Did you know that producing food by gardening can be done effortlessly? One of the best ways to improve your efficiency is through the use of hay bales. Here we are going to teach you how to prepare hay bales for gardening.
Raising your plants’ bedding in the garden can lessen your gardening effort. Higher bedding also comes with many advantages, such as keeping animals away from plants and saving more space. The perfect plant bed height is also beneficial for your health. No more back pain because you can reach the plant without bending over!
The purpose of raised bed gardening is to put your growing plants higher than the ground. Other than using soil, there are few common bedding materials such as wood, stone, and bales of hay. Quick composting materials such as bales of organic straw can make good plant bedding. Hay bales are known for their moist and rich texture, providing nutrients for plants. Great choice to use in raising your gardening beds.
Now, before starting gardening effortlessly, here are some insights about how to prepare hay bales for your garden!
Can you use Hay Bales for Gardening?
Hay bales and straw bales may look similar, but they are different. Hay bales are usually dried grass that is harvested from living grass and baled together. Straw bales are simply dead plant stalks left over from harvested crops. Both can be used for gardening, but hay bales are superior since it‘s obtained from living plants and more likely to contain more organic materials.
Hay bales can hold water and nutrients, while straw bales provide a good aerating system. That makes hay bales the best choice for plants that require rich bedding, such as fruits and vegetables. Grow your plants on bales of straw or hay called hay bale gardening, a gardening method with no weeds, fertilizer, and less watering. This method is just another convenient saving-space gardening method like container gardening.
So, can you use hay bales for gardening? Absolutely, yes!
How to Prepare Hay Bales for Planting?
Before you get right down to it, you have to learn how to prepare hay bales for planting!
Getting bales of hay is the first thing you need to do before starting hay bales gardening. You can search for local farmers who sell them or just order the goods from the available stores. You can arrange the hay bales in your yard directly after you get them. With neatly arranged hay bales, it’s easy to check their condition.
Having well-arranged hay bales in your garden is just the early step of preparing hay bales for planting. The hay bales we get may have varying conditions. Ensuring the condition is the key to successful hay bales gardening. We have to adjust the conditions of the hay bales to suit the needs of the plant. Therefore, the hay bales conditioning step is essential.
How to Condition Hay Bales for Gardening?
Learning how to condition hay bales for gardening is an essesital step that you have to do precisely. After all, just raw hay bales won’t be good enough for your plants.
Conditioning hay bales is a process of decomposing bales by adding fertilizer. This process involves bacteria and fungi decomposition, which causes the temperature to rise. Considering hay bales already contain organic matter, which allows there to be grains and weeds. The decomposition process will remove them, so no other plants or weeds will grow along with your vegetables later.
The main point of conditioning hay bales is introducing nitrogen from fertilizer to your bales. The reactions between organic materials and nitrogen will result in fungi, bacteria, and possibly some insects breaking into the bales. It takes more than ten days to decompose the hay bales into fresh compost to nourish your plants.
This conditioning process should be done slowly from day to day. From day 1 to day 6, add ½ cup nitrogen or fertilizer per bale on the first, third, and fifth days. Then spray them with water to ensure the nitrogen soaks in. On the other day, just soak the bales with water only. On days 7 to 9, just add ¼ cup of fertilizer per bale daily. Finally, on day 10, add one cup of 10-10-10 fertilizer with potassium to bind the composting materials. Add enough water to wash the fertilizer into the bale and to keep the bale wet.
After day 10, the temperature of the bales will rise significantly during the process. It’s crucial to keep the bales wet to avoid fires. The changes in the temperature during conditioning also indicate when the process is complete. The hay bales that have been through decomposition will back down from a hot to a warm temperature. When the temperature inside conditioned hay bales reaches normal, you’re ready to plant!
How to Garden with Hay Bales?
After you conditioned your hay bales properly, you can simply plant your vegetables into them. You can start growing your plants from the seeds or germinated the seeds first. You can plant seeds into the bale directly after the conditioning process is complete or wait for the next day.
Having insight into plants and their favorable growing condition will help a lot in deciding what vegetable you will grow in your hay bales garden. Plants like tomatoes are likely to germinate better when the temperature is warm.
Any vegetables or fruit that grow well in the soil can also grow in hay bales. For starters, you can try planting tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers into the bales. Planting seedlings can be a good choice for a beginner. Seedlings are easier to maintain than seeds because they started as healthy living plants.
Although hay bales have moist textures, you still need to water your plants once a day to keep them healthy. If necessary, you can add some potting soil on top of the composting bale. It all depends on your plant’s needs.
Hay bales may be less common than straw bales to use as bedding material in gardening because of the higher price. That’s a fair price for the advantages it has. Apart from providing a good amount of moisture and supplement for plants, hay bales also have good sustainability. The hay bales used to grow crops can still be used as compost for the next season. You can also add them to other plant beds in your garden. This way, you can reduce your garden expenses for compost. Hay bales gardening is a very profitable choice!
Since you have learned how to prepare hay bales for gardening, it is time to step up your game and find out cleaning rust from your tools!