Straw Bale Gardening

I have been a huge Square Foot Gardening fan for many years but my wife recently turned me on to a new gardening method called “Straw Bale Gardening” she learned about online from sites like Pinterest and Garden Web.  I was super resistant to trying it out as we have always had such great results with the Square Foot method and probably would have never got around to trying it out if it wasn’t for Bethany.  I was traveling for work one week in early 2016 and when I came home Bethany had completely set up a straw bale garden in our backyard.  This post documents the entire process with pictures and even a time lapse video.

Bethany ordered the Straw Bale Gardening book off of Amazon and then she just followed the steps exactly as outlined in the book.

She picked up the wheat straw bales locally from Cherokee Feed and Seed but you can find them at most any large garden center store.  The book stresses the importance of preparing the bales.  One of the steps includes a recommendation to sprinkle milorganite on top of the bales and water the particles of milorganite into the bales with a heavy watering each day for the duration specified in the book.

Bethany was faithful to this process and I believe its part of the reason we had such great results.

While Bethany was working on getting the bales ready she had me working on the automatic watering system and the vertical growing hardware.  I ran a hose from the house down towards the garden.  I then connected an Orbit Automatic Watering System to the end of the hose and then a network of soaker hoses to the timer.

For the vertical growing I installed twenty 7 foot Green Studded Tee Fence posts.  I then took 2x4s and cut a small notch in the top of each side using a circle saw.  I pulled the notches down on top of the fence posts.  To keep the boards in place I drilled a small hole several inches from each end and then ran a wire through the hole and tied the end of the board to the top of the fence post.  The book shows this in detail if you’d like to see an example.

Once the bales were prepped and the soaker hose and vertical gardening hardware were in place we planted a large variety of vegetables and melons.  We planted some crops from seed we purchased from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company and some from transplants we picked up from our local greenhouse & nursery.

Here is a list of what  we planted:

  • Watermelon
  • Cantaloupe
  • Thai Purple Long Beans
  • Pole Beans
  • Edamame
  • Pumpkins
  • Gourds
  • Squash
  • Zucchini
  • Tomatoes (many varieties)
  • Okra
  • Strawberries
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Peppers (many varieties)
  • Cabbage
  • Cucumbers
  • I’m sure I’m forgetting some things

Beautiful day in the garden

A post shared by Anthony and Bethany (@wholesteading) on

Everything grew extremely well and we had wonderful harvests on almost a daily basis once the garden was established.  Here is an example of just one day’s harvest:

You can check out our Instagram feed for more pictures of the garden and examples of things grown in the bales.  We also captured a time lapsed video of our Straw Bale Garden growing:

We are in the process of preparing this year’s garden now.  We will try to capture better pictures this year and we will move the time lapse camera closer to the garden this season.

We had a great time learning this new approach to gardening and we are happy to answer any questions you have about Straw Bale Gardening.  Please leave a reply with your questions and comments.  Thanks! Anthony

4 thoughts on “Straw Bale Gardening”

    1. I think it was the milorganite. It has a smell when you first put it down and I think it was enough to keep the deer away. We had no fence, no other chemicals, etc…and every morning we would see deer over on the other side of the backyard but they never ventured near the garden.

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