There are many reasons why you would want to go down the route of planting on straw bales. My reasons are as follows:
- I don’t have to bend down to reach the plants. (also very helpful idea for elderly/disabled/bad backs)
- I don’t have to do any digging in that area (my plot is full of brambles and tree roots so this is a bit of a relief to cut down on as much digging required as possible)
- The plants I am choosing for the straw bales are Squash and Pumpkins. These large heavy fruit will be easily kept away from the ground, supported by the bales, and stay dry and in good condition in whatever weather.
- At just £3 per bale of straw, it’s cheaper than compost and as it breaks down natural goodness is still released!
Make sure you get your straw bales put into your chosen position in advance of plating out. You don’t want to plant your seedling directly into the straw bale as soon as you set it on the ground. I recommend a minimum of 15 days with the straw bales “out in the elements” and to make sure you visit them regularly and soak them in water whenever you can.
You do not need to add extra compost and nitrogen fluid but it does help if you can do so. I intend to use chicken manure saturated water on the bales to soak them in extra nutrients before planting.
In addition to this, think about what plants you are going to have near it. I chose a row of Borage right next to the straw bales. I waited for them to get big enough to not be bothered about the shade, this is a big hardy plant that is useful in many ways. In addition, Borage is reported to be a good companion plant for almost anything but in particular squash and strawberries. The straw bales on my plot are destined to have squash and pumpkins on them and in addition I have strawberries filling my fruit bush and raspberry bush area which is right next to the bales. This therefore seems like a match made in heaven!
Why is Borage Useful?
- Companion plant for most plants. Strawberries – increases yield and improves flavour
- Deters tomato hornworms and cabbage worms
- One of the best bee and wasp attracting plant
- Adds trace minerals to the soil and improves compost
- Increases resistance to pests and disease for any plants next to it
- Perrenial – plant once and never worry about it again
- Flowers are edible!
To plant the borage, I dug a long trench alongside the straw bales, and then placed the borage evenly along it.