Site Selection and Preparation for Your Straw Bale Garden

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Site Selection & Preparation for Your Straw Bale Garden

You can grow a successful vegetable garden almost anywhere, using the Straw Bale Gardening Method. 

The three things you do need are sunlight, water & some bales. (There’s even some flexibility in whether your bales are made of straw, or another kind of compressed, organic material.)

Joel explains how to choose the best location for your Straw Bale Garden in this video.

You can read the transcript of this video below:

FYI, this transcript was automatically generated. We will correct the typos that happen in that process soon!

“All right, we’re going to talk a little bit about site selection today. One of the great things about struggle gardening is it doesn’t really matter what climate you’re in, you can be in northern climates above the Arctic Circle, where it gets really cold for a long period of time, or you can be in subtropical climates, places like Dominican Republic or Haiti, where struggle gardening has been successful desert climates where it’s really dry or in climates where it’s really wet Drago gardening works well there also. When it comes to local site selection, it’s really the most important thing about local site selection is you need to look for a good sunny spot. That’s the thing about vegetables I need full sun. There’s a few varieties, you can get by with a little bit less sun, usually tell people that the rule of thumb is the bigger the leaf on the vegetable plant, the less sun you can get by with, but anything with small leaves, about the size of your thumb or any smaller you need full sun and full sun to me means at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight. When you pick a site, it doesn’t mean you have to be completely away from trees. In order to find a good spot. You just need trees that are far enough away that when that summer sun angle gets above the trees, it can get to your garden you’ll notice our site we have here, we have some beautiful white pines that are not far away from the garden. But those white pines are far enough away that when the sun is high in the sky in the summer. This garden only 40 3040 feet away, is going to get full sun in the summer in the winter when the sun angle goes down, you’re going to lose some of that. It’s also important when you select a site that you pick a spot that’s a little bit out of the wind, you know, vegetables can handle a little bit of wind and Matter of fact, a little bit of air circulation is really good and healthy for vegetables. But if you’re in a direct line of of when a very windy spot. If you’re near a waterway or something where you get a lot of high speed winds. That can be a little bit detrimental to garden so you may end up having to put something up to help block that wind so if you can pick a spot, out of the wind. That’s always wonderful. Ideally, you’re gonna have a spot that’s somewhere near a water supply. It’s really easy to go over and turn that water spigot on and run a sprinkler a dripper style system works really well. If you need to carry water to a struggle garden you’re gonna be a busy person all summer. It’s a lot of toting water and you have to water on a fairly regular basis, doesn’t take any more water for a strabo garden so let’s, let’s not let’s not consider that aspect, but it does take steady water and it takes more frequent watering typically with a straw bale garden small amounts but more frequently.

Another big consideration when you’re picking a local site is the critters. The livestock in the neighborhood. If you got a big population of deer or other animals that are going to come and visit your vegetable garden and and eat lunch at your buffet you set up for them. It’s important that you pick a site where you can put up some kind of deterrence for that neighborhood deer population. The, the other critters on this particular garden that were standing in front of today has a little bit of problem with raccoons and skunks, especially during the sweet corn season. We don’t go sweet corn in the straw bales but sweet corn is grown inside the same garden so in order to keep the critters out, we’ll show you a little later how to install the little electric fence around the outside. This particular garden doesn’t have a problem with deer but if your garden does. There are many solutions out there for deer and people deal with this in a regular garden as well. So you can look at some of those alternatives, of course, tall fencing is always wonderful, but deer can jump a pretty tall fence so it has to be a pretty sturdy pretty tall fence to deter the deer. Another great thing about straw bale gardening is when you pick a site, it can struggle, or it can be done right over top of the root system of trees in particular and talking about trees like the black walnut that puts poison in the soil it’s called juggling. It gets in your soil it really inhibits the growth of many clients with struggle gardening, you can plant right above that root zone in Wales and the in the poison from the roots of the black walnut won’t hurt your, your vegetable garden at all. Another consideration when it comes to trees is a shallow rooted tree something like a maple we have a silver Maple right near this garden, and if you were to plant a traditional garden in the soil near a large silver Maple you’re gonna see that the shallow roots are going to come after the moisture and the fertility, that’s in your garden soil to feed that tree, and your garden is going to suffer. This is a great alternative because your bales are above the soil line, and you’re not going to have issues with that. Unfortunately a lot of places around the world that have contaminated soil. What we mean by contaminated soil is, if there’s been heavy industry nearby and smokestacks have given off heavy metals and LEDs throughout the years that can coat the soil, and it can contaminate the soil to a point where it’s probably not safe to eat the vegetables grown in that soil. Now that’s an expensive solution if you’re going to haul the soil away and bring in new soil. Great thing about strawberry, we can just put a ground cloth. People might be familiar with a landscape fabric you can buy the industrial landscape fabric that’s real wide and long rolls and real thick and you put that down on the ground over top of this contaminated soil, then you just put your bales right over top of that. It works really well in an urban situation where you’re not sure exactly what that soil is that you’re growing in size is a good idea to get a soil test if you’re going to put bales on top of pre existing soil to make sure that soil underneath is safe. Oftentimes you can get a deep rooted plant. It’ll grow all the way through the bale, and sometimes you’ll get roots down into that soil level as well. So it’s probably not a bad idea to have a soil test, just to make sure if you’re on top of good soil and those roots do get down into the soil that you’re not gonna have any issues with taking up contaminants heavy metals or land or anything like that into your vegetables, a wonderful thing about struggle gardening. You don’t even need soil underneath you can do this in a parking lot you can do this on concrete or asphalt, or on compacted gravel or when the kids swingset went away you can put it right over top of the pea rock that was in your kids, kids swingset area. You really don’t have to have great soil, you don’t have to foil it all underneath the straw bale in order to have a successful garden, there’s three things you need to have a successful straw bale garden in full sun. You need a source of water, and you need some straw bales. Hopefully you found a great spot for your straw bale garden on your property. Good luck, come back and let us know how your garden grows.”


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