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Posts Tagged ‘Straw Bale Garden’

Planning My Straw Bale Garden

Aside from a small plot of sunflowers I planted in our backyard as a kid (which grew surprisingly well, now that I think of it), last year was my first year ever attempting a garden.

It grew mostly out of a whim – my mom mentioned she and my grandma had signed up for a class in learning how to make a garden out of straw bales. The idea intrigued me and I decided to give it a try; it ended up growing bigger and better than I ever would have imagined.

Last year's garden - lotsa Zucchini!

I had such success and enjoyed it so much that this year I’ve decided to expand.

We have the very good fortune of having our (relatively small) backyard back right up against a protected green space that essentially gives us a giant backyard for things like letting the dog roam, exploring nature and going for walks; because of that we don’t have huge need for our own backyard. And since we pretty much suck at mowing the lawn anyway, this year’s garden is going to be allocating most of the space we have available for growing.

My plan is to have 10 straw bales under cultivation; I’ll also be doing some container gardening on the deck and planting herbs in a small rectangle of the front yard as well as within the house. I’m tempted to try a vertical herb garden, but I don’t want to go into too much experimenting at once.

Last year the things I planted were pretty much determined by what was available at the grocery store garden centre – I didn’t have a lot of confidence in my abilities so made it easy on myself and bought plants that had already been started.

With a little bit more confidence (that hopefully is not premature) and a little more knowledge on the importance of organic, open pollinated seeds (along with a total lack of desire to give anything more to Monsanto than the inevitable), I’ll be starting all my plants this year from seed, both in the house and outside.

A few weeks ago we attended an organic seed exchange in a nearby city (where vendors were also selling seeds), and as exciting as it all was, I ended up going a little seed crazy – we came away with 26 little packets of potential. I had my husband hissing at me in a whisper, “Are you sure we’re going to have room for all these?Read the rest of this entry »

My Crunchy Wishes for 2012

I was driving, so Michele snapped these pictur...

Because it’s a new year, I’ve been thinking about all the things I’d like to have/do in 2012.

There’s nothing set in stone and I have no idea how much of it will actually come to pass, but there’s nothing wrong with a little wishlist, right? And if you can’t share your random thoughts and wishes on your blog, where can you share them?

So here goes…


The idea of living sustainably/independent of mainstream corporations, etc. is a hugely fascinating one for me (though it’s something I still have a looooong way to go on).

But in that spirit, here are some of the things I would like to own/do to began attaining that goal:

  • A dehydrator. I have dreams of making jerky, fruit roll-ups, etc. and keeping my family in healthy snacks at every need.
  • Canning supplies. Because my gardening efforts were such a success last year, I have big plans for expanding this year – and I want to be able to preserve all that yummy goodness! Of course, this will also involve learning how to can things without giving us all botulism.
  • An indoor herb garden (plus lots of herbs outside!). I planted sage, rosemary, thyme, parsley, lavender and mint last year. The sage and thyme are actually still growing (outside!) and I continue to use them frequently. Thus, I want to do bigger and better this year – and make sure to dry and preserve those herbs as well (I’m afraid I was pretty crap with that this past year). Now I just need to find some space inside that won’t be destroyed by my daughter/dog/cat. Hmm….
  • A juicer. My husband loves juice. And no matter how much I tell him how worthless it is and how much it’s all sugar and how it’s not even real even when it says it is, he persists in drinking it. So I would at least like to make him real juice. And I admit I wouldn’t mind putting together some veggie juice concoctions for myself. So this is one of the wants on our list.
  • More cast-iron/glass/stainless steel. We’ve begun the process of converting all our cooking stuff to these materials, but we’re not where I’d like to be. It would be great if 2012 could see us there!

As these are mainly all to do with kitchen/cooking/food stuff, I’ll throw in a few goals I’d like to put into action this year. We’ve had great success with going paper towel free and become pros at separating our garbage, compost and recycling, but there’s still a lot more we can accomplish.

I think the biggest problem continues to be waste – mainly in Ziploc bags and food. I’ve been pretty decent in the past with washing those bags out and using more reusable containers and planning meals so food doesn’t get tossed, but we started slacking big-time when I went back to work. I don’t want this downward spiral to continue, so it’s something that’s on my list to work on for 2012.

