Thursday, April 25, 2013

Straw Bale Garden Part II: Watering the Bales

straw bale garden--watering the balesStraw Bale Garden Part II: Watering the Bales:

In case you just joined us, we’re starting up a straw bale garden. I’ve decided to go with instructions provided by Washington State University. The first step is to wet the bales. Here’s what WSU suggests:
To start the process, keep the straw bales wet for three to four weeks before planting. If you would like to speed up the process, here is a recipe that works well.
Days 1 to 3: Water the bales thoroughly and keep them damp.

Days 4 to 6: Sprinkle each bale with ½ cup urea (46-0-0) and water well into bales. You can substitute bone meal, fish meal, or compost for a more organic approach.

Days 7 to 9: Cut back to ¼ cup urea or substitute per bale per day and continue to water well.

Day 10: No more fertilizer is needed, but continue to keep bales damp.

Day 11: Stick your hand into the bales to see if they are still warm. If they have cooled to less than your body heat, you may safely begin planting after all danger of frost has passed.
To make sure I keep the bales wet I’ve also installed soaker lines on a timer.
My straw bale garden is more water intensive than I would like, but I try not to let perfection be the enemy of the good. In the end the compost I make will help conserve water in the garden–at least that’s my theory.
Next step will be to add fertilizer in the form of blood meal (I’m puzzled by WSU’s suggestion of bone meal). More on that subject in three days.