifty, temporary raised planter bed. Or, single bales can be set up in narrow areas with the idea of cutting out holes in the bales, filling the hole with good soil and planting directly into the bale. If you decided to try direct planting, be certain you do not cut the binding twine holding the bales together!
Water and fertilizer would be another concern with baled gardens if planting directly. The composition of the bales can allow air to flow through easier and dry the plants out faster. Given the small amount of soil added to the holes, the nutrients will deplete rapidly – especially if planting fertilizer-hungry vegetables! The good news is if you are using straw, the weeding within the bales will be non existant. I am not certain this will be true with hay!
Of course, there is always the issue of using the horses feed around here for gardening despite the positive newness of the activity. There may be a bit of dissention from the herd!
Try something new in the garden this year. Reach out to a neighbor and learn tips they might be employing to plant the perfect tomato, or grow dinner plate size dahlias. The key is to get outside and have some fun in the garden!