straw bale gardening

Straw Bale Gardening, Part 3: The Final Report

This is the final installment in our Straw Bale Gardening series, which follows a novice gardener’s attempt at her first straw bale garden.

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Straw Bale Gardening, Part 2: The Plot Thickens

Starting a new project begins with great, lofty imaginings…in this case, the vision is of a perfect garden. Then the unanticipated variables creep in. The straw bale garden has triggered a few surprises, some serendipitous, some not. As a follow up to Part 1 of this series, I’ll share in this report on this planting, watering and watching a straw bale garden grow.


The bale set-up was actually a thrill. Maybe it’s an unfulfilled interest in engineering, but I really enjoyed the challenge of locating and grouping the bales in full sun, amongst a system of north-south lines between posts that I drove into the ground myself with a post pounder. I enjoyed stringing an espalier wire system (trellis) between the posts, as I imagined great climbing cucumbers, beans and tomatoes. 

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Straw Bale Gardening: The Promise of a New Spring

Every spring I imagine my ideal garden: weed free, self-tilling, self-watering, disease-resistant, a garden safe from hungry, pesky bugs and critters. Every spring for the past seven years I set out to my little strip of trucked-in topsoil behind the garage of our Lanesboro farm house, determined to coax the ideal garden out of the ground this time, at last! And every midsummer about the time a good dry spell sets in, I am humbled by the many troubles that have cropped up in my perfect little garden. The weeds have somehow managed to out-strip everything – many as tall as I am (granted, I’m short). Still, it’s sobering to realize how entirely I’ve lost my focus on weeding and watering, how compacted the soil has become, how cabbage moths and tomato blight have taken a harsh toll. 


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