tedln
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Wheat Sprouts!

I recently posted the following photo to show what I am playing with in straw bale gardening. I've been treating the bales with high nitrogen fertilizer to expedite decomposition in the center of the bales. I am now suddenly getting a bonus crop of fresh wheat sprouts. The top of the bales looks like of one of those things you see advertised on television where herbs grow out of the top of a clay head when they are watered. I pulled a few of the sprouts to taste. They are really good.

I'm thinking about digging a 4' X 8' hole in the ground about 12" deep next year. I will fill the hole with straw bales leaving the bales sticking out of the ground about 6". They should have the general appearance of a raised bed garden. I would treat the bales with fertilizer and grow wheat sprouts all winter, planting some veggies in it in the spring. It's just a thought, but it sounds interesting.

I'll post a photo of my bonus crop when the bales are completely covered.

Ted

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soil
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i wonder how much wheat you would get out of it if you let it go to seed.
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soil wrote:i wonder how much wheat you would get out of it if you let it go to seed.
I wouldn't expect good seed production because the sprouts are bunched too tightly. I think each plant would need a little more room to be productive.

Ted
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Congratulations on your free sprouts, DDF. One of the great things about experiments is that sometimes you will discover things you would have never thought of.

One thing you could try is to bury your bales par ways and then layer some dirt on top of them as well. This would probably aid in decomposition and would allow the plants to get established in standard soil and then the roots would break through to the straw.

Maybe you could do a side-by-side test with half of the bed like this and the other half exposed and see which does better, but hey, it's your experiment :).

Keep us updated.
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Re: Wheat Sprouts!

tedln wrote:... I've been treating the bales with high nitrogen fertilizer to expedite decomposition in the center of the bales. I am now suddenly getting a bonus crop of fresh wheat sprouts. ...
I am curious, what are you using for a "high nitrogen fertilizer"?

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Re: Wheat Sprouts!

farmerlon wrote:
tedln wrote:... I've been treating the bales with high nitrogen fertilizer to expedite decomposition in the center of the bales. I am now suddenly getting a bonus crop of fresh wheat sprouts. ...
I am curious, what are you using for a "high nitrogen fertilizer"?
I didn't tell the whole truth. It is recommended that you use an ammonium nitrate or sulphate at around 27% N with weekly applications for three weeks. I actually used inexpensive 13/13/13 with more frequent applications followed by soaking the bales with water. I wanted more minerals than the nitrate or sulfate provided.

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tedln
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Garden5,

I wouldn't classify this as an experiment because other people have done it before me. The only real question is "can I do it?". Many of my "experiments" actually educate me a little. Most however, only provide a good laugh when they totally flop. I've been a gardener for many years, but every year; I try to look at it as a beginner and allow myself to be surprised.

Ted
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Re: Wheat Sprouts!

tedln wrote:... I actually used inexpensive 13/13/13 with more frequent applications followed by soaking the bales with water. ...
Do you have any concerns about those Wheat Sprouts being excessively high in nitrates, and therefor being unhealthy to consume?
I suppose the high-carbon straw would "use up" a lot of that nitrogen.(?)

Personally, I would have second thoughts about consuming something that grew in the midst of "frequent" 13/13/13 applications ... but, maybe I take the whole "organic thing" a bit too far? :?

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Re: Wheat Sprouts!

farmerlon wrote:
tedln wrote:... I actually used inexpensive 13/13/13 with more frequent applications followed by soaking the bales with water. ...
Do you have any concerns about those Wheat Sprouts being excessively high in nitrates, and therefor being unhealthy to consume?
I suppose the high-carbon straw would "use up" a lot of that nitrogen.(?)

Personally, I would have second thoughts about consuming something that grew in the midst of "frequent" 13/13/13 applications ... but, maybe I take the whole "organic thing" a bit too far? :?
Nope! Not Worried. I haven't added any fertilizer in a week. I won't be adding any more. I think the straw has enough. I always pressure spray the fertilizer deep into the bales where it can do the most good aiding the decomposition of the straw. I'm sure some of the residue remains near the surface, but it doesn't concern me. I try to make things as organic as possible, but I'm not a purist about it. I know a lot of folks who will only use compost in their gardens, but they will speed up the compost by adding a lot of nitrate fertilizers to the compost pile. I know others who lecture their garden club about "growing organic" right after watering their garden with chlorinated, fluoridated tap water. I don't think you can take the "organic thing" too far. I just think everyone has to decide for themselves how far is "far enough".

Ted
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Congratulations on your free sprouts, DDF. One of the great things about experiments is that sometimes you will discover things you would have never thought of.
Hello?


