Are there any problems with straw bale gardening?

Asked February 10, 2015, 6:13 PM EST

Hi,
We are thinking of planting vegetables in bales of straw this year. There is some prep work with the bales but cuts down on weeds and don't have to dig up turf to plant. Of course hope to purchase "weed free" bales of straw. Are there reasons to not plant in bales of straw? I know the bales are usually just good for 1 year and then they need to be recycled into the compost bin or as a mulch. Seems like if you don't want to do a lot of soil prep for a garden this could be a good way to plant veggies but would like your opinion about this and if any problems with doing this type of gardening. Thanks

Jefferson County Colorado fruits and vegetables

1 Response

Following is a publication from Washington State University Extension that details the construction and maintenance of straw bale gardens:
http://cru.cahe.wsu.edu/CEPublications/FS109E/FS109E.pdf

One of the most important considerations in straw bale gardening is the potential contamination with herbicide residues that will damage your crops. Please see this publication from the University of Arizona which discusses this in detail:
http://cals.arizona.edu/cochise/waterwise/pdf/Gardening/Strawbalegardens_6-13.pdf

Another consideration is location. Be sure you don't place it right next to your home as rodents can sometimes be a problem.

Placing a plastic barrier underneath the bales will also help keep weeds from surfacing from the soil below your bales and help hold in necessary moisture.

Good luck!