Monday 28 April 2014

Straw Bale Gardening

Springtime means gardening for many people, myself  included.  There was a time when every spring meant  the planting of a  vegetable garden  that  would entail the use of a tractor with plows, harrows, hillers, seeders and  then rakes,  hoes and many hours of weeding.  It gave us all the vegetables we ever needed and more.

On my return to the workforce full time the vegetable garden became a thing of the past.  There was no longer time to spend working the soil and keeping the weeds at bay.  In time flowers satisfied the gardening itch when I discovered how a perennial bed once well established would need minimal care with maximum reward.  

I still missed the just-picked taste of a tomato, pepper, or carrot though, so I have been thinking and reading  a lot lately about alternative ways of vegetable gardening . I wanted to find some way to have a garden without the intensive ground preparation and maintenance of years before. There are lots of options, from container gardening to raised beds but one method caught my eye – straw bale gardening.

I had never heard about it before and came across an article on the internet that explained how one could have a garden without having to prepare any ground at all.  In a nutshell, the straw bales are conditioned with water and fertilizer until the inner portion begins to compost.  At this point you can make small indentations and plant seedlings or spread a layer of potting soil and plant seeds on top.  Slowly, over the season, the bale will continue to compost and the plants continue to grown inside with weeding not being needed.  Just type “straw bale gardening in your browser  and  several websites come up that explain the concept  - for example, this one.

 The library also had a book on the subject, and after reading that I have decided that this method is worth a try.  I have just purchased the bales and look forward to this experiment.   Gardening  is a hobby that I think makes me a happier person,  so hopefully I will be able to report success this fall but even if it doesn’t turn out as advertised I will have had fun playing the growing game. 

Patricia Milner, Head of Reference Services

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