Hay Bale gardening: no weeds, no fertilizers and less watering!! What a simple but amazing concept!!

To me (who isn’t much of a gardener), I thought this was a very simple yet successful way to garden – even in our drought!

And, I know exactly where to get hay bales.

Basically, you treat the bales with nitrogen and water over 12 days in preparation for planting.  Then, you plant on top, on the sides – anywhere in the bale – and everything grows!  The nutrients from the decomposing grasses feed the plants during their cycle.  Afterwards, everything can be put into a compost pile to use in your garden next year!

Brilliant!  Raised beds that you don’t have to build!

The original article is here.


Click image to go to the original article.

Click image to go to the original article.

Screen Shot 2015-09-05 at 1.45.59 PM

Click image to go to the original article.

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Click to watch the video!

Click to watch the video!


I found a FB page about straw bale gardening (same concept as hay bale gardening).

CLICK the image to go to the page

CLICK the image to go to the page


Another great idea for pallets!


This idea was also on the Straw Bale Gardening FB page!



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41 comments have been posted…

  1. Zconie 18/02/2017 at 12:09
    The writer of this article is wrong about the contents of hay vs straw, Really you should get your facts straight before making an Idiot of yourself….. I was born and raised on a farm, and corn or soy beans as a straw.? Are you nuts? Straw in from wheat barley oats etc. We used to bale soy straw for the beaf cattle but never used it for bedding. Hay is much more than just dried grass. It is from alfalfa, timothy, lesbydeasa among others.
  2. Lynda 18/02/2017 at 09:38
    Straw is from wheat, oats rye NOT corn. Corn stacks are used for bedding of livestock.Jim in the above post is correct dated 7/2/2016.

