Hay Bale Garden Beds
I came across this post on the internet on hay bale garden beds from the SupaFresh Youth Farm. They built a small raised bed on the top of a bale of alfalfa hay in the beginning of the winter. They hoped by the spring that the hay would have started composting creating a great bed for vegetables. They used alfalfa hay because it has the nutrients that plants need. This is a post from the results of their experiment on July 9, 2011:
Sandie – the hay bale beds are a HUGE success. the squash that we planted in them are 10x the size of plants placed elsewhere. The nasturtiums are flowing out, and the snow peas are productive and delicious – in fact, the snow peas planted into the Alfalfa bales are the only ones that made it in the entire garden. I would highly recommend them.
These hay bale garden beds using alfalfa hay seem like a great idea. Just be careful when buying hay, that it hasn’t been treated with aminopyralid. This is a very strong herbicide that can hurt garden plants. See more about straw and manure contaminated by herbicide.
Picture used with permission Mia Bartlett, Chief Farming Officer
SupaFresh Youth Farm
Homemade compost can vary greatly. It all depends on what you put in it. I had an interesting experience this summer that I would like to share with you about my homemade compost made in my Compact Compost Tumbler. My compost ingredients were leaves, kitchen scraps and coffee grounds from Starbucks.
Green Beans and Compost
Check out my last 2 posts on growing grean beans before my post on staking tomato cages. I planted 2 sets of pole green beans so there would be a longer harvest. One set on each side of the trellis. So after several weeks of harvesting green beans from the first seeds that I had planted I noticed the leaves were starting to get yellow. I figured they were at the end of their growing season and I was glad I had another set of plants on the other side of the trellis to extend my harvest.
I Had Lots of Compost from My Compostumbler
The compost in my compostumbler was ready. Part of my garden was covered with a weed mat so I couldn’t dump it there. I had a whole wheelbarrow full and I wasn’t so sure where to put it. In the the process of deciding I left it in the wheelbarrow and it rained. Well now I had a muddy mess that was very heavy! So I wheeled it to the edge of the garden and dumped it. I wasn’t paying attention to where I dumped it–just a convenient place close to where the wheelbarrow was sitting (because it was so heavy). It happened to be that I dumped it all around the green beans that were dying.
After a week or so the dying green beans started growing again! Notice in the pictures how lush and healthy the green bean plants became. The new leaves were huge. The yellow spindly vines that were starting to die turned into these beautiful strong plants producing lots of beans. They grew right up until the middle of October producing lots of green beans. It was an amazing sight to see the transformation of these beans a few weeks after I dumped that muddy wet compost mix on them. Another great example of how great compost is. And since I inadvertently made compost tea, maybe that was also a factor in this great transformation. Read more about making compost so you can get started for next year.
Staking tomato cages might have been a good idea in preparation for Hurricane Sandy, (as you can see from the picture.) By staking, I mean to drive a thick wooden stake into the ground inside and right next to the metal of the tomato cage to give the cage support. I have done this in the past when the tomato plant gets too big and heavy and starts making the tomato cage lean over.
It Might Not Have Helped At All
Of course, the winds might have been too much for the stake also. And the cages would have blown over. The plants were quite large and heavy and already slightly leaning. My hope is that the cages did not bend at the bottom. These cages actually fold up for storage, so as they leaned over they also folded. So hopefully, they are not damaged because they are great tomato cages. Fortunately our growing season is almost over. There are still tomatoes in the garden but I see next week the temperature is going down to 36 degrees so our first freeze is not too far behind.
We send our prayers and best wishes to everyone who has suffered in this huge storm. Tomato cages are really the least of anyone’s worries. We are donating money to help people who have lost everything and I found this link very helpful: Ten Tips for Donating Smart.