How Does My Garden Grow? In a Straw Bale of course!

Today I’m linking up with The Nester and talking all things plants 🙂

Recently, she’s been blogging about keeping houseplants and how to incorporate them into your decor. It’s been really interesting (not to mention her photos are always amazing and make me wish I would photograph more of my decor for my blog… but that would require some cleaning, straightening, and really just overall polishing. Yeah, don’t hold your breath – it’s not at the top of my to-do list. I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to sharing photos of my space.)

Anyway, back on subject: plants. I do have a few houseplants, but I also have two cats so I have to be super choosy with inside plants (most lilies are poisonous to cats, and so are several other houseplants. Cacti are usually a safe bet though – unless you have a kitten like mine who tends to EAT the aloe plants. Yeah have fun figuring that one out after you’ve burned your arm on the oven door for the umpteenth time… not fun, not fun at all my friend.)

So, instead of sharing my cat eaten sparse collection of indoor succulents and cacti, I thought you might be more interested in seeing my new garden – I know I am 🙂  Thus, without further adieu, I present to you, My Straw-Bale Garden:

Straw-bale Garden

Let me start off by saying my Dad and I LOVE tomatoes, I mean really, this girl could easily sit down with a couple of tomatoes and a salt shaker and go to town! And we all know that homegrown tomatoes outshine any store-bought ones every day of the week.

Last year, we decided to plant our own tomatoes in containers. They did not do well. Mainly because the containers were to small, the summer was too hot, and I planted them too late. We planted 4 plants – only one of them produced tomatoes, and it only grew 4; the largest of which was about the size of a golf ball. Not a good crop. Not at all.

Anyway, after that miserable and failed attempt learning experience I came across an article online that talked about planting a garden in straw bales (key note, STRAW bales. NOT hay. Hay has too many grass seeds in it, straw has almost no grass seed and doesn’t really ever need to be weeded).

We do not own a tiller, and did NOT want to dig up the yard by hand – which is why we tried containers last year. Plus, the area where we would put a garden is over-shadowed by a large black walnut tree – contaminating our soil. (Apparently tomatoes and black walnuts do NOT play well together) Since the tree is older than I am, it wasn’t going anywhere soon… So we looked closer at the whole straw bale gardening thing. You can find more info about the process in general here and here.

Dad wanted to get some straw for a fall display anyway, so we decided to pick up a couple of extra bales and use all of them for our garden this spring.

So far, they’ve worked our fantastically! After Thanksgiving, we moved the 4 bales to the backyard where they sat all winter & began to rot/compost making a great self-contained planter (Be sure to leave the strings attached and set the bales string-sides out: you want the ‘unstringed’ sides on the ground and looking toward the sky). I’ve never had to weed them and they stay really moist (but, on the other hand the drainage is so great that you really can’t over water them either). I typically have been watering them 2 days a week, but I’m sure they will need more than that as summer heats up. I fertilized the bales every other day the week before we planted (to ‘prep’ the bales) but that was the only prep I had to do. You can plant 2 tomatoes per bale. We have 6 tomatoes and 3 ‘gourd plants’ (i.e. squash, cucumber, and zucchini). To plant, you just separate the straw a bit, add a scoop of soil for extra nutrients, and put in your plant. Super easy!

Within a week of planting, one tomato plant was already growing 4 tomatoes! (<——–That sentence reads weird to me – too many tomatoes and plants…. ug, maybe it’s just the curse of having an English background…)

Baby Tomatoes

Below is a look at the garden on the day I planted (on the left) and then again today – 3 weeks later (on the right)

Garden Comparison

It’s kind of hard to see, but the plants have nearly doubled in size. We did have some problems right after planting with something eating our leaves, but a quick sqirt of hot-sauce mixed with water took care of that problem. 😉

(I don’t live anywhere with deer, we think it was either rabbits or moths. But anyway, they’ve stopped damaging the plants now.)

I planted a few herbs near my door, but failed to photograph them. c’est la vie

Do you have a garden? I’d love to hear about what all you are growing (indoors or out)! If you’ve posted about plants before, you should totally hop on over to The Nester and link up 😉


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