*STRAW BALE GARDEN*
We have used some version of raised garden beds for over a decade and a half now at star date 14/Nov/2011. All things we promote are adaptions and like others who make actual money out of the written word they and we own no rights. Hugelkultur has happened along of recent times and incorporates more so than we have done all that time ago, of putting bulk large pruning etc.,. into the bottom of the bed(like hiding stuff we don't want to take to the dump) then adding growing medium over the top. So hugelkultur aka Hillculture is something we will do even more so in our new gardens 15 years on, we have the resources a pile of trees that are ready for legal burning in the future,(this happens a lot around here - should impress the climate worshippers hey?). So anyway we will be buying a noisy smelly chain saw to cut as much of this timber up that we can (the pile 2 meters high and about 6 meters long mostly trees)incorporate into these new raised beds which will be the height of the width of a sheet of corrugated roofing. In germany where Hügelkultur came from they also I think call raised beds Hügelbeets aka raised mound/hill beds.
Well here we are in a new home with no gardens! A blank pallet to start with, and with lots of things to do to the home ie... Put a pool in, a patio, a carport and the list goes on & on hey... sounds like good fun for an oldies like us hey lol?
We are about Organic Natural Gardening, making use of available resources, We are about recycling, re-using and conserving, you can do as little or as much as you like if you use a system like this to start out with. We do not pretend to grow prize winning or the biggest and best of show, what we do get is good quality food with no added imput from man-made chemicals or fertilisers. All our gardens and exotic food trees are watering almost exclusively with recycled water, we don't pretend that doing this is the absolute ideal but in our current climate of a very deep drought and not much rain you will at the very least have a head start in keeping plants alive and producing. We do also make our own laundry detergent, and no doubt those with scientific asperations or their own personnal barrow to push, can set up any sort of test and prove that what we do won't work, our come back is if it ain't working then how come we get more than what we can eat and give lots away?. We manage water Big Time, the bottom line is water MUST be used more than once, it's that simple and we achieve that nearly all the time.
Now let's get started on our organic straw bale garden:
Well I still need to get some good nutrient rich fresh vege's growing, while I work out where the 2 X 5,000+ gallon water tanks are going to go (we settled on one tank for now ). Where to put the food trees and whatever habitat trees I can grow, this is not acreage it is a 740 sq/mtr yard, on a corner block so the footpath almost equals the yard space. It's on the footpath that most of the habitat trees will be grown.
We did manage to get a comfortable home on the right sort of aspect land, keeping in mind that home design has nothing to do with efficiencies like natural comfort, but that's a whole 'nutha story hey?
This instruction will take you right through to harvest time.
So the minimum ingredients for my instant organic straw bale garden are as follows:
20 bags of mushroom compost, direct from the farm.
15 bales of spoilt pasture hay could also use straw or lucerne hay or sugar cane mulch as well.
So as can be seen the bales are set up to create the edges, so likely we will need more for mulching. Next I will apply dolomite lime at the required rate (the soil is acid sulphate fill sounds terrible hey?), of course we also need to add heaps of gypsum as there is a lot of clay in the fill, the bales need to pushed together as tightly as possible. The end bales define the width so they position inside the edge row. Lay all bales on their edge so the bale twine and the tie off know are reached from the outside parameter, this so later as the bales begin to rot the twine can be cut away
I'm using these ammendments even though the garden is a raised bed, this is to make the soil's climate more agreable to worms and other needed bacteria.
A pic of the gypsum, or dolomite/lime(only if acidity is an issue) will be the next stage of creating the straw bale gardens medium.
Something we didn't say yet the bales are only there to define the staw bale gardens parameter, we could have used other just as quick methods but with a little more toil so this is the selection.
The inside dimensions of the bed are: 1 meter wide and 5 meters long.
So here it is the 'dolomite' & 'gypsum' (realy can't understand the negativety about gypsum from US of A forums? ok not all clay's will respond, but for me i have never in all the different places we've lived had that experience, same as the ditty doing the rounds over there about digging a hole into clayey soil and it holding water and the plant getting water logged, again using gypsum and amnedments this is the method i use and the problem described has never happened!!) are spread and will be watered in:
Now the scrappy bits go in old cooked food from the fridge anything whatsoever:
The cardboard & paper(coloured glossy stuff and all, it's all fair game) goes in next(note that we lifted bales and tucked the cardboard under, you can lay cardboard/paper first then the bales whatever fits), that gets well watered as well to ensure water is trapped in those layers to start docomposition:
Next all the prunnings from the garden 'mock orange & roses etc.,. unwanted plants', there is much much more there yet so next time i will hire a shredder:
Ok ok every good gardener needs a helper hey that's me little bro', and yes me lovely was the boss come camera holder person.
Right now the gist of it all the mushy compost:
The mushy is broken up and raked out a bit and i emptied some dead potplant pots(not the plastic holders just the contents) we had into there as well, there may be some worms/worm eggs (you can have your composting worms in your garden so no need for a worm farm)in their to get the garden kick started?:
And the raked bed ready to go almost so the next time we come back will be to show the compost laid and the seedling in:
Ok here we go this pic' shows the bed has now been mulched (needed to use some sugar cane mulch to finish up with), so this has been watered to help settle it a bit. we used the bale of hay and our grandson to do some compacting of the mushy medium (there will still be lots of settling):
Just for the heck of it after i planted the following:- cabbages, broccoli, snake beans, cauliflower, silverbeet & tomatoes, we took this pic doesn't show much but here it is:
Ok ok so ya' can't see anything well where all the dark patches are there is a seedling.
So the final washup; 16 bales of hay (1 sugarcane mulch), 30 bags of mushy compost + other assorted stuff.
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