Many of you know that I discovered (from a Facebook link no less), and am trying, straw gardening this year. It is quite the odd concept, one I was skeptical of at first. However, now that I’ve seen it works, I know that I’ll keep gardening in this way for the foreseeable future.
After cultivating it as described by Joel, on his blog and his book, it is fairly easy to maintain. The most time-consuming aspect was actually figuring out how to keep it watered without having to hand water it every day (it’s on a timer irrigation set-up).
There have been some things that I know I will do differently next year. I’ll make sure it is a little bigger since we have the space. The bales will need some sort of frame as a couple of the bales, as they are decomposing, are starting to collapse to the side. Any herbs planted on the sides need to be planted closer to the top of the bale to develop a better root system closer to the water source. And finally, I’ll make sure to cull out seedlings to allow for more space to grow (I didn’t do well at this aspect of gardening the traditional way either).
Pests are now starting to rear their heads. At first pests weren’t an issue since the straw edges seemed to keep them at bay. As a few plants have grown, they are now touching the ground, creating what I think may be an insect freeway up. I researched how to create some natural pesticides this evening. Hopefully that will keep the pests away from the harvest.
Although the garden this year isn’t that large, the harvest has been big enough that we’ve haven’t really had to buy a few items we usually purchase. Stir fry, mixed vegetables, salads, bread & butter pickles, vinegar soaked cucumbers, and soon, salsa and tomato sauce, have all been made from the fruits of my labor. Fresh food always tastes the best.
I highly encourage you to give it a try. I’ve enjoyed gardening in straw this year and look forward to improving the technique next growing season. If you do, share the pictures of your season—mine are below.
(Note: The tomatoes and corn are not from the straw garden this year.)