During our project to create a farm in the middle of town, my family and I would try to grow hay bales in addition to our traditional cultivation beds. I had never heard of the concept before, I had never grown at all before the filming of the series. Everything was new, including hay bale cultivation or straw bale gardening. Maybe it was just as good that I did not know much before because then you go in with an open mind and no preconceived notions. I mostly thought it sounded poetic and almost a bit romantic .. so in English .. In Swedish it did not sound as beautiful but I still thought it sounded like an exciting project.
So what is hay bale farming?
Just as it sounds, you grow in hay bales instead of in beds .. 60 hay bales were delivered to our plot and so in retrospect there were probably too many .. (not me who ordered them hahah)
The benefits of growing in planers are several;
- You do not need soil so you can grow on concrete in principle.
- It gets warmer in the hay bales so you can start growing earlier in the season
- You reach a more comfortable working height
- When you have finished growing, you have fantastic material for compost and beds of the decayed hay.
- It is beautiful and perfect to use as building blocks, frames, etc. for the vegetable land.
- Once they get started and have had enough manure, it grows wonderfully in them.
Disadvantages of hay bales:
- You have to prep and prepare the hay bales for about 10-14 days with manure, preferably chicken manure
- It gets a little messy with hay everywhere, especially in the beginning before it has gotten wet and no longer flies around.
- It is not suitable if you are allergic to hay, especially in the beginning when they are dry. When the first weeks have passed, it will be better
- Dry / damp? I experienced that it was difficult to know what was needed in the hay bales ,, in one and the same hay bale there could be ant nest AND snail nest .. one thrives in drought and the other in moisture but in the hay bales apparently everything thrives, two-jaws too .. I that is, there were more insects in them than in the earth.
- It took much longer than I thought for it to start and germinate.
- You need to fertilize more than you think.
There were pros and cons so if I experienced it and it ended up that we removed about half of the hay bales but kept the ones that were booted with the fence. Partly to give them one last chance but also because the planers actually help and support the fence that we set up around the kitchen garden. So in retrospect, I'm so happy we kept half for the cabbage and zucchini and the pumpkins grew / grow magically in them. The bottom line is that I will definitely continue to grow in hay bales next season but only in the "frame" around the kitchen garden along the fence.
How to grow hay bales?
Step one is to choose properly which place you want them in because once you start watering, they become incredibly heavy and difficult to move, believe me .. I moved several because I regretted how we set them up first .. hard, really hard .. There are a few different schedules if you google how to do to get started decay and heat ,, I followed them point to point with watering with only water the first 2-3 days then alternate manure water and clean water every other day for at least ten days .. However, I do not think it worked so well, nothing happened .. when I googled around I see that several others have had the same experience. More manure was needed! But it was cumbersome and messy to mix chicken pellets with water, pour into a watering can and then water .. it took about a large watering can / bale and we had 60 pcs so damn what I had to wear. This was something I did myself as well .. Eddie was busy carpentry in the greenhouse and taking care of the lambs among other things. Then I thought that äsch now I pour down the chicken pellets straight down into the bales and also put the well horse manure on top and THEN! Then something really happened .. so my best tip is to scoop on more manure than you think / read about.
In the pictures below you can see that we had hay bales in the middle aisle with, dt were among other things the ones we removed to open up a little more so you could get out but it was also where there were most insects, and grew the worst.
Sara Bäckmo was my cultivation savior throughout the project, always good and factual tips but also pep and encouragement when you thought it would not work .. after we removed the hay bales in the middle it looked like this: