tedln
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2178
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 10:06 pm
Location: North Texas

Interesting things to try in the garden!

Have you ever tried anything interesting in the garden simply because you wondered how it would work? I do some things different every year. This year, I will be planting different crops in bales of straw lined up against the fence with a soaker hose on a timer to keep them moist. If it interests you, do a google search for growing in straw bales. It isn't a new technique, but it is new to me.

When I was a child of about eight, I gathered leaves from a variety of trees in our yard. I ground them into a fine powder by processing them through my mothers hand crank meat grinder. I added enough moisture to create a thick paste which I formed into cubes, cups, and balls. Sometimes I would add wheat flour or dirt to the mix. After the various shapes dried, I would rehydrate them and add a seed to each. The seeds would usually germinate, but then die quickly. Many years later I determined the leaves had a tannic acid content which quickly killed the seedlings.

What have you tried in the garden out of simple curiosity?

Ted
I simply enjoy gardening!

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27647
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Ted, so will you be applying high nitrogen fertilizer to your straw bales?
I looked into this technique and if you use straw bales, you have to overcome the high carbon content by using seriously high N -- manure or chemical.

You won't have this problem if you use HAY bales. In one of my web surfing forays, I came across a video clip of a news station's special report in which the interviewed "expert" specifically said you want to use HAY bales but the anchor mangled it in summing it up and ended up saying use STRAW bales. Either that or the news report was sponsored by Miracle Gro, Schultz, et. al. :wink:

Alternative is to use a mushroom spawn innoculated straw bale -- I can't recall if you have to pasteurize the straw bale first if you're not intending it as a pure mushrooms bed. You'll find various ingenious pasteurization methods on-line, usually involving 55-gal steel drums and boiling water or steam chamber.

Keep us updated on your experiment. 8)

User avatar
soil
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1855
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 1:40 am
Location: N. California

When I was a child of about eight, I gathered leaves from a variety of trees in our yard. I ground them into a fine powder by processing them through my mothers hand crank meat grinder. I added enough moisture to create a thick paste which I formed into cubes, cups, and balls. Sometimes I would add wheat flour or dirt to the mix. After the various shapes dried, I would rehydrate them and add a seed to each. The seeds would usually germinate, but then die quickly. Many years later I determined the leaves had a tannic acid content which quickly killed the seedlings.
sounds like you almost created your own seed balls, you messed up by using ground leaves instead of compost, even leaf mold would be better. but hey you were eight.
For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.

User avatar
jal_ut
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7480
Joined: Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:20 am
Location: Northern Utah Zone 5

Do you have some natural soil on your lot? My experience tells me that natural soils are better growing mediums than things we may invent.

Perhaps your straw would be of more benefit if you used it as mulch on your soil?

Most soils will benefit from the addition of organic matter. Organic matter is quickly depleted in soils due to the action of worms, insects, and the micro-bio community.

What is your soil like?
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

tedln
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2178
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 10:06 pm
Location: North Texas

At the age of eight, I didn't have a compost pile. Heck, I didn't even have a garden. I just wanted to experiment with things and find out what works and what doesn't. If my mother was still living she would gladly tell you about some of my electrical experiments. I think I almost scared her to death a few times. That was back in the days when houses still had those screw in electrical fuses with the glass on top so you could look inside and see if the fuse link was burned. My parents bought those things by the box full because I was always blowing a fuse.

Apple, I am going to treat the straw bales with fertilizer, but I am going to use a lower nitrogen concentration over a longer period. I don't want to get the bales so hot they smoke. I will take a photo of my setup. I'm going to pick up the bales tomorrow. I'm trying to decide if I want to enclose the bottoms of the bales in plastic. Most folks who do that use hand watering daily. With the soaker hose on a timer, I think I can keep the bales moist. I want the bales to be open to the soil so earth worms can move into the bales.

Ted
I simply enjoy gardening!

tedln
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2178
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 10:06 pm
Location: North Texas

jal_ut wrote:Do you have some natural soil on your lot? My experience tells me that natural soils are better growing mediums than things we may invent.

