Monday, May 10, 2010

Turning Straw Into Gold

Strawbale gardening: it's not something I'd heard of until this year. My friend loaned me the book Food Not Lawns, an excellent resource for yard transformation which I'm reading, and we've been thinking on how we can restructure our massively sloped north-facing back yard to be more of a food producing zone in the "paradise garden" style that the author discusses in that book. But that's a multi-year project to say the least. In the meanwhile, we had some pressing problems like how to effectively fence off our raised beds from the pups that joined our family this year, what to do with the big dirt patch in the middle of the lawn where the trampoline was until recently, where to put the blueberries and raspberry starts (hopefully in a dedicated berry patch) and how to keep some lawn for the dogs while beginning to transform the rest.

Enter the strawbale! Did you know you can grow things right in a strawbale? You basically put the bale where you want it, get it wet to start the decomposition process, wait a few days, make a hole in the top and put in your plants. So our new fence around the raised beds is now going to be a double-high strawbale garden, thus giving us even more growing room with no extra digging or planning for the year. We've mulched in between the raised beds with straw, in the eventual plan to turn the beds into a more free-flowing design with water channels to reduce water needs. For the next couple of years, the strawbale mulch will begin this process by turning the paths to more usable ground.

And that big dirt hole where the trampoline was located? Now covered with straw bales which will house even more plants. The new berry patch is fenced off with twine in the upper right corner of the yard. Stay tuned for how the big strawbale experiment turns out!


KJ's Restart Button said...

Brilliant! I will be watching and if it works out, I will be adding straw bales to my garden next year.

janasmama said...

Looks awesome Robin! Can't wait to see how you guys figure out your contour gardening method. Looks like you have some leaf delivery on order this fall. :)

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Valerie Willman said...

what a cool idea! post more about the progress!

Sarah said...

I love this! It may even keep out my curious dogs that love to dig in my garden.