Why Build A Hay Bale Garden?
There is work to be done initially to set up the bales and add the soil but once that is done, you have a productive raised garden that should produce a good harvest.
The older we get, the more we appreciate the advantages of working with a raised garden bed.
The question always arises as to how long the hay will last. Generally speaking the bales will last about twelve months. If the bales have been packed tight back on the farm they may last longer.
Now that might sound like a real problem having to renew the hay bales every year or so.
However, the hay is not wasted. Over this period the hay will decompose and gradually turn into compost. When this happens, it is a rich addition to the garden and just needs to be mixed into the existing soil. In this way the hay bales become a constant source of good rich compost.
If you have chosen your garden loam and your hay bales carefully, this garden should produce a minimum of weeds, if any. Take care with hay. Depending on the source, some hay can contain a lot of seeds which will start to germinate when the bales are watered.
Rainwater and watering with your garden hose will soon saturate the bales of hay. The nature of the plant structure in hay means that it absorbs and holds a lot of water. This can be a good thing as it will help to keep moisture in the soil.
The important thing to remember about the hay in the bales is that it will not usually become soggy. Once the hay is saturated, excess water will simple drain off.
It is also a good idea to source your hay bales from a chemical free farm. The hay will eventually turn into compost for your garden and choosing the right hay will keep harmful chemicals out of the garden.
The next two pictures show a hay bale garden currently under way in Palmwoods.
Do not be tempted to plant anything in the hay bales themselves because there are no nutrients in the hay available to the plants.
Having said this, there is a way to plant crops in the hay bales. It is a little more complicated, takes some time but is very effective if done according to the rules. We'll look at this technique in a later blog article.