One of the most frustrating things gardeners face is maximizing their garden space in order to accommodate all of their plants and flowers. This is further confounded if the garden itself has a limited area of tillable land or has poor soil conditions and most of the time, this can’t be helped. Because of this, gardening using hay or straw bales is fast becoming a popular way to garden that addresses these concerns.
Maximizing space, extending seasons
This alternative method of gardening isn’t actually new and has been around since the sixties, if not a bit earlier. The main draw of using straw or hay bales is that it maximizes gardening space. The straw bales, in effect, substitute for the ground on which the soil and the plant take root. This is particularly convenient if there’s absolutely no way to increase gardening space, such as in apartment complexes or if the space has been tiled over. It is even possible to plant directly on top of rocky and heavy clay soil that has poor drainage. The straw bale’s natural warmth also provides insulation to plant roots as it decomposes, potentially extending the growing seasons of plants.
Most gardeners hesitate to use straw bales since the hay itself decomposes as time goes by, but this is a hidden benefit that many overlook. The straw typically decomposes over one to two years and what remains is a natural compost that feeds the soil and improves plant growth. Placing the compost on top of new straw bales means that it isn’t even necessary to buy any compost at all, reducing overall gardening costs.
Aside from these benefits, planting on straw bales helps prevent pests and is virtually weed-free since they are raised well above the ground. Plants growing on higher or elevated structures are also a lot cleaner than their ground-dwelling counterparts.
The benefits don’t just extend to the plants. Since straw bales are raised well above ground, gardeners who may not be as physically fit anymore or have difficulty bending down no longer need to reach down to tend plants anymore. The height can even be increased, looking something like a mound, which means even those in a wheelchair can continue gardening. Straw bales aren’t also limited to being just an alternative to tillable ground; they can also be used as foundations for a garden’s fence posts, a more natural-looking boundary around a plot of land, and can even be used to build an entire gardening shed or house.
Straw bales aren’t just for farming; they are a very versatile material that makes gardening easier.