Saturday, July 23, 2016

Straw Bale Check-in

As I pick the first tomatoes from my straw bales, I take a look around at my bales this year. Some vegetables have worked better than others. Fellow gardeners suggested root crops which I tried but with which I had little success. What have always done really well are tomatoes. Yum! 

A more compact plant might be ideal but a good long stake right through the bale solves the problem of a large leggy tomato plant. I tie right to the stake but a tomato cage also helps a little.
Wow, this one has really taken over and is covered with tomatoes!

The bales are starting to look a little ragged as they decompose. It's very important to keep the bales watered in this July heat. They can dry out quickly. These bales have peppers and a little basil planted amidst the tomatoes. Sounds like ready-made spaghetti sauce!

I have limited sunny spots and have found that no matter how much care you give your tomatoes there is no substitute for sunshine. I am definitely planning some strategic pruning of the surrounding branches.

One of the surprise successes in the straw bales this summer are the green beans. As I think about it, it makes so much sense. Beans and other legumes fix nitrogen from the air into nodules on their roots. Straw bales need nitrogen in order to break down the organic material into usable nutrients for plants. It's a perfect pairing, Chard and kale have done well but are being crowded by the very healthy green beans!

Straw bales have been the perfect solution to our poor clay soil and a great deterrent to soil born diseases. I hope you're having great success with your own straw bales, as well. 

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