Eric

tedln
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DoubleDogFarm wrote:
Congratulations on your free sprouts, DDF. One of the great things about experiments is that sometimes you will discover things you would have never thought of.
Hello?


Eric
It's okay Eric. She just thinks if the post is good, you must have posted it.

Ted
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Ted,
It's okay Eric. She just thinks if the post is good, you must have posted it.

Ted
Now that's funny. :D or have I just been insulted. Hmm :P

Ted have you noticed any mycelium? I bought a bale of hay about two weeks ago. It's been on the ground, in the mud, out in the rain. When I cut the twine, it was hot inside and full of white threads.

Eric

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DDF, Ted, sorry about that :oops:. I knew/know the difference between you two, but I was looking at Ted's avatar and for some reason "Double Dog" came to mind.

Both of you guys are great posters!
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Eric,

Nope, no mycelium. The whole point of what I am doing is to get the decomposition and heat started in the center of the straw bales. You did say yours is a hay bale and I would imagine some difference exists between it and a straw bale. Fresh hay retains a lot of green in the center for a long time. Wheat straw doesn't have any green in it. I don't know what your intent was with your hay bale, but it isn't good for animal feed after it starts "spoiling". It would work well in your compost though.

Ted
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tedln
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garden5 wrote:DDF, Ted, sorry about that :oops:. I knew/know the difference between you two, but I was looking at Ted's avatar and for some reason "Double Dog" came to mind.

Both of you guys are great posters!
I was kidding garden5. My feelings don't get hurt and I bow to Eric. I love his garden and he lives a lot closer to nature than I do. Plus the dogs in my avatar have much prettier smiles than Erics dogs.

Ted
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I don't know what your intent was with your hay bale, but it isn't good for animal feed after it starts "spoiling". It would work well in your compost though.
The hay, Island grass, is used for duck house bedding. While this bale was waiting it's turn, it was being used as a step. My old dog Jacob needs help get in and out of the truck. :D

I was kidding garden5. My feelings don't get hurt and I bow to Eric. I love his garden and he lives a lot closer to nature than I do. Plus the dogs in my avatar have much prettier smiles than Erics dogs.
Ted, no bowing, it's to hard to get back up. :lol: a handshake will do. Hope we are all here to have fun and maybe learn something.

Now lets get something straight, maybe your dogs teeth, you can pick on me, but Jacob says, "thems fightin words".
It was more like, roof- roof -rough, roof -woof- woof- ralph. I just translated.

Garden5, please call me Eric :wink:

Eric
Last edited by DoubleDogFarm on Mon Jan 31, 2011 3:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Ah...I wish I had ROOM for a bale or two like that. Potatoes keep calling my name.

Maybe it's just me, but...I can't see the wheat sprouts in the photo. Are they there yet, or will they be coming soon? If they're already there, I must be looking in the wrong place for them. :?

Is the advantage here the same as for potatoes; namely, that more air gets to the roots and the harvesting isn't as messy?

I can't get over the feeling that, once again--and probably *not* for the last time--I've been left behind at the starting gate!

Yer dum cuzzin,

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Re: Wheat Sprouts!

tedln wrote: I don't think you can take the "organic thing" too far. I just think everyone has to decide for themselves how far is "far enough".
Ted
Well said, I agree with that. :)

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Cynthia, that picture was before the sprouts came up. He posted it just to show us what he was talking about.


I can't speak for Ted, but I don't think an advantage is the main reason why he's doing it. Like myself, I'll bet he's just interested in seeing what happens.

Oh, and Ted, I'm a "he" not a "she."


OK...back on topic:

I would think that you would get mycelium in straw more-so that you would in hay since hay seems to be more of a bacterial food and straw slightly more fungal (dryer and higher carbon).

Eric, was your bale sitting just on the ground?
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Gosh garden5, I am so sorry! For some reason I relate concise writing styles with females and irregular styles like mine with males. I guess some men are just good writers and some are not. You are.

You are probably correct about the mycelium on straw versus hay. I failed to remember many farmers in my area purposely grow, harvest, and store straw in large bales specifically for mushroom growers. They stack the large rectangular bales at the edge of their fields and allow them to rot for a year or two. The mushroom growers send large flat bed trucks to pick up the bales yearly. I would like someday to visit a mushroom grower to see how they process the straw bales into a growing medium for mushrooms.

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tedln
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Cynthia,

Garden5 is right. The bales in the photo haven't sprouted any wheat sprouts. It was taken the same day I put the bales out and started treatment. I will post some photos when the bales have a good covering of sprouts. Right now, they are about one half covered.