Perhaps your straw would be of more benefit if you used it as mulch on your soil?

Most soils will benefit from the addition of organic matter. Organic matter is quickly depleted in soils due to the action of worms, insects, and the micro-bio community.

What is your soil like?
Yep, I have a few acres of natural soil. My problem is the fact that if I row cropped, I would never have found out how well raised beds work. If I don't try the straw bales, I will never know how well they work. I'm just trying to satisfy my curiosity Jal. I don't really need anymore gardening space, but it is fun to try things. If they work, great. If they don't work, that is also great. At least I will know.

Ted
I simply enjoy gardening!

User avatar
jal_ut
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7480
Joined: Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:20 am
Location: Northern Utah Zone 5

OK. Good luck. Please take good notes and report. :)
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

User avatar
cherishedtiger
Green Thumb
Posts: 339
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2010 5:10 pm
Location: Sacramento, California

I think everything I have tried in my garden has been interesting... taking 2-3 peoples ideas and meshing them together... needless to say its left me with too much I want to grow and not enough space.

Still learning and so everything is new... cant wait for this spring as I have so many ideas!! One of which actually consists of using hay bales as sides to a raised bed. Just filling in the middle with dirt/compost etc. May give that a shot if I can find hay bales cheap enough...
Because all things need to be cherished
*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
USDA zone 8A (guess it changed... not sure why I was a 9!)

tedln
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2178
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 10:06 pm
Location: North Texas

cherishedtiger wrote:I think everything I have tried in my garden has been interesting... taking 2-3 peoples ideas and meshing them together... needless to say its left me with too much I want to grow and not enough space.

Still learning and so everything is new... cant wait for this spring as I have so many ideas!! One of which actually consists of using hay bales as sides to a raised bed. Just filling in the middle with dirt/compost etc. May give that a shot if I can find hay bales cheap enough...
I was thinking of doing the same thing except I was going to push bales together into the shape of a raised bed and then put six or eight inches of compost on top of the bales. I planned on planting the plants in the compost and allowing the roots to grow down into the bales. I understand the bales last about two years and can then be incorporated into the soil which is then placed on top of new bales. I've read posts by people who use the bales as the frame for their raised beds as you plan on doing. I've also read of people using them as the walls for a cold frame and for a compost pile. The good thing is the fact that when everything is finished, the leftovers all go into the compost pile and will be used.

I believe if I was just starting my first garden, I would first grow a traditional garden in the soil or in raised beds or in containers. When you are experimenting with things which are new to you, the probability of failure is pretty high. That would leave you without a garden. You always need to have a fall back plan so the season isn't a total waste.
Ted
I simply enjoy gardening!

User avatar
farmerlon
Green Thumb
Posts: 671
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 4:42 pm
Location: middle Tennessee

cherishedtiger wrote:... May give that a shot if I can find hay bales cheap enough...
Or, you can even make your own "hay" bales from your lawn/grass cuttings (if they're not chemically treated and if you have enough grass). :)

tedln
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2178
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 10:06 pm
Location: North Texas

farmerlon wrote:
cherishedtiger wrote:... May give that a shot if I can find hay bales cheap enough...
Or, you can even make your own "hay" bales from your lawn/grass cuttings (if they're not chemically treated and if you have enough grass). :)
I can't begin to imagine how to bale my lawn grass clippings as tightly with wire in rectangular bales similar to straw bales. It is a good idea, but I think I will just keep adding the lawn clippings to the compost pile. :D

Ted
I simply enjoy gardening!

garden5
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3062
Joined: Fri Aug 07, 2009 9:40 pm
Location: ohio

Ted, that sounds like a really great experiment! Do be sure to keep us updated. I want to try gardening in beds this year....maybe not raised-beds, but just individual patched of ground that I won't be tilling and then stomping down walking around in.....and then cultivating again.

I've tried planting my single-block garden densely, but I end up compacting the soil all around the plants since I have to step in-between them. As a result, I have to loosen it regularly....and this is all withing inches of the plant stem.