Continuing with the wishes… Read the rest of this entry »

Straw Bale Success!

Holy Zucchini!

Well, I think I can say in full confidence that our straw bale garden experiment has succeeded.

It took a few weeks longer to get them ready plant than I thought it would, my neighbors looked at me like I was bit crazy, and I had a month or so of worry about whether the whole thing was going to work or not after I invested my time and money…

But as you can see, it’s all paid off. :)

I have learned a few things as a newly budding gardener that I’ll be sure to remember for next time around: Read the rest of this entry »

I (Finally) Planted My Straw Bale Garden!

My Straw Bale Garden

My Straw Bale Garden

I’ve always wanted to have a vegetable garden, and this year I finally decided to do it – in spite of knowing nothing about gardening and possessing a grand talent of murdering houseplants.

What can I say? I’m ambitious.

Thanks to my mom, I decided to create a straw bale garden. She took a class in it and graciously shared all the info. with me.

It didn’t exactly start off as I hoped…

Here were my instructions, given by my mom from the class she attended, for conditioning the bales (something that should ideally take around 10 days)

Get a big bag (5-10 lbs) of the cheapest lawn fertilizer you can find with a high percentage WSN – Urea is good. Use 42-0-0. If the first number is higher, use less than 1/2 a cup; if it’s lower, use more. You can also use ammonium sulfate; potassium is OK.

If you’re doing organic, use an organic fertilizer base (which I did) – but you will need to use more – about 1 1/2 cups per bale – and it is more difficult to work into the bales. Human urine is great fertilizer for straw bale gardens.

To work the fertilizer into the bales, sprinkle it evenly over the top of each bale, take the spray end of the hose and spray water until it starts to come out of the bottom of the bales.

The schedule for conditioning is as follows: Read the rest of this entry »

A Garden Made of Straw

Welcome to the May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Growing in the Outdoors

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared how they encourage their children to connect with nature and dig in the dirt. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


Getting ready to garden...

Getting ready to garden...

A few months back I was talking to my mom on the phone when she excitedly told me she had signed up for a class in straw bale gardening.

Straw bale-huh?

Well, it turns out that you can make a garden out of straw bales (like hay bales, except straw), planting your veggies and such directly in (or on top of) the bales.

I was intrigued, so I decided to Google it and give it a go myself.

It’s supposed to be easier in some ways than a regular garden – no digging, not as much weeding or bending over…and since my thumb is far from being green I decided to go ahead and try it – easy is good, right?

I also have a strong desire for my baby Bean to know where her food comes from, and this is one way to contribute to that. I’m not sure how much she’ll understand as she won’t even be a year old until August, but I figure, the earlier, the better.

I have dreams of taking her to visit farms to see cows and chickens, going berry picking and apple picking, visiting farmers markets and other such field trips. I’ve heard stories of kids who have never even seen a cow and I’m determined that that will not be the case for my family!

Anyway, we were talking about gardening, right? Read the rest of this entry »

Sunday Surf on Monday

I really wanted to do a Sunday Surf yesterday (I’ve been reading so many amazing posts this week!) but I was just too tired from a crazy busy – but very fun – weekend.

Saturday I was at the home of relatives expecting their first baby very soon. They’ve been renovating an amazing old house for close to 5 years now (and doing an incredible job!) but with their own little bean on the way, things are shifting into high gear and they organized a work party to get some things taken care of.

So the husband and Bean had a daddy daughter bonding day and I did some painting!

It was a fun little switch, and it sounds weird but I feel so cool to have taken part in ‘flipping’ a house – small part though it was. :)

Mother’s Day dawned gorgeously – finally a day that was truly sunny and warm!

Husband made me breakfast (bacon and eggs – yum!) and then we went for a long walk to work off breakfast. When we got home Bean was ready for a nap and we noticed exactly how many weeds had sprung up in our little front yard garden over the past week, so we did a little yard work and made it all pretty.

I then got inspired and decided to mow the lawn, so the front and back yards actually look presentable for once (we moved here last summer when I was pregnant and I could count on my hand the number of times we got the lawn taken care of…I’m sure our neighbors will be happier this year lol).

I also got started on my straw bale garden! I probably should have begun before now, but life intervenes… Read the rest of this entry »

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