Ask anyone you know who already grows a Straw Bale Garden if weeds are a problem, and they will confidently tell you, “Not at all, I haven’t pulled a single weed all year from my bales.” It is true, and it makes perfect sense once you understand the basics. The straw bales are made of compressed stalks after the grain has been harvested, so the stalks should contain very few if any viable seeds that might sprout and grow from the bales. The conditioning process also causes the bales to heat up significantly and this heating process also tends to render any formerly viable seeds inside the bales inert, so they won’t germinate. Since traditional soil is littered with viable weed seeds that accumulate from many sources over the years, there are an unlimited number of sprouting weeds that must be dealt with. Sometimes weed seeds can remain viable in the soil for many years, until the gardener rototills in the spring and pushes the seed to the proper depth, where that seed finally gets the right amount of light, moisture, and warmth to sprout and grow. The bales in our Straw Bale Garden don’t have this issue, the straw inside the bales will quickly become brand new “soil” early in the season, and this vigin soil isn’t already contaminated with weed seeds like the topsoil in a typical soil garden undoubtably is.
For most avid vegetable gardeners, taking a vacation for a week or two during the growing season is unthinkable! They know they may come home and find that weeds have overrun the vegetable garden. Once well established, pulling out the roots of the weeds can disturb the soil around our actual vegetable plants as well, mucking up the roots and even killing them. While the typical soil gardener may return home after a weeks vacation to a major weeding project, for a Straw Bale Gardener the vacation continues when they get back and the garden looks just as weed free as when they left!