After getting a better understanding of soil microbes and biology, I think I would get better results by planting just as densely, but it individual beds that are not tilled or walked in.

Have you found them to be more productive than a large patch of garden?
There's something new growing in the Helpful Gardener Forum! Become a part of it here!

thanrose
Greener Thumb
Posts: 720
Joined: Fri Oct 16, 2009 2:01 pm
Location: Jacksonville, FLZone 9A

My whole life has been a series of, "Guess I won't be doing that again!" moments. Not just gardening, either. I figure I serve as a warning to others if nothing else.

Hmmm. Kitty litter clay pellets to make very sandy soil hold more water: not such a good idea when the clay breaks down and clumps as a wet mass on your shovel a year or more later. Surplus of broken glass as filler when making concrete pavers: not so good when you want to move the pavers. Burying a massive vandalized concrete and cinder block barbecue because you can't break it up and can't drag it off for disposal: causes problems when you want to put in a pool. Planting a lovely hackberry sapling five feet from your kitchen water leach bed: buttressed roots loved it, but didn't help the drain field a bit. Planting things in old milk jugs: okay for short term, but they tend to crumble and crack if they're over a year in the pot. Palm fronds on the compost pile: keep the compost cool and bone dry. Planting spanish bayonet anywhere: do you have any idea how one dangerous plant can turn into a small army of lacerating, puncturing evil in ten years or less?

Of course, there's a good bit of serendipity, too. I still think I have a good chance of making the Darwin Awards someday.

User avatar
microcollie
Green Thumb
Posts: 319
Joined: Fri Jun 04, 2010 9:17 pm
Location: Western MA

I think it would be interesting to sit in my garden with a glass of wine, with nothing better to do than kick my feet up and relax. Perhaps even give myself a pat on the back and say "Job well done!" I've strived for that every year for the past few decades, and have yet to find the time.

tedln
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2178
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 10:06 pm
Location: North Texas

microcollie wrote:I think it would be interesting to sit in my garden with a glass of wine, with nothing better to do than kick my feet up and relax. Perhaps even give myself a pat on the back and say "Job well done!" I've strived for that every year for the past few decades, and have yet to find the time.
That for me always seems like the reward at the end of the quest. I just didn't know the quest was never ending.

I go out and look at my garden every morning. It is nothing but bare soil inside my raised beds. Other than a few onions and some lettuce, nothing is growing, but I still am able to compile a list of four or five things I should do each day. By the end of the day, I think I can't find anything else that needs my attention, but the next morning, as I sip my coffee and look at the dirt, I put another list together in my mind.

The quest never ends.

Ted
I simply enjoy gardening!

tedln
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2178
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 10:06 pm
Location: North Texas

Here is a photo of the beginning of my straw bale bed. I've already started the nitrogen treatment of the straw. I will do that for a couple of weeks and then let the bales sit until mid March and hopefully begin decomposing in the center.

[img]https://i291.photobucket.com/albums/ll308/tedln/2011%20Garden/IMG_2688.jpg[/img]

This is a photo of my garden as it looks today. It kinda resembles Guantanamo Bay prison when nothing is growing. Since I am primarily a vertical gardener, it looks pretty good when everything is covered with veggies. I erected the eight foot tall tomato trellises for the spring garden to keep the tall tomato plants from sprawling all over the place in the fall.

[img]https://i291.photobucket.com/albums/ll308/tedln/2011%20Garden/IMG_2685.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i291.photobucket.com/albums/ll308/tedln/2011%20Garden/IMG_2687.jpg[/img]

Ted
I simply enjoy gardening!

User avatar
The Bearded Farmer
Senior Member
Posts: 105
Joined: Sat Oct 02, 2010 12:23 pm
Location: Laureldale, PA zone 6/7

That is one of the coolest smaller gardens I've seen in a while. You should start a thread and keep everyone updated on the progress.
Sunny Suburbia Garden
Eastern PA
Zone 6/7

tedln
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2178
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 10:06 pm
Location: North Texas

The Bearded Farmer wrote:That is one of the coolest smaller gardens I've seen in a while. You should start a thread and keep everyone updated on the progress.
Thank You! I don't know about cool, but it looks pretty ugly to me when everything is bare. I looks good when everything is growing and producing. I always post a lot of photos of the garden when it is producing. I don't try to show the garden as much as I try to show the produce. I usually try to grow some unusual things along with the normal produce. I usually post photos of those things.

