This is a journal of my vegetable gardens. Skippy was my first dog and he thought the garden was his, even though I did all the work. Now Suzie and Charley follow in his footsteps. We're located near Boston (USDA zone 6A). I have a community plot, a backyard vegetable garden, fruit trees, berry bushes, chickens, and bees. I use sustainable organic methods and do my best to grow all of my family's vegetables myself.

Monday, March 09, 2015

snow shoveling, chicken manure and straw bale planting

I have big plans for tomorrow (extreme plans?)

St Patrick's Day is eight days away and I hope to get a shovel into the soil and plant my peas on that day!

I'm going to shovel more snow from my pea bed. I'm pleased that snow removal is working pretty well so far. I think I need to shovel more snow from my garden paths too, so the sides of the bed get sun and help with soil warming.

I'll also clean out my chicken coop and lay the poopy straw down in part of the bed. Still don't know if this will insulate cold or create warmth so I'll only try this on part of the bed.

AND I have another plan too! Straw bale planting!!! A gardener at our community garden, Sarah, has used straw bales in her garden very successfully. She gave a presentation yesterday at our Garden Fair. Set down a straw bale, prepare (see below), throw some dirt on it and then plant seeds!!! No need to wait for soil to thaw. It takes 2 weeks to get the bales ready. I am SO excited to try this! Here's a photo of Sarah's Fair presentation.

strawbale gardening IMG_0529
To prepare straw bale: 1) Place straw bale, cut side up, on landscape fabric. 2) Sprinkle about a cup of fertilizer on the bale and water well for about 5 days. Then sprinkle another cup of fertilizer and water another 5 days. Sprinkle another half cup and water well. The straw bale will become warm at the center and begin to decompose. 3) Add soil to the top of the bale and plant seeds or seedlings.



Anonymous Matt said...

What a great idea with the straw. Talk about getting a head start! Thanks for the info and the pictures. Snow is much deeper in my neck of the woods, so Ill be waiting a bit longer.

March 10, 2015 7:19 AM

Blogger Daphne Gould said...

I've long since given up on the St. Patrick's Day pea planting date. I'm just hoping it won't be the middle of April. Though the snow is melting fast.

March 10, 2015 8:16 AM

Blogger Margaret said...

I'm planning on doing some straw bales this year as well, primarily for my squash. I already purchased some bales last fall - hopefully they will start to defrost soon.

March 10, 2015 10:58 AM

Blogger blueberry1946 said...

So interesting! Year's ago I followed the Ruth Stout method of continually adding hay to your garden as the plants grew, so the straw bale method has some similarities. Good luck and have fun with it!

March 10, 2015 1:05 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any recommendation on the type of fertilizer?


March 10, 2015 1:39 PM

Blogger Susie said...

I have been straw or hay bale gardening for a few years now and will continue to do so. I find it looks nice and seems to be just as easy as growing in a garden. Best of luck!

March 11, 2015 1:09 PM

Blogger kathy said...

I used our old Radio Flyer sled to drag a straw bale down to my garden yesterday. Lucky for me, it rained all night and soaked it well. Soon I'll start fertilizing it. I am figuring out now what is the best fertilizer to use for straw bales in an organic garden.

After the nice rain, I now have 3-4 inches of thawed soil and lots of nice mud in my pea bed.

March 11, 2015 10:27 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, I just checked my beds to see how well they are defrosting....I have two elevated beds which had canvas covers on all winter. Yesterday I switched the canvas for greenhouse covers. Today, the soil is defrosted to roughly a 3 inch depth. I have one 10 inch raised bed without any covering - the soil has defrosted roughly 1 inch. Lastly, all my other raised beds have a layer of straw, which I put on late last fall - and, although the straw is defrosted, the soil is still completely frozen. My take on this is that the straw is acting as an insulator. My plan is to remove the straw and add black plastic to the pea bed. Deb S

March 14, 2015 1:16 PM

Blogger kathy said...

That's cool Deb!!! I love being able to see comparisons.

March 14, 2015 3:10 PM


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