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Short on garden space? Plant in straw - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Short on garden space? Plant in straw

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

Here's a place you don't normally think of growing plants. A hay bale! This is actually a straw bale and there is a whole technique called straw bale gardening where you are growing plants literally on a bale of straw.

You want the bale to be straw not hay, because if it's hay, you are going to get all kinds of weeds and grasses germinating. But if it's straw, it will stay pretty clean.

The key with this technique is to condition your bale before you plant it. So for about two weeks you want to water it well every day and fertilize it. I use about 3 pounds of an organic fertilizer over that couple-week period, adding maybe a couple of cups every other day. By doing that you are stimulating the bale to start decomposing before your very eyes.

After that period, you can put a layer of compost and potting soil right on top, and you can plant your tomatoes and cucumbers, greens… you can do all kinds of things. The advantage to this technique is obviously that the bale is off the ground, so that you don't have rabbits or any animals coming after it. It has less insect and disease problems because it's nice and clean, and you don't have to weed anything. Who'd have thunk! No weeding!

It's still not too late to actually start this year if you want to start one and grow plants such as greens and cucumbers. Once you have them growing, you want to fertilize them every week or two with fish emulsion fertilizer, that will keep them growing really strong. It will keep the plant growing strong enough that it will start fruiting pretty soon.

Another nice thing about this is by the end of the season you will have a pile of almost decomposed compost, right there. You can spread it out on your garden for next year and next year you can get some more straw bales, and you do it all over again.

So straw bale gardening, a great way to garden in a small space without having to do a lot of work.

~By Charlie Nardozzi

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