If you are interested, you can go to my photobucket albums page and look at some of my past gardens. It has changed a lot with new beds and stuff over the years.

https://s291.photobucket.com/albums/ll308/tedln/

Ted
I simply enjoy gardening!

User avatar
jal_ut
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7480
Joined: Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:20 am
Location: Northern Utah Zone 5

I enjoyed looking at your pics. Nice arrangement. I especially like the fence to keep the critters out.

Right now my garden is just a field of white.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

tedln
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2178
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 10:06 pm
Location: North Texas

Jal,

It is meant to keep only one critter out. My big Labrador likes to harvest his own veggies. Now he has to stay out of the garden and just bark at me.

Last year we had eight of those white outs. So far this year, none. No telling what the next couple of months will bring. I was in the garden earlier today and I still have some grasshoppers jumping around. We have had a few freezes below 20 degrees F. I thought that was supposed to kill the grasshoppers.

Oh well, live and learn.

Ted
I simply enjoy gardening!

DoubleDogFarm
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 6113
Joined: Mon Mar 29, 2010 3:43 am

Ted,

To me your place looks like a play ground. :D Over here the Monkey bars, and here the Swings. etc.. I actually like it, well done.

Looks like you decided to use plastic on your bale experiment or is it weed barrier? I'm thinking the bottom of the bales will become soggy. Didn't you say you wanted the worms to infiltrate? I thought that was a great idea.

Here is a picture of my ugly garden. Second round this year. Can I say I hate this shtuff. :twisted:
[img]https://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h300/eric_wa/DSC03066.jpg[/img]

Eric

wordwiz
Green Thumb
Posts: 331
Joined: Fri Dec 10, 2010 9:44 pm
Location: Cincinnati

Ted,

I think they just hibernate. Years ago, I had a job delivering beer and hanging up lights and signs (for PBR). Loaded up the fan one winter day, took off on a trip. Looked the rear view mirror and saw several wasps flying around. They had nested in the cardboard and when the van warmed up, they woke up.

Saw something similar a couple of years later. Wasps had built a nest under an eaves. We had a huge snowfall and the temps plummeted into the negative area. But it was a very sunny day and the sun hit the snow at a perfect angle to reflect it to the nest, warming it up. The wasps woke up and decided it must have been spring, so they left the nest. Once they were outside the "heat zone" and into the -5 temp, they hit the ground and either froze or went back to sleep!

Mike

tedln
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2178
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 10:06 pm
Location: North Texas

Thanks Eric!


I love the look of your garden under a blanket of snow. It looks peaceful and resting. All you need to enhance the photo is a cabin in the background with smoke from the fireplace rising into the gray sky. It would make me want to wrap a quilt around me and sit reading a book and sipping my coffee.

I haven't made my mind up on the plastic. I installed it while I am doing the nitrogen treatment. I don't want all the nitrogen running out the bottom before it does it's job. I have a couple of months before the bales will be planted and I will probably remove the plastic at that time. I wouldn't expect the worms to migrate into the bales until the soil temp increases. Right now they are staying about 6" below the soil surface.

Wordwiz,

Every day the temp exceeds 70 degrees, the wasps and house flies come out. I know the wasps hibernate in little nooks and crannies waiting for warm weather. The house flies just emerge from the maggots in cow manure and horse manure in the pastures around me. When it freezes again, they die. Grasshoppers may hibernate, but normally they are killed by cold weather. They usually lay their eggs in the soil in the fall and the next generation emerges when the soil temp warms up in the spring. I think we just need an extended freeze to kill all of them. So far, we have only had freezing temps for a few hours during a few days. Two or three days of freezing weather should do the job. I hope!

Ted
I simply enjoy gardening!

Return to “Vegetable Gardening Forum”