Hay bale gardening is probably the most fun you’ll have growing your own food and herbs, requiring almost no work or maintenance.
After a search online to find the simplest and easiest “no work” gardening method, I stumbled upon straw bale gardening. The concept is simple: You plant directly into bales of straw, and as the season progresses, the straw is broken down into virgin soil that nourishes the plants from inside the bale.
One amazing benefit of this method of gardening is that the bales provide a raised bed, which keeps predators away and makes picking your vegetal treasures at the end of the season easy on the back. I watched every video I could find on the subject, and have since concluded that using HAY bales instead of STRAW bales is far superior.
Why Hay Bales are Superior to Straw Bales?
Before we get into why hay bales are superior to straw bales, let’s first define what they are:
– Straw bales are basically stalks of plants, usually corn, that have been dried out and baled together into various shapes and sizes.
– Hay bales are grasses that have been dried and baled together.
In my research, the idea that hay bales may have seeds in them and could grow weeds is the same reasoning reiterated time and time again by proponents of straw bale gardening. The reason why this idea holds little water is that when nitrogen is added to feed the bacteria and fungi to start the decomposition process of the bale, a process called “Conditioning your bale”, the interior of the bale can reach temperatures as high as 130 degrees Fahrenheit or more.
The likelihood of seeds surviving these extreme temperatures is slim, and a number of other benefits that come from using hay bales make it a far superior approach in my opinion.
– Straw is likely made from genetically modified plant matter – The problem with straw bales is that they will usually be made of genetically modified corn or soy. Do you really want your food growing in decomposing genetically modified plant matter?
– No fertilizer needed with hay – Hay is made of dried grasses, and for its ability to convert sunlight and soil minerals into dense nutrition, it has been said that grass is the healthiest plant on the planet. When we use hay bales for gardening (as opposed to straw bales), the compost that is formed within the bale to feed the plants is far superior in nutrition and, unlike straw bales, no fertilizer needs to be added to feed your plants throughout the season.
– Less Watering – Straw holds water less effectively than hay, so instead of watering once per day with hay bales, you might have to do it 2 or 3 times per day.