Straw bale gardens are a vegetable lover's dream because they're easy to make, versatile, and inexpensive. Use these easy instructions to make your own.
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
hay bale garden planter in yard terra cotta pots
Brie Passano

Straw bales make fun fall decorations for arranging pumpkins and gourds around. But they also can become a bed that can grow these vegetables, plus many others! Creating a straw bale garden lets you grow vegetables just about anywhere, without requiring a lot of digging, weeding, and other labor-intensive tasks. Simply give your bale a good watering, add fertilizer, dig a hole in it, and plant your favorite veggies inside. Smaller plants such as determinate tomatoes, pepperslettuce, bush beans, and herbs work best. The bale will slowly turn into compost, which you can use to feed your garden the following year. Here's how to make your own straw bale garden in three easy steps.

  • Working time 1 hr
  • Difficulty Easy
  • Involves Digging, Planting

What you need


How to do it

Part 1

Step 1

Condition Straw Bale

To properly condition your straw bale for planting, you'll need to monitor its moisture levels. Water the bale thoroughly for three days to make sure it stays damp, checking for moisture and heat by pushing your hand inside the bale. During the next six days, use a general purpose liquid fertilizer ($17, The Home Depot) to ensure that the bale has enough nitrogen to grow healthy plants.  After feeding the bale, keep it damp for two more days before planting. Finally, when the bale feels warm, but cooler than your hand, you're ready to plant!

straw bale vegetable garden
Step 2

Dig Hole

Using a garden trowel, dig out the middle of the straw bale. Dig a hole slightly deeper and wider than the plant's roots. If you want to grow a tomato plant in your straw bale, dig a deeper hole than you would for other vegetables.

straw bale vegetable garden tomato
Step 3

Plant Vegetables

Insert plants of your choice into the straw bale. Fill in around the plants with potting soil and water everything well. Fertilize every week or two; doing so will make up for the nutrients that the plants would normally receive when planted in soil.

Editor's Tip

For top-heavy plants like tomato and corn, choose dwarf varieties to avoid breaking apart the bale.

By Claire Harmeyer

    Comments (2)

    How difficult was this project?
    Better Homes & Gardens Member
    March 23, 2021
    Difficulty: Very Easy
    Any ideas if I could use this for planting Zucchini, Summer Squash, or Pumpkins
    Better Homes & Gardens Member
    March 26, 2019
    I'm an e farmer. do you used wheat or oat straw? other than that, i'm going to try this year.

    Project Toolbar

    Font Size