I'm also not looking for any advantage in straw bale gardens. I'm just curious if they work as well as some people claim. I do think they could have some advantages as portable raised beds. At $5.00 per bale, you could build a raised bed for a very low investment. I think the bales are supposed to be good for two years. After two years, the remains of the bed would be recycled through the compost bin and new bales planted. I know some people start new bales with a three or four inch layer of compost on top of the bales. I just haven't determined a way to keep the compost from washing away in heavy rains.

I also intend removing the plastic from beneath the bales soon. I want contact between the soil and the bales so microbes and organisms like earth worms will have access to the bales. I'm also curious if my very, very poor soil below the bales will have been improved in a couple of years by absorbing the nutrients from the decomposing straw and the microbial and earth worm activity. The nitrates from the original straw treatment should have dissipated in a couple of years.

Since I've never grown potatoes, you need to educate me a little. What is the advantage of, and how do you grow potatoes in straw bales. I thought the expansion of the potato tubers would be limited in the bales because they are so tightly compressed. I can understand how roots intertwine themselves into and around the straw, but it seems a little confining for tubers. I have stuck a few onion seedlings into the bales to see how well they perform, but the onion bulb should grow above the straw while the roots invade or permeate the straw. I've also planted some Swiss Chard about 1/4" deep with the intention of planting a couple of varieties of early, low growing tomatoes.

Ted
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Eric, was your bale sitting just on the ground?
Yes, on the dirt driveway. Jacob was using it as a ladder into the truck bed. Jacobs Ladder :P

Ted.

You place a potato on the ground and cover it with maybe 6" of straw. Add more as the plant grows. Harvest time, you just pull the straw away.

Eric

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Ted,

I finally up loaded the pictures of the spoiled hay. Simply sitting in the rain on my dirt driveway. When I cut the baling string this was inside.

[img]https://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h300/eric_wa/DSC03110.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h300/eric_wa/DSC03109.jpg[/img]

How is your little experiment doing?

Eric

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Eric, at first glance; one would say "yuck". As an amateur mycologist, it looks like "nature at it's best". I love it.

My experiment? Nope, I'm just a curious person who does odd things to satisfy his curiosity. I expect to learn a lot from those straw bales this spring and summer. I'll post photos if I see anything interesting. We have had so much snow this past week with another blizzard coming tomorrow night, I think my bales are now in hibernation. I'm looking forward to spring.

Ted
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Eric, that"s the kind of hay I was using last year n my hay experiment (thread in Permaculture Forum). Dry hot days, clouds of spores would puff up if the bale was disturbed/split into flakes. I used them to mulch my potatoes too.

-- In case anyone is wondering, yes, I worried that it might be bad for my health -- after the first time it happened and I instinctively jerked away and turned my head, I made sure not to bend too close and jumped away at each puff and stayed away until air currents dissipated the spores. I kept thinking of a House episode in which the patient had some kind of fungus growing in his/her... brain(?) :shock: :roll:

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I see that mycellium and immediately think of mushroom growing videos that I have watched. I would be trying to bag that up and hanging it, hoping to get some great edibles!

In the video they sterilize the hay then innoculate. So likely it wouldn't work, but I would just have to try! :roll:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfpkPJw32f0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQhajyPFBCE

I don't know what they say, but can see what they are doing.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Js82wyMExs0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dj_pzUPy3y8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZihPzUsG_aM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5MxsqzzxEk

Next time you get mycelium, why not give it a try. Worst case scenario.. it is taken over by fungus. Best case scenario.... mushrooms for dinner! :lol: :clap:
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tedln wrote:Gosh garden5, I am so sorry! For some reason I relate concise writing styles with females and irregular styles like mine with males. .

Ted
Interesting! I would have thought the stereotype is the other way around, that men are the strong silent types, users of few words and women are the chattery ones who ramble on and on..

Not that I believe the stereotype, just that I think it exists...
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RBG,

You may be right. In my life, I've found knowledgeable women able to express their thoughts in a more concise and accurate manner than most men. It doesn't mean I always agree with their thoughts, but I appreciate their ability to express them.

I have a question for you. In another thread, you mentioned how easily you have been able to germinate the Chinese Giant peppers. I really think I bought a batch of bad seed. I've tried four different ways to germinate them without success. I'm curious if you have found the variety to be worth the effort to germinate. Are they any good?

Ted
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tedlin - I had missed this post until now. Sorry I can't help. The China Giants germinated just fine for me and have first true leaves. But this is my first year to grow this variety, so I can't say anything about how they turn out.
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oops! post accidentally duplicated

tedlin - I had missed this post until now. Sorry I can't help. The China Giants germinated just fine for me and have first true leaves. But this is my first year to grow this variety, so I can't say anything about how they turn out.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

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