How you gonna plant in amongst all that straw? What’s all that straw for anyway? Kick back a minute and I’ll tell you all about it. Ok, if you have been following our blog so far you’ll know that under all that straw there is a nice thick portion of newspaper and under that is a whole bunch of beneficial soil organisms. If you didn’t know that then you might want to go back and check out our previous post. (Breaking of Tradition – Soil of Life)
Paying attention? All you need to do is make a hole in the straw I use both hands, but you might only use one. The thing is, you gotta get all the way down to the layer of newspaper.
That’s it get right down in there, little bit farther.
Don’t make it too big though, it needs to be just right. Feel that wet newspaper down at the bottom? Well that is proof of concept my friend, that paper is going to hold water and keep things nice and moist for those beneficial organisms like worms and fungi to thrive. Not to mention the fact the roots of your plants will be in direct contact with them.
Now, take your knife or any other sharp implement and stab holes in through the newspaper layers. Yes, you’re going to kill a few organisms but not nearly as many as if you were tilling. You are going to be doing more good for those organisms than they will ever know, so go to it, stab some holes! If you are planting deep rooted vegetables like carrots then go ahead and cut the bottom of your hole out so those roots can get way down in there. Otherwise, poking holes will be enough to let the good stuff happen.
Now that the dirty work is done lets get to the fun part. Fill the hole about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way with good high quality compost. You don’t have compost you say? Well then, use what you have, because we are going to learn to make good high quality compost in a future post. The compost I am using in this shot is 1/2 cotton burr compost (store bought) and 1/2 of some soil out of a raised bed from last year. Looks pretty good huh? Like I said, more info on making your own compost coming soon.
Ok you got your hole almost full of good quality compost right? Loosen up the roots on that potted seedling and stick it in the hole.
Cover with more compost until the hole is full and pull the straw back up around your plant. This is a red salad bowl lettuce seedling that we got at Atwoods today. It looks pretty happy huh? I cant wait to snap it limb from limb and pour some ranch all over it with a tomato all chunked up and maybe some cucumbers. Ooh man!
This little brussel sprout seedling got the same treatment. I know, it looks a wilty but I’ll bet it’s perky in the morning after the little rain we got a couple hours ago.
Yeah, yeah, crack kills, I already know. We are mixing our rows up so I planted 14 plants in the row at front in this shot. Where this row ended I took up in the other bed and planted another 14. They are various things that we thought sure would make it through the next few days that are supposed to get close to freezing. Let’s see, what all did we plant? Cabbage both red and green, brussel sprouts, lettuce, kale, broccoli and cauliflower.
Here is a wider shot of the two rows. I am really excited to see what these look like in a couple weeks and even more excited to see how these beds fair in July and August when it’s 1000F for weeks at a time. That straw mulch is doing a great job already holding in moisture and slowly breaking down to build more soil and if we keep this up these beds should be less hassle than a traditional tilled bed because we will be retaining moisture and building soil chock full of beneficial organisms for years to come.
That’s about all I got, take it easy!
TL;DR Pull the mulch back, fill the hole with compost, plant your seedling in the compost, pull the straw back up around the plant and repeat. You’re planting in a lasagna garden friend.
- Compost battle can be fought in trenches (triblive.com)
- Breaking of Tradition – Soil of Life (offkilteracres.com)
- Handy Advice For Gardening The Organic Way (cigqmst723.wordpress.com)
- How to Start Gardening? (recardomaurice12.wordpress.com)
- Grow Food Anywhere: Straw Bale Gardening (nextworldtv.com)
- Step 3 – Prepare Your Soil (auntiedogmasgardenspot.wordpress.com)
- Tips, Tricks, And Advice For Your Personal Organic Garden (erskinehfra.wordpress.com)
- Straw Bale Gardening 101 (groundtoground.org)
- Beware Of What’s In Your Organic Compost (eatdrinkbetter.com)
- Green Living and Saving Money at Home: The Importance of Composting (usgreentechnology.com)
Thanks for the post. Down here in Florida it feels like it gets 1000F, too. I need this for spring gardening … don’t even attempt to garden in the summer!
I would like to thank you for being out first commenter. Ma actually comes from Florida so we feel your pain. We hope to use permaculture and various other techniques to keep producing through the heat this year. Thanks again!
Enjoyed the article and pictures. I have been educating myself on no till methods, this was very helpful. Since you mentioned permaculture, not sure if you are familiar with hugelkulter but some of the principles are the same. I imagine some day owning land with a hugelkultur fence, flowers on the outside and veggies on the the inside, I have thought about using cardboard to cover these during the winter, cutting through the cardboard to plant in the spring.
Thank you for stopping by Mark. We have heard of Hugelkultur and just built our first a-frame level to play around with contours yesterday. We plan to build some mini hugel swales in the near future.