  3. doug brooks 18/02/2017 at 05:10
    tried last year, aged hay stored long enough for grass and weed seeds to die, treated with nitrogen fertilizer, worst garden ever!
  4. Chad 07/05/2016 at 23:47
    Straw usually comes from wheat, oats, barley, rice, and rye. I have never seen straw from corn.
  5. Jane Anderson 21/04/2016 at 10:14
    Having had horses and seeing how bales of hay mold inside when rain gets on them, I would question this. Not so sure I would want food that is grown on mold.
  6. C Passione 26/03/2016 at 04:31
    i like the idea of mounting pallets on saw horses. you then lay out the entire bag of potting soil on top of the pallets. Be sure to poke holes in the bottom of the bags for drainage. You can easily grow rows of lettuce, spinach, and radishes…. If you plant early enough, like right now you will be able to harvest and replant in a by mid to late June…
  7. Richard Roach 09/03/2016 at 16:02
    My comment is a question, I’m at the end of 2 weeks of 1/2 cup 43-0-0 every other day and have not seen any temps over 130 and we have had cloudy rainy skies for three days and today I went out to find mold on top and sides and inside of my bales and mushrooms growing. What did I do wrong?? I did use hay bales and think it was bermuda.
  8. Shelli 04/03/2016 at 08:12
    Can some one tell me what to do when I get my straw bales I’m so confused on what steps to take. I’ve read all the comments but have not figured out what comes after buying your straw bales… I got that someone said to save up pee??? Lol you just pour it all on each bale or what?? Would chicken or horse or cow poop be good to put on the bales?? I have plenty of that stuff. If you want you can send me response to my email shell68ok@yahoo.com. Thanks for any help. I have a really bad back and I think this type of garden would be easier for me.
  9. Brian 27/02/2016 at 20:46
    Use pea straw. 1) it contains more nitrogen already and 2) if there is any regrowth it will be blue peas which are at least edible and have bee attracting flowers.
  10. Jackie 25/02/2016 at 13:17
    Pallets contain some heavy duty chemicals. Not only repellents for bugs, also treated for moisture. Wouldn’t want that seeping into your crops.
  11. Dan 23/02/2016 at 06:50
    Any straw bale I have ever left out for some time has always started to regrow weat from the bale.This would seem to be as bad as weeds to me.Just sayin..
  12. Mary Stebbins Taitt 22/02/2016 at 15:30
    You have to be careful where you obtain hay or straw bales, as ones used for seating and decoration are treated with something poisonous that kills plants.
  13. Jannine 21/02/2016 at 07:37
    You are incorrect about straw bales being made from corn or soy. Straw is made from barley, oats, rice or wheat crops and not GMO crops. So that is not really an argument for using hay instead of straw. You could just say one could use both and that YOU prefer hay. You can read more here – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw if you want to learn more info on what straw is made from but you are passing on incorrect info. You really ought to correct this.
    Having said that, I do really like your photos of growing in the bales and the other ones like pallet gardening. Good article except for that one point.
  14. Joseph Houseman 21/02/2016 at 06:25
    I’d be more impressed if the author knew the difference between straw and corn stalks.
  15. Barefoot Gardener 20/02/2016 at 10:12
    Let’s teach people a bs way to grow instead of actually teaching them how to grow organically.. All you need to do is add nitrogen! Lol you know there are 17 nutrients that plants need right? Decomposed hay or straw will leave you with very little nutrients. Most of it is food for microbial life. If you want to truly grow organically then I’d highly recommend reading everything you can about soil biology.
  16. Carolyn 16/02/2016 at 13:17
    I tried both straw bale gardening and pallet gardening last summer. I planted my tomato plants in straw bales and had the the biggest crop of tomatoes I ever had. I will definitely be doing this again. I planted green beans in pallets last year. It was a total failure. I will not be doing that again. This year everything will be going in straw bales
  17. Julie 16/02/2016 at 10:11
    Can you use bales that have previously gotten wet and started to mold?
  18. Kathi 15/02/2016 at 07:59
    What plants do you suggest planting on the sides? I would love to try this type of planting this year.
  19. Sheila 14/02/2016 at 22:27
    Be sure the field was not treated with grazon or the seeds will not germinate.
  20. Adele Sands 14/02/2016 at 20:13
    unless it’s organic hay or straw I wouldn’t suggest it. really nasty stuff is put on hay crops. clopyralid was used on my horses hay, it came through their bodies, and the compost I made with their manure ruined my garden soil.
  21. Christie 14/02/2016 at 19:46
    Choosing straw or hay has nothing to do with whether or not it’s organic. Either can be organic OR saturated with pesticides. Hay is dried grass–with seeds, and straw is the stem, and is hollow inside. Incidentally, people make straw bale houses (not hay bale houses) because there is air in the straw to make for better insulating.
  22. Paul 14/02/2016 at 19:39
