Return to the Vegetable Gardening Forum | Post a Follow-Up

prepairing straw bales for vegetable planting

Posted by imn2plnts 8 (My Page) on
Thu, Mar 22, 12 at 20:35

Greetings everyone,
I am new to this forum and from what I have read here it seems to be an interesting, friendly and informative place. I would like to say hello to all of you and good luck in all your endeavors. I am starting a straw bale vegetable garden this year and would like to ask a question about preparing the straw for planting. I watered the bales for three days then added 1/2 cup of ammonium nitrate per bale for three days and then 1/4 cup ammonium nitrate per bale for three days. I watered in the ammonium nitrate well with each application. From what I have read the straw is supposed to heat up during this process as it is decomposing but I have yet to detect any heat. My questions are:

a. How long should it take for this heating process to run it's course?

b. Being as it has been 10 days since I began this process and the straw is cool to the touch is it safe to plant vegetable seedlings at this point?

c. Should I give it more time to heat up and cool down and if so should I stop the ammonium nitrate or keep applying it?

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: prepairing straw bales for vegetable planting

It is a very unusual method of gardening so you might get more info from a site that focuses on the method rather than one that is traditional gardening oriented. I did find this one long discussion about it from over on the Garden Experiments forum.

And a Google search pulls up several links to info on how-to do it and I linked a set of step-by-step videos below and I hope they are of help.

Just a guess on my part but I would suspect, from what I have read, that your bales are too fresh since partially decomposed bales is what is called for. But it looks like you could still hollow out the core and fill it with potting soil for planting.

Hope this helps.


Here is a link that might be useful: Straw bale gardening videos

RE: prepairing straw bales for vegetable planting

I had never heard of that method of gardening until last spring, when the clerk at the local gas station was telling me about it. She said you had to wait 3 weeks before planting.

I asked through the summer how it was going, and she said the seeds sprouted, but they weren't doing well. By the end of summer, she declared it a total disaster and a waste of effort (not to mention not getting much in the way of crops). She said something hatched and the bales were surrounded by clouds of some kind of small flying insects.

She said she would never do it that way again.

Then I googled 'bale garden failure', and got lots of hits agreeing with her view. Below is one of them.


Here is a link that might be useful: Baling out of the perfect garden dream

RE: prepairing straw bales for vegetable planting

Thank you for the information digdirt and belgianpup.

 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!

Return to the Vegetable Gardening Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.

Learn more about in-text links on this page here