Thursday, April 28, 2016

Garden Plans

It's almost time for planting here at Dogwood Lane Farm. It may seem a little late to a lot of you in the rest of the country but I can tell you that living where we do in the Sierra foothills the weather is very iffy until late May. In fact our last frost date is traditionally Mother's Day and no one in their right mind would set out a tomato plant around here before then. They'd be laughed off of the Divide!
Keeping all this in mind we enlisted the help of our oldest grandson Jed when he was home for spring break to help move straw bales into place for own 2016 garden experiment. This year we're going to give straw bale gardening a go.
Of course this is me talking so I did a lot of research over the winter months and found as much information as I could about this method of growing a garden. We're using this book as our guide. Straw Bale Garden by Joel Karsten.
Basically the idea is grow your vegetables or even flowers and herbs in decomposing straw rather than in the ground. Why you ask? Well, we don't have good soil here in the forest and for years I have struggled to amend it and improve it. Secondly, I'm always looking for ways to use less water and I'm hoping this will help with water conservation. I really have very little to use by trying since straw is so cheap and we've discussed on this blog before how glad I am that I'm not trying to make a living growing crops because I would be a dismal failure as a farmer! I can't seem to grow a vegetable to save my life. I can grow any kind of flower but vegetables hate to grow for me. This confession from the mother of a certified Master Gardener no less!

The bales were moved into place in the previous raised beds that we lined with weed cloth in case of grass seeds germinating. I don't want to be weeding those beds next year. They're supposed to be in place for a few weeks ahead of planting to start their conditioning. I wanted to take advantage of the expected spring rain fall. We haven't had rain in California in so long that I'm determined to catch every drop I can and soak it up with those straw sponges. It was great to help the help of that young man power.
Just a few more weeks and they'll be ready for planting. Remember our little peach and nectarine trees? Lots of blossoms. Aren't they the cutest things? 

A garden is always a series of losses set against a few triumphs, like life itself. ~May Sarton

Until next time,


  1. I just read about these hay bale gardens a few months ago. Looking forward to watching your progress with them. I hear they produce NO WEEDS!!!

  2. We are trying this year too, did not know about the conditioning of the bales though. Since you have already researched it thoroughly, and DH glanced over it on internet quickly, I'm going to try and talk him into waiting and seeing how you are doing with it. I'm going to try and find the book too. Good luck. We already have our pools planted (our version of raised gardens). Are your little fruit trees dwarfs? And do they produce any fruit? I did not think they produced fruit. Your is a beautiful splash of color to your garden right now.

  3. I've heard of gardening with this method, but never knew anyone who has done it. I know you will keep us posted. Looks like a water saving method for sure.


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