Thursday, February 14, 2013

Straw Bale Gardening -messy but fun

In huge news I am speaking at the Seattle Flower Show next week (Feb 23, 2013). Okay it is technically not the flower show it is the Northwest Flower and Garden Show ( or tweet @NWFGS).
Initially, bales are laid on the ground in a square 

In day to day life I am not a speaker, I am a gardener and a consulting horticulturist and because I don't have to make my living off farming or raising food for my family I have plenty of time to play in my garden, a practise that is fun, gives me an excuse to go outside and brings surprising results.

No- I don't want anyone to dredge up that long-past incident with the flame thrower and my ornamental grass. Yes - there was a small fire and a few neighbour's came running down the street but I quickly hosed my garden and husband off and there was no harm done. In fact I would suggest the grasses look stronger than ever this year.

Anyway - this year there will be no flame throwing. Instead, I am playing with straw bale gardening. I picked up the bales on January 1 because they need to "season" a bit before planting. In farmer lingo they will go "punky" or rotten. After sitting outside all winter they definitely won't be animal fodder by spring. A couple of weeks ago I was taking riding lessons (No - I am not a hip chick Snow Boarder, I am fulfilling a childhood dream and learning to ride a horse.)

While at lessons in the indoor ring I casually asked about manure. What did Gordan do with all he was scooping out of the stalls when I arrived that morning? We give it away, was the simple answer. So by later that same afternoon my  husband has stopped around with our utility trailer and loaded up a few scoops for our straw bale project. Now the bales are neatly arranged in squares of four bales per "planter" and they are filled with fairly fresh manure. Do I suggest gardening in fresh manure? Of course not- but have you checked the calendar? It is a long time until spring and that gives plenty of time for bales to condition and manure to break down. As it sinks and decomposes, the manure will be topped with garden soil and planted into. I will probably grow heat loving crops like squash and pumpkins.

But meanwhile I get to speak in Seattle next week and tell tales of my garden and vegetables generally. I can hardly wait to speak of manure and other exciting gardening topics. And, no, I will not speak of the flame thrower. Such things are best left to the memory banks.


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