Sunday, March 13, 2011

Straw Bale Gardening - Part 2: Cooking the Bales (Dude1)

Here, at the urban household of Dude1, we've been hard at work trying to accelerate the "cooking" (composting) of our straw bale garden.  I live in the mouth of a canyon and consequently get a lot of wind, especially this time of year.  That's been making it hard to keep my bales moist which is important for getting the bales to cook.  Therefore, my (almost) 2 year old has been kindly adding a little extra water to the bales : )

It's been exactly two weeks since I first setup my bales and added the initial fertilizer, a blood and bone meal mixture.  At week one (last weekend) I applied another treatment of fertilizer at half the amount.  The second application could have actually been done a little sooner, like at day 5.  Tomorrow, I plan on adding the last application of fertilizer, cutting the amount in half once more. 

My bales have been slow to start composting, most likely because of letting them dry out.  However, I think I have finally reached success.  You can definitely smell a bit of an aroma when standing by the bales, which is a good sign.  This smell is mild and really no big deal.  Also I stuck my fingers into one of the bales the other night and felt significant heat, again, another good sign.  Also, my bales are starting to show some signs of growth.  What?  I haven't planted anything yet.  Well, even though this is straw, and the seed is stripped from the stalks (unlike hay which has the seed), I guess a few seed stragglers stayed behind. 

I'll need to pull the oat grass before planting, but part of me is proud to say I've at least managed to grow "something" in my bales : )  If all else fails, at least I've managed to grow grass.  I hear grass is actually very healthy to eat.

I think I'm well on my way to have a nutrient rich environment for my vegetables and herbs.  I'll have my seeds ordered in the next day or so and will begin planning when, where, and how I'll plant everything.  I'm trying to read up on companion planting so I establish the best permaculture possible. 

Stay tuned for updates.

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