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Bale Growing

Posted: Mon Jan 21, 2019 5:31 pm
by Danux
I recently learned about the "Ruth Stout" method of gardening, which consequently led to bale gardening. Is anybody here growing vegetables in bales? I figure I'll give it a shot this year, have a bunch of bales lining the back yard, will give some watermelon and maybe corn a go. Any experienced suggestions on what grows well in a bale would be welcome.

Has me thinking about trees as well, am wondering if burying a bale in the ground and planting a seedling into it might be a good way to get a tree started in marginal/dry earth. Quite a bit more effort, but if you're planting something with a decent tap root, the bale might sop up enough water to give the tree the water and nutrients it needs to establish itself.

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Re: Bale Growing

Posted: Tue Jan 22, 2019 12:42 pm
by oldschool
Farmgal does bale gardening

not sure if it is a no no but here is a link to one of her posts
https://livingmydreamlifeonthefarm.com/ ... june-2015/

Re: Bale Growing

Posted: Mon Jan 28, 2019 7:04 am
by Dakota
I was not going to comment but I thought well....that's what this forum is about-different perspectives and learning from others successes and failures. I attempted bale gardening for a couple years, along side of my regular boxes as I was testing various growing techniques. Square foot gardening, bales, boxes, three sisters.... I have to say my results were ok. But in the end OK or average wasn't enough if you're attempting to live off the fruits of your labour! I gave up on my bales after they failed to produce as well as my garden boxes. Again, this was only my experiences of attempting the best garden (most produce) I could get in the western hills of Alberta. That said... I think everyone should try as many techniques as they can-now is the time to test!
BUT, I like the tree idea. Sinking the bale. The tree would be protected by the mulch. Might even try that with the berry bushes!! Especially here from chinooks!
Good luck with your experiments!!!

Re: Bale Growing

Posted: Mon Jan 28, 2019 11:34 pm
by farmgal
Had to pop over when I saw that I had so many hits on the blog from this post..

Thanks for sharing the link Old School, feel free to share a post of mine if you think its within topic and useful..

Ok, so here is what I have learned about bale gardening so far in my years of trying..

Small Squares properly prepped and with unlimted water available (you can lay a soaker hose on them) will grow you the MOST amazing root veggies like carrots, parsnips, or burdock roots.. if you can't grow those in your normal soil.. Bale's will get it done.. but you must have lots of water, if you are short on water.. these are total water hogs.

The Large Round bales last years, coming into my sixth year of growing in them and they are still going, I expect to get a solid 10 years out of them.. but what is important to note, I set them up on a hugelculture bed to make that happen.. they are layered in a naturally wet spring area but on a light brush limb pile.. I really think this has had a great effect on the process.

The number one way I like to use round bales is to use them to create instant gardens, roll them out to the half way point, flip it and roll it back.. make a dip, create a planting hill and plant and go.. its outstanding! Love it.. a fast and easy way to give yourself massive squash, pumpkin or 3 sister type garden with little fuss/muss.

As for the idea of planting them in the ground.. I think you would be better off making a trench ditch for watering if that is the issue.. or digging your hole and just doing the bottom layers of a hugelbed and then filling and tamping your soil in and then planting your tree with good soil premixed with your compost. The rotted logs for the bottom layer is the best at holding moisture and doing a slow release.

If you can't get your hands on old wood to do this.. (NO fresh young wood will not work the same) then see if there is a sheep farmer in your area, and ask them for the off-cuts/dirty togs from shearing day and use the wool in and around the soil for when you plant.. the wool will wick in the water and hold it, swelling and then doing a slow release, it will also feed the tree as it degrades.

FG

Re: Bale Growing

Posted: Wed Jan 30, 2019 5:59 pm
by Danux
Hey, thanks for all the insight, everyone.
I had hoped that the bales would actually work like a sponge, allow me to water less, so that's good information to know. I am surprised to learn that root vegetables are the better choice for this style of growing, too, I would've thought the bale to be too tightly packed to let a root vegetable grow.
So, I guess I'll experiment where I have ready access to water, and learn what I can from the experience. I'd really like to try burying a bale as a way to get a sapling started, but will lack both the time and equipment this Spring, so that one will end up on the back burner.

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Re: Bale Growing

Posted: Wed Jan 30, 2019 6:53 pm
by farmgal
Hi Danux,

If you have a wet area that collects water each time it rains, and you can put your bales in there, then the bottom of the bale will help wick up the water, which can help with the amount of water needed. Works well on a normal year.. will not help at all with a dry/hot summer. You can grow other things in the bales, I just like how long, thick and straight the roots get using the bales.

Re: Bale Growing

Posted: Wed Aug 07, 2019 5:40 pm
by Nagol
I ran bale gardens for 3 years, tomatoes, squash, eggplant, carrots, peppers.
Worked very well, picked up bales for 1$ each, year old stuff that the farmer wanted to get rid of. After seasoning them, I got 3 years on the same bales before they were absorbed by the lawn.
Good production rates but fertilizer is needed if you plan to use whole bales and not the layering method.

I’ve decided to try the “Alaskan grow bucket” method this year. I got a very late start so I won’t know how well it really works until next year.

Re: Bale Growing

Posted: Mon Feb 24, 2020 7:27 pm
by Danux
As a followup, my bale experiment did not go well LOL. I just live too far north for any of the plants I grew to make it. They started OK, but the growing season is too short. I can do carrots in the ground, and I did potatoes in bags, but everything in the bales started, then stopped. Perhaps I should've gone with carrots...
Broke the bales down in late autumn, will let them settle into the beds and being composting, the plan is to grow potatoes in them this year. Ruth Stout to the rescue!

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Re: Bale Growing

Posted: Fri Feb 28, 2020 9:09 pm
by farmgal
Good to learn now, and or sure you can use them in the garden.. here is hoping for good grow season..