Hay Bale Gardening: The “no work” gardening

Hay bale gardening is a low maintenance way of growing your own produce and herbs, and guarantees to put the fun back into gardening.

In the search for the easiest and simplest gardening method, you’ll find hay or straw bale gardening pop up time and time again. This involves using hay or straw bales instead of soil. You’ll be using the entire bale as it is, tied with twine.

The method is simple: plant seeds or seedlings directly onto bales of straw. As the season progresses, the straw breaks down into virgin soil, which then nourishes the plants from inside the bale.

Two kinds of bales can be used: straw bales and hay bales. But how are these two kinds of bales different? Here’s the hoedown:

  • Straw bales are plant stalks, usually leftover stalks from harvesting grains like barley, oats, rye, and wheat. These stalks are dried and baled—compacted and tied together into bulks.
  • Hay bales, on the other hand, are dried grasses that have been compacted and tied together.

Mark David from EndAllDisease concludes that hay bales are far superior to straw bales. Why?

  • All natural – There is a possibility that some straw bales are made from genetically modified plant matter. Plant stalks like corn or soy may be spiked with chemicals to enhance plant growth and keep it pest-free. Would you want your own herbs and produce growing in decomposing genetically modified plant matter? Most likely not.
  • Less watering – Hay holds water more effectively than straw. So instead of watering your hay bale garden 2-3 times a day, you’ll only need to do it once.
  • Less fertilizer needed – When you use hay bales for gardening, the compost that forms within the bale that feeds the plants is a form of nutrition, which also serves as an organic fertilizer. You’ll still need to put in a bit of fertilizer when preparing your hay bales before planting, but after that, your plants wouldn’t need it.

One major advantage of hay bale and straw bale gardening method in general is that the whole bales provide a raised bed which makes it easier to work with especially for gardeners with arthritis or back problems. It also keeps predators away. It’s been called a “no work” gardening method since the bales basically do most of the work for you. You only need to put your plants into the bales, and with minimum maintenance, you’ll reap the fruits of your “no work” gardening.

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