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Growing Vegetables In Straw Bales

Growing Vegetables In Straw Bales, January 2016
by Craig Lehoullier

Storey
96 pages
ISBN: 1612126146
EAN: 9781612126142
Kindle: B00Z8CZOF6
Paperback / e-Book
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"A useful guide for gardeners - with a difference!"

Fresh Fiction Review

Growing Vegetables In Straw Bales
Craig Lehoullier

Reviewed by Clare O'Beara
Posted February 17, 2016

Non-Fiction Gardening

I've grown fruit and veg, and I've handled plenty of straw bales in stables. So the prospect of combining them sounds useful and fun. Craig Lehoulier explains the hows and whys in this handy book GROWING VEGETABLES IN STRAW BALES. Straw is a good mulch as it keeps in warmth and moisture, breaks down into usable fibre and can provide some soil nutrients. Using the whole square bale as a growing medium apparently works a treat.

Heirloom tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, and cucumbers were among the plants Craig had success with during the first summer. This reduced the need for both pots and potting compost. Leeks, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and carrots were included in his next year's list; these did not grow well in his garden soil. Craig describes his methods in detail, which include a high-nitrogen feed, planting medium, a digital thermometer and water, but no digging. The bale is a higher surface than the ground, and clean of interloper plants, so there is less stooping and weeding.

Craig mentions that organic gardeners may be more fussy about the origin of the straw. Watering frequently is important as the straw drains well. Tall-growing plants like tomatoes will need a trellis. Hay bales can also be used, he adds, but they contain grass and flower seeds which may sprout. He warns of fertilisers not suitable for use in this case. (Also of snakes.) He provides sensible advice on placing the bales since they can be put on hard surfaces, and will look dilapidated at the end of the season. Craig gives the benefit of his own experiments and suggests keeping day-to-day notes so you can do better next year.

I especially like the line drawings with options such as placement or supports for plants. We can see how the simplest planting works and how this can be made more elaborate in further growing seasons, to minimise work and increase crops once a gardener decides they enjoy bale gardens. Everything from basil to beans, beetroot to garlic, sweet peppers and potatoes, does well in this system. Each type is discussed and the optimum conditions described; seeding versus seedlings, for instance. Succession planting, following one crop with another in the same year, makes best use of the bale. And after GROWING VEGETABLES IN STRAW BALES you are left with perfect mulch. Sounds ideal!

Learn more about Growing Vegetables In Straw Bales

SUMMARY

Straw bale gardening is an inexpensive, low-maintenance way to grow a bounty of food in a small space. All you need is a bale of straw, some fertilizer, and your favorite vegetable seeds! Craig LeHoullier's step-by-step instructions show you how to do everything from sourcing the straw and setting up your bale to planting, dealing with weeds and pests, and harvesting.


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