Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Straw Bale Gardening 101.1

On April 27 we set up our small straw bale garden.

I have no idea if it will work, but I'm using organic fertilizers in place of conventional fertilizers. The tricky part is that nobody can tell me for sure if I have made the correct adjustments. You see, if I did it the conventional way, I would use 1/2 cup of 32-0-0 per bale every other day for 6 days and then every day for 3 more days. The last day the recipe calls for 1 cup per bale of 10-10-10. Instead, I am using 4 different organic fertilizers in the hopes that between the 4 of them I can gain the high Nitrogen levels needed to condition the bales for growing vegetables.

Here's my recipe....

Every day for 14 days I the kids water the bales thoroughly.
Scratch that....SAM waters the bales - he's the perfect height and love having a job of his own.

Every day I sprinkle 4 cups of cow manure over the bales
Every other day 8 days I combine:
1 1/3 cups of 5-7-8 (Dr. Earth's)
1/2 cup 6-2-0 (Milogamite)
1/2 cup 10-10-10

I put all of these in a container, shake it up, and then sprinkle over the bales.

Days 9-14...1 cup of 10-10-10 per bale

What am I trying to accomplish with all this conditioning? Good question!

Adapted from my class handouts:

* process starts nitrogen "sink" reversal - hyper-decay
* begins by adding food (nitrogen)
* Bacterium and microorganisms
* Powered by nitrogen and moisture
* nitrogen and water, spark consumption of straw
* once started and going, the straw provides food
* decay process produces heat
* worms will thrive (worm castings are VERY good for growing)
* results are lovely nitrogen rich 'soil'

3 days down - 11 more to go!

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Kelly April 28, 2009 at 10:57 PM  

So I am fascinated and a bit frightened to find out exactly how one procures 4 cups of cow manure daily.

And exactly how one might go about "sprinkling" 4 cups of cow manure as well. ;)

This of course, coming from a city girl...

Kelly April 28, 2009 at 10:59 PM  

...And what kind of cup one uses to measure cow manure? The same cups used in baking? lol

I'm sorry I am having such a giggle at your gardening practices :)

You'll be the one laughing when you are blessed with the awesome garden in a few... weeks? ...months?

As you can see, this city gal sticks to simple watering of hydrangeas. Wouldn't want to get my hands dirty. ;)

(Pun fully intended)

MamaBear April 28, 2009 at 11:06 PM  

Well....I bought 3, 40 pound bags and I use a large plastic (DISPOSABLE) container to scoop it out. I start on one end of the bales one day and the other the next to help keep the distribution as equal as possible. It's very composted so it's fine and easy to sprinkle. The bags sit in my garage and surprisingly don't smell. We have a farmer in the family but the thought of transporting the stuff and storing it makes the cost of buying it WELL worth it. :)

How much does manure cost? $4.95 a bag.
Which is the best manure to use? Sheep
Why so much and why every day? It's the most affordable way to add lots of nitrogen.

Lucy and Ethel April 29, 2009 at 5:12 AM  

Can't wait to see how this works! It would be the most feasible way for us to have a garden. We've got big hopes for you!

I'm really glad to hear you get to use bagged manure....


Jenney April 29, 2009 at 3:56 PM  

Very intersting! I am doing a traditional garden minus any fertilizer. Everything is coming up that should be to date...so here's hoping. Keep us updated, I might try your method next year!

Ethan, Zach, and Emma's Mom April 29, 2009 at 9:06 PM  

Manure is WONDERFUL stuff. We always had a farmer-member of our church give us tons of it, right from his pile on his farm, to till right into our garden. Once the manure decays into dirt, it doesn't smell at all. :-)
This is so interesting--I'm so glad you're sharing this. I'm hoping to try it myself next year, after learning all about it from you!

Ethan, Zach, and Emma's Mom April 29, 2009 at 9:07 PM  

I meant that the manure had already decayed into dirt when it was put on our garden. Not fresh from a cow. You know what I meant. ;-)

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