How to Grow a Straw Bale Vegetable Garden

Straw bale gardens are a vegetable lover's dream—they're easy to make, versatile, and inexpensive. Use these straw bale garden instructions to build your own for fresh herbs and vegetables right outside your door.

Straw bales are more than just a fall decoration to arrange pumpkins and gourds around—they're a bed that can grow these vegetables, plus many others! Straw bale gardens offer small-space gardeners the opportunity to grow vegetables just about anywhere. Say goodbye to digging, weeding, and other labor-intensive gardening tasks. Simply water your bale, dig a hole, and plant all of your favorite veggies inside.

The easiest vegetables to grow in a straw bale include tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant, lettucebeans, peas, and herbs. Once you've become a master straw bale gardener, you can tackle squash, cucumbers, zucchini, and pumpkins. Tip: For larger plants, only two of each variety should be grown in a bale, while up to five smaller plants can grow in one bale. Your straw bale will eventually turn to compost, so it can feed your garden the following year. How's that for organic gardening? Learn how to make your own straw bale garden with these three easy steps, and you'll have a go-to gardening plan for years to come.

  • Working Time 1 Hour
  • Start to Finish 2 Weeks
  • Difficulty         Projects Easy
  • Involves Digging, Planting

What you need

Tools

  • Garden trowel
  • Hand cultivator
  • Container to discard straw

Materials

  • Straw bale
  • Liquid fertilizer
  • Tomato plant
  • Basil plants
  • Garden soil

How to do it

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—check for moisture and heat by pushing your hand inside the bale. During the next six days, use a liquid fertilizer to ensure that the bale has enough nitrogen to grow healthy plants. Any standard vegetable mix from your local gardening store will work. After feeding the bale, keep it damp for two more days before planting. Finally, when the bale is warm—but cooler than your hand—you're ready to plant!

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, like peppers, cucumbers, and squash.

Step 3 Plant Vegetables

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

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