No Dig Garden with Straw Bales

Transform a concrete backyard into a producing vegetable patch

Straw bale gardening is a wonderful idea for those with small spaces, poor garden soil or no garden at all and is cheap and virtually foolproof. It needs no digging or weeding, minimal bending and watering, has no soil borne viruses and is ideal for the elderly and physically disabled. What a marvellous project for school holidays! It is a garden that can transform a concrete backyard into a producing vegetable patch.

All you need is a bale of straw; this can be baled field sugarcane straw or the compressed plastic wrapped lucerne or sugarcane mulch, a bag of Searles Herb and Vegetable mix and a small bag of dolomite.

Simply place the bale where it will get a good dose of sun, or in very light shade. Using a thick stick or a sharp instrument dig as many holes (about as big as a 140mm pot) as the bale can support and fill the holes with Herb & Vegetable mix. Sprinkle a handful of dolomite over the top of the bale, and then water gently so that the Herb & Vegetable mix and dolomite is not washed off.

The number of holes will depend on what you intend to plant, obviously tomatoes or cucumbers will need more room to grow in so the holes should be further apart. Stakes can be pushed into the straw to support plants which need support. I have filled my straw bale garden with lettuce, silver beet and oriental vegetables as they mature quickly and I will be able to replant the bale several times. Herbs are also great to grow with this method and can be companion planted to complement your vegetables e.g. tomatoes with basil and parsley with lettuce to deter insects.

Insert one seedling into each planting hole, burying it a little deeper than usual to compensate for any shrinkage that may occur as the soil settles. Water in well and keep moist by watering as required. Fertilise once a week with a solution of Searles Fish & Kelp Plus to promote healthy growth. On alternate weeks add a tablespoon of dolomite to the fertiliser to keep the straw ‘sweet’.

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