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How to Make a Self-Fertilizing Hay Bale Garden Bed


I’ve recently found an even better idea than straw bale gardening, and that is hay bale gardening!

Straw bales are usually comprised of stalks of plants, mostly corn, that have been dried out and baled. Most straw bales consist of genetically modified plant matter, from corn or soy. It is definitely important to know the source.

Hay bales produce more efficiently then straw bales because of:

  • Adding Nitrogen, feeds the bacteria and fungi starting the decomposition process called “Conditioniong your bale”.
  • Due to the temperature rising any hay seeds would die, so not to sprout.
  • Hay bales being made of grasses have the ability to convert sunlight and soil minerals into dense nutrition, whereas straw bales require fertilizer.
  • Hay bales only need watering once a day vs multiple times a day for straw bales.

hay bale gardenIt is really easy to find hay bales to get your garden started!

It is also suggested that peeing on your bales is very beneficial, it is high in nitrogen and minerals. You can save up pee bottles for saving on fertilizer.

Directions for Conditioning:

Note: Although risk of fire is minimal, think of this when deciding the placement your hay bale garden.

On Days 1,3,5,7,9 – Add 1/2 cup of nitrogen to your bales and spray them with water to soak the nitrogen in.
On Days 2,4,6,8,10 – Soak the bale with water only.

Throughout the conditioning process, the temperature of the bale will rise possibly, up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The bales can become very hot, it’s important to keep them wet to eliminate the risk of a fire. Once the temperature inside the hay bale returns from hot to just warm, it is time to plant! You can plant seeds or germinated plants into the hay bale garden, and water once a day. It won’t be long until you’re enjoying your own organic food. At the end of the harvest you can use the entire garden for compost, and repeat the process again.

Original Article: https://www.endalldisease.com/hay-bale-gardening-effortless-food-production-with-no-weeds-no-fertilizer-less-watering-video/


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8 years ago

Bales made from corn stalks are not generally referred to as straw bales. Straw bales are mostly made from the stubble left over after wheat is harvested.

Susan Bartels
Susan Bartels
8 years ago

I started Hay Bale Gardening about 10 years ago, after learning all about Straw Bale method and deciding that it made little sense to use a medium that doesn’t hold moisture or offer nourishment. The first year I tried it, I planted 20 bales each (straw and hay) and treated them identically. The difference was outrageous! I offer classes in the Hay Bale method, too (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXWz6AmzH_c ) It’s a wonderful method, particularly if you are physically (or soil-ly) challenged. The only fertilization I use is fish emulsion from time to time.
Happy gardening!

7 years ago

Where do I place Hay Bales to avoid fires???? North,South,East or West facing???

Catherine Bleish
7 years ago
Reply to  Marishka

Are you trying to avoid the wind? The sun?

Lucille Janssen
Lucille Janssen
7 years ago

Straw bales in Kansas are usually made from wheat straw. I had two bales against my foundation this winter to keep pipes from freezing in bathroom. I have a couple of small raised beds, and transplanted a volunteer cherry tomato in the bale a few days ago. Hope it does well.

6 years ago

I don’t know if I should listen to anything from a person that does not even know what straw is, has to say about it.