Straw Bale Gardening

Here’s pictures from my straw bale garden this year, will continue to follow and post as things bloom on 🙂 Click on pics to see them larger. Please leave a comment below! 🙂

What You Need

• Straw bales (not hay)
• Fertilizer (high nitrogen, not slow-release, without herbicides or crabgrass preventers)
• A trowel
• Planting mix
• Soaker hose or garden hose

STEP 1 – Getting your bales and setting up

place your bales in an area where it would get a full day’s supply of sun. Be sure to place it “cut side up”. You’ll notice one side of the bale looks like hundreds of straw tubes were sliced off with a knife. Having this side up will allow for better water and fertilizer penetration during the conditioning process. Do not cut the strings or wire  holding the bale together.

STEP 2 – Conditioning the bale

“Conditioning” the bales is the process of getting the inside of the bales to start composting. This process takes approximately 10 to 12 days.

 Do not use “fresh” manure.  Put the fertilizer in a plastic container with holes punched in it to distribute the fertilizer evenly.

The following is an at-a-glance chart of the conditioning process. All the volumes and quantities are per bale.
Choose either traditional or Organic and follow those directions

Day In Process

Traditional Fertilizer

Organic Fertilizer


Day 1

1/2 cup

3 cups

Water to saturation

Day 2



Water to saturation

Day 3

1/2 cup

3 cups

Water to wash in fertilizer

Day 4



Water to saturation

Day 5

1/2 cup

3 Cups

Water, warm is best

Day 6



Water, warm is best

Day 7

1/4 cup

1 1/2 cups

Water, warm is best

Day 8

1/4 cup

1 1/2 cups

Water, warm is best

Day 9

1/4 cup

1 1/2 cups

Water, warm is best

Day 10

1 cup 10-10-10

3 cups with P and K

Water to wash in fertilizer

Day 12


Wait 5 more days

Water any new plantings

After conditioning, its time to plant.

STEP 3 – Making the holes

Using the trowel, stab holes in the bale where you wanted the seedlings to go.  Use gloves  when doing this step, you will need to use your hands

STEP 4 – Planting the plants

After removing the peat pot from the seedlings/transplant, place them into their respective holes. This where the soilless mix comes in. Use about 2-3 handfuls of the mix in each of the holes, filling the gap between the transplant and the edge of the holes. Press the transplant and mix down a little to make sure it was firmly in place.

STEP 5 – Watering

Water the transplants daily with watering can or slow hose. This allows you to concentrate the water to the area where the transplant is or use a dripper hose





1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Straw Bale Gardening (Part I) – Vegetable Gardener | Imagine

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