Let’s talk about hay vs straw. I am attempting to garden with hay. Let’s take a look at the pro and cons of gardening with hay or straw. These forage are an excellent alternative to raise bed gardening. It takes a whole season to prep so if you are going to use one of these forages as a gardening bed prep ahead of time.
What is hay bale? Hay bale is the entire dried up plants like legumes, alfalfa, beans, and wheat wrapped together tightly for animal consumption. For cattle grazing, horse, goats, and sheep. It’s also for guinea pigs and rabbits. It’s animal food per se.
- Hay has mineral rich content.
- When using as mulch it gives more nutrients to the soil and makes it more fertile.
- Livestock food during the winter months.
- Great in composting.
- When using as mulch it has seeds and it will grow.
- More expensive I would think.
- When using as composting the seeds will sprout
What is Straw bale? Straw bale is left over dried up wheat, grass, clovers, rice, and oats. Same as hay bale except that all the nutrients are taken out of it.
- Good for mulching.
- Fewer seeds.
- Great for composting because no seeds no weeds win-win.
- Animal bedding.
- Too dry so it’ll be too stiff.
- Little or no nutrients.
- Not for live stock grazing.
Square Bale Gardening
So I have both straw bale and hay bale in my back yard. I will be using them as raised bed for my cilantro and beans. Guys and gals, boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen, this is my first attempt so please bear with me as I go through this journey of a new way to garden.
The bales were giving to me by a friend and he has no use for it. My husband told him that we have chickens and baby tortoise and will be using it as bedding. However, summer began and It has been sitting out there in the heat for a couple of months. We still had wood chips for the chicks and now chickens don’t need it anymore.
I have set the bales outside in the summer heat hoping that the high heat will dry up the seeds from the bales and if I do plant some vegetables the original seeds will not sprout. I can hope right. If not I’ll just pick the weeds out.
First plan ahead if you are going to bale garden. It takes a season to do so. Depending on which bale you use prepping is the same. This is my way. Because of the soil I have I’m going to use bales. Since, I am experimenting I will use one of each to experiment with and hopefully be successful.
- Set the bale where it gets water almost with every time you water your garden or on a sprinkler system or even a dripper.
- Don’t cut the wrap unless you want it part of your garden as mulch.
- When it’s time add garden soil on top of the bale just to hold moisture and prep for the seeds you are going to use.
- Once the top layer, maybe about 3″ inch is ready spread some seeds
How do you know when is ready? You will know when it is ready if you had them sitting over a season, it should already be ready.
This is the exciting part. Use whatever seeds you want to start. I am going to use cilantro and dragon’s tongue beans. My mom has told me that they grow ginger in bales and it works great. I will be using the loose hay to experiment with that idea as well. Like I said this is my first attempt at using bales as gardening. So I hope it goes well and if it doesn’t I know I’ll use the bales for something else like mulch and composting.
Happy Growing and Conclusion
Okay so if anyone of you out there used square bales as gardening and have or had success with it please share them with me. I love to see how everyone’s doing. Share your garden pictures with me.
Which ever bale you chose to use I hope that I gave you an idea to use and plant your seeds. Happy success growing y’all. I’ll see you all in the next post.
In the USA we do not have circular bales. However, if you have them I would guess to laying it flat side and using use the flat side of the circular side.
Go take on the day and challenge the unknown.