Sage Hermit wrote:MN's Joel Kartsin uses hay bails in an interesting gardening way which cashes in on the nitrogen released in decaying hay as well as added heat for the plants.
applestar wrote: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.
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.
applestar wrote:Ha ha.
Here's my modified hay bale Sauce Tomato Bed. It only took 1-1/2 bales of hay. It also turned out that one of the square bale dimensions is exactly 15"
The ground was pretty much solid overgrown white clover. I fork/fractured the area, scattered some wheat bran, kelp meal, a bit of Dr. Earth Veg fertilizer because it was there, then almost finished unscreened compost -- enough so almost no green was showing. Then topped with flakes of the good alfalfa mix hay. The sides are timothy mix hay flakes held up against Rabbit fence, and the top 3 large squared portion of the fence should provide the first courses of "tomato cage." I'll Florida Weave type tech once the plants are taller.
Almost done, just have to fill it, but I need DH to finish pounding the fence posts the rest of the way in before I can secure the fence. (I couldn't wait and HAD to try putting the hay in.
You said you filled yours 1/2 way with unfinished compost, then with purchased finished compost, HG? With tomatoes, I think I might have to tweak that a bit -- put my usual mix of garden soil and Bumper Crop on the bottom and use some of the good potting soil I just bought on top (I plan to mix them all up.
I think I'll scatter some bokashi in the bottom to lure the earthworms even more -- do you think all this might be too much and "cook" the tomato plants?
This won't have the moisture holding capacity of full hay/straw bales like yours, but I'm hoping it'll do. At least I got the rain barrel all set up on this side of the house (I was using it to water the bed )