I’ve talked about gardening for a long time, basically since moving out of my parent’s house nigh near ten years ago. But I’ve lived in a lot of apartments with little or no outside space, or space that got no direct sunlight. And with cats, indoor gardening is a tough sell. I can make the plants grow but they get nibbled down to stubs long before they are harvestable. This year is different. This year I committed myself to growing more than a couple pots of tomato plants. This year I’m using straw bales.
Straw bales gardening is like raised bed gardening with less work. You basically soak some straw bales throughly with water and a touch of organic fertilizer, wait a week or so, and start cutting holes in it to place your seedlings. The seedlings grow using the decomposing straw as a substrate. The straw’s decomposition creates warmth making your garden into the micro-est of micro-climates and encouraging warm weather growth in cool weather conditions. The straw bales also retain moisture well and require less water to remain moist, a feature I especially appreciate since I water my garden with a bucket I fill in my bathtub and haul out to the backyard. The fewer trips I have to make the better!
This is what my newly planted garden looks like.
There’s little cucumber shoots visible along the back of the first two bales and a little further on you can see pea shoots. The dark lines down the closest two bales are coffee grounds and potting soil that I used to help hold down lettuce and carrots seeds that I sowed directly into the bales. I didn’t want the seeds to migrate so deeply into the bales as I watered them that they’d never see the light of day again so I used the coffee grounds/potting soil mix as a sort of putty to fill in the cracks long enough for them to sprout. This picture was taken about ten days ago right after I planted everything and they just started sprouting today.
Here is a close up of the pea sprouts, a noble set of seedling that survived repeated bouts of cat chomping.
Though nearly all the pea sprouts recovered from their adventure with Henry, the bean sprouts did not. The upper left hand corner of the picture shows the only two of two dozen sprouts to survive. I’m sure they will produce the most delicious beans though, now that they’ve endured the worst of their trials.
So far our garden has been chugging along in exactly the way it was promised to. As it fills out and starts producing I’ll update here accordingly.