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Old 02-24-2008, 11:51 PM   #1
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Planting a vegetable/tomato garden in straw/hay bales?

Okay - I saw this idea a couple of years ago on some TV gardening show ... planting tomato and other vegetable plants in a bale of hay! Anyone ever try hay bale gardening?

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Old 02-25-2008, 12:46 AM   #2
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mikey, i remembered something from crewsk a while back:
http://www.discusscooking.com/forums...les-11976.html
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Old 02-25-2008, 07:14 AM   #3
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dh and I have been growing major gardens since 1976 and we do something like that. Because we have experienced drought conditions for more seasons than we like to think, we now mulch most of the garden with hay in various conditions. For the tomatoes, right after the plants go in the ground, we completely smother the tomatoes with baled hay right out of the barn. At that time of the spring, we are wanting to get the old hay out of the barn anyway. Bales are hauled to the tomato area, bale strings cut off and large flakes of hay are placed around each plant and between each plant. We may use 80 bales in the years I can tomatoes. We do not stake any tomato plant. In fact, we do not have to go into the tomato patch again until harvest time, unless it is dry like last year. I hand watered the tomato plants for several weeks right after they went into the garden last year.

We also use baled hay for potatoes. The corn gets the stuff right out of the goat pen (pre-fertilized).
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Old 02-26-2008, 08:51 AM   #4
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beth, that a bit different than what mikey and crewsk were talking about. they're using the baled hay as a sort of planter.

what you are doing is still the way to go for normal "in-the-ground" gradening. you're helping to keep the soil moist, and get it warmer earlier than bare or thinly covered soil.

lol, i think people think that tomatoes have to be caged or staked. tomatoes are a vining plant, so they would grow along the ground in a patch in their natural state much like a pumpkin or cucumber.

something you said, though, i'm not sure if i understand. you only harvest tomatoes once, or over a very short period? is that beacuse of efficiency for harvest and storage, or time/workload constraints? does allowing your tomatoes to vine along the mulch cause them to come to fruition differently than caged or staked?

the reason i ask is that i harvest caged tomatoes from late june through october. it's a long harvest season for them here.
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Old 02-26-2008, 02:57 PM   #5
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I only read one link for the tomato bale growing. But it had the bales on the ground. Where else would you put the bales?

bucky, I'm not sure what I said to make you think my harvest was a one shot deal. Once our tomato plants are planted and smothered in mulch, there is no need to return to the tomato patch until ready to harvest. But I am in there watching for the first tomato flowers. Harvest is just like any other plantings; gradual ripening throughout the summer and fall. Vining and caged tomatoes ripen the same.
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Old 02-27-2008, 12:11 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bethzaring View Post
... For the tomatoes, right after the plants go in the ground, we completely smother the tomatoes with baled hay right out of the barn. ... Bales are hauled to the tomato area, bale strings cut off and large flakes of hay are placed around each plant and between each plant. ...
LOL - yes beth, the bales sit on the ground. But, they are not broken apart and spread on the ground for ground cover - they are left intact. As buckytom said - they are used as planters.

You take a bale of hay (do not remove the baling twine/wire holding them together) and cut a couple of holes in the top - add some potting soil, add the plant, fertilizer, etc. - basically just like you would if you were planting them in the ground.

The advantage here is that, if you are just renting a house that you may not be in next year ... you can have a garden without digging up the yard - or the expense in equipment, time and soil conditioners a real garden requires .
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Old 09-26-2008, 05:40 PM   #7
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LOL - yes beth, the bales sit on the ground. But, they are not broken apart and spread on the ground for ground cover - they are left intact. As buckytom said - they are used as planters.

You take a bale of hay (do not remove the baling twine/wire holding them together) and cut a couple of holes in the top - add some potting soil, add the plant, fertilizer, etc. - basically just like you would if you were planting them in the ground.

The advantage here is that, if you are just renting a house that you may not be in next year ... you can have a garden without digging up the yard - or the expense in equipment, time and soil conditioners a real garden requires .
Michael, My Name is Leah, and I was so happy to find your discription of using hay or straw to plant Vegetables. I live in the country, in a house made from two tobacco barns, and I have plenty of room for a garden, but I have a lot of "Munching Nature", but I do have a 14, by 14 dog lot, that I hope to utilize for my "garden. Can you place the bales, one or two bales high. Which would be best, and also, is there anything you can tell me about concerning Vegetables, that I could plant now. I have access to hay and straw bales, and since I am disable, This, I believe, would work for me. Also, could you describe the width and depth of the potting soil I would use to plant.
Thank you for any information you could tell me.

Leah
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Old 09-26-2008, 06:55 PM   #8
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Leah - what you could grow right now will be very limited by where in the country you live. What is your location?
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Old 09-27-2008, 02:25 AM   #9
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Leah - unfortunately all I know is the theory - I didn't get to try it this year. Using hay/straw bales works like a raised bed/compost pile - except root vegetables are out because the bales are too dense. It appears you can use them for just about anything else.

You might want to start by reading the thread crewsk posted back in 2005 that Buckytom remembered that I had forgotten about - Planting Tomatoes In Hay Bales - and then you might read this Planting Tomatoes in a Bale of Hay 25-cent tour on the subject for another basic example of the technique.

One thing crewsk didn't mention was "curing" the bale - either using one that has been sitting out for a year to basically rot or curing it yourself in 10-12 days if using a new bale. You might want to check out this site from Ed Guest to see how he did it, or this one from someone named Toggle Switch Hay is for horses and tomatoes too! to see how she did it, you can read the atricle from The Post in Cherokee County Alabama Hay bale gardening becoming a big hit (mentions things other than tomatoes you can grow in bales), or this one from the University of Minnesota Extension Service.

I don't know why you couldn't stack bales up two high (except for some possible stability problems unless braced some way - or stacking 2-wide on the base and the 2nd row laid at 90 to the first) to raise the garden up out of the reach of rabbits ... but it will do nothing to protect your plants from mice, squirrels, birds, or deer if they are able to jump the fence.

As for what you can plant this time of year ... I don't know. When you say you live in a house made from two old tobacco barns - that puts you somewhere on the east coast ... but, that could be anywhere from New Jersey down to northern Florida - assuming you are in the US. Well, that is assuming that the barns were not relocated to somewhere else. I would check to see if you have a county extension office and ask them - or check with a local garden center.

Now you know everything I know about this subject.
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