    I’ve been composting for 40 years. Yes, grass bales and organic anything has weed seeds. No problem, just spend enough time to compost the entire lot and all seeds rot if managed well in turning the heap. True enough that the remaining straw from commercial crops treated with pesticides have less weed seeds, but the residual chemicals are a concern with the raw material. No problem, by the time your raw material is completely composted, what chems that have not leached out are rendered inert. The only organic food available to healthy root systems is thoroughly decomposed plant waste, humus. Only one thing better than the best and most nutrient laden compost, are you ready…….send it through the gut of a worm. Yes, worm castings improve raw compost not to mention the urea nitrogen produced by the one hundred plus pairs of kidneys in each earthworm. Take the average Allolobophora caliginosa earthworm with aprox. 126 segments that make up the body with a pair of kidneys for each segment. The slime, or urine secretions lubricate the worms movements in the soil thus providing one of the best types of nitrogen in the world. Urea nitrogen from worms can be used as a foliar feed directly to the leaves of plants without burning. I could go on for hours but I fear many have gotten bored long before getting this far. Happy horticulture to all and to all a goodnight!
  23. Amy 14/02/2016 at 19:09
    The hay bale thing idk usually the plant gets its nutrients from the soil
  24. Jennifer 14/02/2016 at 11:43
    I grew in straw bales this year and the results were fantastic for most vegies.
    I used 3 types of straw; wheat, barley and pea.
    Wheat straw took the longest to break down and pea straw was the fastest.
    I found the barley and pea straw were the easiest to cure and could be planted at around 2 weeks, wheat was more stubborn.
    Carrots, parsnip, beetroot, radish, tansy, parsley, nastursiums loved the environment, the carrots grew perfectly straight having no obstacles to contend with. By far the biggest successes were tomatoes, zuchini, cucumber, squash and pumpkins (they went absolutely crazy!). I did not have success with peas and beans this year… but it may not have been the fault of the bales i will try them again.
    8 thoroughly recommend straw bale gardening.
    No digging!!! Less bending!! Watering in first few weeks is intense but after that they are less needy than traditional garden beds.
    The plants will grow HUGE so allow room between rows. I made a labyrinth out of mine and it was fun until the tomatos and pumpkins realised they were growing in paradise and went berserk and made it difficult to access parts of the garden.
    I am a convert and will continue to straw bale garden but will plan the design much better next time .
    When you first start curing the bales a coupke of things happen that make you wonder if your bales are faulty! You get grass…. just pull it out and throw back on top (more nitrogen) and you will get lots of inky top mushrooms. Neither are bad in fact it is a good sign your bales are curing well.
    Straw bale gardening is fun, you can grow a garden on a cement slab!!! There are several types of straw bale and some types seem better for some plants.. the pea straw breaks down very fast so i would not recommend it for carrots but would rather plant them in the wheat or barley. Wheat is probably the most common bale you would find. My preference is barley and pea straw but wheat is perdectly fine.
    Dont use hay its going to waste all that composting goodness growing weeds.
    You need to cure your bales before they are ready.
    They must be thoroughly soaked for the first couple days.
    Next you need to get them composting i used blood and bone (blood meal is better but hard to find), also added some urea and seaweed solution.
    There are guides out there just ask Mr Google.
    After 2 weeks the bales get hot inside and start to decompose. Once the temperature has gone from hot to warm you are ready to plant.
    Its fun gardening and after the bales are in place there is not much work to do until harvest then you will be busy reaping the rewards of lazy gardening.
    Give every family member a bale or 2 and see who can grow the best veggies…. dont forget to plant the sides of the bales as well as the tops!
  25. tim 14/02/2016 at 08:11
    Don’t you love it when someone writes an article and the people reading it know more about the subject than the writer does? Straw is from cereal grains wheat, rice, oats, there is no GMO wheat, or oats, if you get rice find out if it’s gmo, if that kind of thing matters to you.
  26. Kathy 13/02/2016 at 10:32
    Does anyone know if the large round bales of grass haylage works with this? Not sore if there is anything sprayed before baling and fermented.
  27. Cindi Kunz 11/02/2016 at 12:00
    Something is sure wrong with your date and time system. I posted my comment on 2/10/2016 at 3:00pm
  28. Cindi Kunz 11/02/2016 at 11:58
    I am so glad to see the comments about the straw bales because it is the dried stem left after the oats, wheat, rye, barley and other feed has been combined and left to dry in the field. Not corn or soybeans! I am going to try this with straw bales which hold water better then hay bales. The author of this article did not do his/her research very well. Organic straw will have more weeds then regular straw. Research why yourself.
  29. Marilyn 09/02/2016 at 17:06
    Straw is from WHEAT not corn. Silage is from corn, and can be baled.
  30. Cynthia 09/02/2016 at 08:33
    I have tried using straw bales but they too are full of seeds and WILL sprout 😦 I have seen it suggested to use “seedless” straw but it doesn’t exist where I live and I’m not sure it exists anywhere ! I love the idea of this but in reality I grew so many weeds/grass I could barely see the vegetables.
  31. Shelly 08/02/2016 at 08:27
    Do not use hay bales… From grass hay. You will never get rid of the weeds and grass, plus ask your farming they use milestone or any othother nherbicide if they did your garden will not grow.. Get either barley or oat straw organically grown!!
  32. jim 07/02/2016 at 15:58
    Straw bales are NOT bales of corn. They are bales of straw: the remains after harvesting some type of grass (wheat, rye, barley, etc.). Hay bales are bales of grass, clover, alfalfa, etc. Straw works better; grass is second best. Do NOT use bales of corn, sorghum, or a member of that family. Don’t use soy beans, either. Straw is best.

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