Tuesday, May 28, 2013

This year's experiment - straw bale gardening.

Periodically I try something new. One idea I came across between the end of last year's garden and the beginning of this year's was planting in straw bales.
It seemed a good way to rotate tomato plants to a spot in the yard that didn't have late blight or whatever it is that annually causes the lower leaves of my tomato plants to wither and drop off.

We had six bales of straw delivered and set them on the driveway. I added a couple of inches of  compost to the top and, a few days later, another couple of inches. When it came time to plant, which I did way early, I used an old rake handle to make a conical hole at appropriate places in the straw and filled them with more compost. (I suspect soil would have been better.) Then I planted a variety of tomato plants, some of which are determinate and some indeterminate. I also planted one patty pan squash.

We had some very warm weather around the beginning of May but no sooner did I plant the tomatoes (and the peppers in the regular garden) than we had a cold spell. With covering - row cover material for the straw bale area and peppers and upside down driveway sealer cans for the tomatoes in the garden - everything survived quite well.

My major concern is where the plants will obtain the nutrients they need to grow. I assume the inside of a straw bale is bereft of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus and also the fungi that assist plants to obtain nutrients. I have added some fish emulsion and will soon side dress with a mixture of bone meal, blood meal and green sand.

This is an experiment. We have enough squash and tomato plants in the rest of the garden that should this fail we will not be at a loss. So far these plants do not show any differences compared to those in the soil.