Summer 2014: A Straw-Bale Garden Update

We have an incredibly mild summer in Northeastern Arkansas – and the straw-bale garden has been booming because of it. As I said back when we first planted the garden, this year we moved the location of our straw bales to an area that gets full sun all day. That simple change has made a huge difference in our yield.GardenUpdateS2014_5

Unfortunately, the tomatoes and carrots are the only plants still producing, but despite the loss of the cucumbers and squash, we still had an abundant harvest. I’m fairly sure that the mosquito sprayer, paired with inadequate spacing on my part, is what finally got the cucumbers & squash. Next year we plan to add another 12 bales and have an entire row of tomatoes and then 1/2 a row of cucumbers and 1/2 a row of squash – spacing everything out more and better supporting all of the vining plants.GardenUpdateS2014_1

Thankfully, other than major sprawling from the vines, we haven’t had any real problems with the garden this year. Both the cucumbers and squash produced a ton before finally croaking, and we were even able to harvest some broccoli and cauliflower this year – a first for us. I can confidently say that each year since we first started straw-bale gardening, we’ve seen nothing but improvement. This is still the easiest gardening method I’ve ever tried and the most bountiful.

So far this growing season, we’ve harvested:

  • 172 tomatoes
  • 12 carrots
  • 21 yellow summer squash
  • 5 zucchini
  • 3 watermelons
  • 4 cantaloupes
  • at least 4 quarts of strawberries
  • at least 4 bundles of asparagus spears
  • 80 cucumbers
  • 5 heads of cauliflower
  • 10 heads of broccoli

That’s more than double what we harvested last year.
Last night alone, I picked nearly 30 tomatoes. Seriously, I love a good garden-grown tomato & we are up to our ears in them! I’ll be canning the majority of our harvest and plan to share my canning process soon. I also did a bit of pickling with the cucumbers, but honestly, haven’t found that golden recipe for awesome pickles just yet. If you’ve got a favorite pickle recipe, I’d love to know what it is! Mine turn out much too sour or the vinegar is much to strong….

How is your garden? Do you have any plans for Fall planting?


5 thoughts on “Summer 2014: A Straw-Bale Garden Update

  1. Beth says:

    Best dill pickles – start with Mrs. Wages mix (I just get it at the local store, but here is what it is We also add a fresh dill seed head to each quart jar of pickles before canning.

    We’ve been canning for over 25 years. When my daughter did food processing in 4-H within the last 10 years, the newer approved recipes for canning were terrible for pickles – too much vinegar like you said. Hopefully the Mrs. Wages are still good.

    We have a good refrigerator pickle recipe (with onions). So simple, no canning. But just make what you can use within a few months. I can share it if you wish.


  2. Jody says:

    Honestly, just buy the packets they sell at walmart and follow the direction. We love them all. Bread & butter probably the best.

    Are there any websites or books you used to learn about strawbale gardening? I’ve been thinking about that since we have decided not to have the big garden next year. It’s just too far to drive.


    • Emily says:

      I tried the “Dill” package at walmart – and I’m thinking we just haven’t left it alone long enough? It was super, super tart. I haven’t tried the bread and butter ones though..


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