Hay Bale Gardening: An Alternative To Growing In Soil

In the past, gardeners relied on the use of vegetable gardens to grow their vegetables and while this method worked it proved to be unfeasible for people who did not have adequate space to house such uses. Many people thus had to do away with the notion of gardening or had to plant the little they could. Many years later, a solution to this problem has come in the form of hay bale gardening which is a boon to people with limited space, such as those in urban dwellings. Many people are not quite sure how this gardening works and the best way to describe it would be a situation where you plant your seeds and plants in straw bales, rather than in the soil which has been the conventional way of doing things.

The good thing about hay bale gardening is that it allows you to grow flowers, herbs, and seasonal vegetables in a space that could otherwise not have held such plants, owing to the poor quality of the soil available or a lack of space. Many people can relate to being at a loss as to how to practice gardening when faced with the above limiting factors. This form of cultivation not only takes up little space but it is also quite versatile as to positioning. You can easily place a hay bale in your balcony where there is no soil and start gardening. How great is that? For people living in urban settings, this is a great way to realize the dream of gardening without the mess that comes with the conventional means of doing this.

Also, hay bales are quite tall, as opposed to most raised beds, and this makes gardening much more manageable. For people with back problems, the elderly, as well as people who suffer aches when bending, kneeling or performing other activities related to gardening, hay bales have proven to be a comfortable alternative. You can easily tend to your plants without putting a strain on your back or other joints and get to enjoy the fruits of your labor all year long. With all these benefits, it is no wonder that many people are embracing this idea.

How It Works

When choosing a hay bale, it is best to go with one bound by a synthetic twine as this will hold longer than a natural one which can rot owing to contact with water. Once you get a bale that suits your space needs, you should place it in the position where you wish to use it. It is important to note that once the hay comes into contact with water, it becomes cumbersome and can, therefore, be challenging to move. It can also get messy trying to transfer a bale that is soaked in water. The string that holds the bundle together should be such that it goes around the hay but is not in contact with the ground. Ground contact can pose a problem to the stability of the bale, and the last thing you want is for everything to fall apart.

Here is the vital part of preparing the bale. You will need to cure the hay bale, which you can do by thoroughly wetting it to start the process. If you can find a bale that has decomposed to some extent, it would make your work easier, so be sure to be on the lookout for this. Once it is wet you will notice an increase in temperature as decomposing releases heat into the atmosphere. In most cases, this process will take about six to ten days before the temperature drops. If you are in a hurry to get started on planting, you can speed up the process by wrapping the bale in plastic as this will increase the rate of decomposition. Once the temperature drops, you can plant your vegetables in the bale as you would in soil.

Gardening in a hay bale will last for about one to two seasons, depending on the size of the bale as well as the practices that you have in place. As you use it, you should ensure that it remains moist for as long as there are plants dependent on it for survival. It is also essential to feed your plants with the necessary nutrients, which you can achieve through the use of fertilizer. Fertilization should take place each week where you plan on using the bale for one season. However, if you want to have the bale for a more extended period, you can schedule the fertilization for once every two weeks.

You can also incorporate manure or compost in your bale as this will help your plants grow at a fast rate while producing healthy produce. Where you wish to have your bale for one season, you can add some worms to it. They will feed on the bale, resulting in more decomposition and thus more nutrients for your plants.

Why Use Hay Bale Gardening?

If you want to avoid weeds, this is one of the best ways to garden. With no soil in play and having chosen a good bale from the start, you can say goodbye to weeding and can, therefore, enjoy fewer aftercare practices in this form of gardening. Also, you spend less time in watering the bale once you condition it. Additionally, you can move the bale to a suitable position as it is more of a container than it is a garden. The same does not hold when it comes to conventional gardening as land is immovable.

Another advantage of hay bale gardening is that you can start your crops earlier in the year as you don’t have to wait for soil temperatures to be favorable as is the case with conventional gardening. It also allows disabled people as well as the elderly and people with muscle aches to partake in gardening at their convenience. And another thing about this method is that you can use it in areas where the soil is of poor quality.

When it comes to hay bale gardening: an alternative to growing in soil, there is nothing but possibilities for people to whom conventional cultivation was but a faraway dream.

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