Creating A Hay Bale Garden
A hay bale garden have the advantage of being temporary, inexpensive containers for flowers or vegetables. There are several ways to create a hay bale garden. Start conditioning the bales 12 to 14 days before planting. Spread 1/2 cup of nitrogen-rich fertilizer such as 15-10-10 over the top of the bale. Water the bale deeply. Fertilize and water the bale every other day. On the “off” days, water the bale deeply but do not add fertilizer. The bale will become hot as the straw begins to compost, but the straw should cool down and be ready for planting by the 12th or 14th day. Sprinkle 1 cup of a balanced granular fertilizer with a ratio of 10-10-10 or 12-12-12 over the top of the bale on the final day, when the bale is cool. Water deeply. Cover the bale with a 3- to 5-inch layer of a mixture of half commercial potting soil and half compost when you are ready to plant. Although applying the soil and compost mixture isn’t absolutely necessary, adding mixture prevents the bale from drying out quickly during warm weather. Water the bale with a fine spray to avoid washing off the soil.
Spread the bale to create a hole, then place your plants in the hole. It doesn’t matter how deep you plant, as long as a portion of the green, leafy part of the plant extends above the straw. Nearly any plant will grow in a hay bale garden, but avoid tall plants such as corn because the plant can become top heavy and destabilize the bale. Water the hay bale garden regularly and keep the straw moist but not dripping wet. Pull any weeds that appear.