Maybe it’s just us, but we’ve been hearing a lot of chatter lately about straw bale gardening. If you’ve never heard the term “straw bale gardening” before, you might be sufficiently confused by now. But straw bale gardening is actually a pretty simple concept.

It’s a form of container gardening, but instead of using raised beds or planters, the bales of hay act as a container to grow all types of fruits, vegetables, and herbs. In fact, even potatoes can be grown in straw bale gardens. And if you think that’s surprising, here are four other interesting facts about straw bale gardening that you may not have known about.

1. Decomposed straw makes a great environment for seedlings

Because straw is dry and warm, it creates a perfect environment for hatching seedlings. In fact, straw bale gardening works really well in cooler climates like the Northeast US, where the Fall and the early Spring can be colder.

2. Bales take 2-3 weeks to “condition”

In order for the straw bales to become a good host for growing food, they need to be conditioned. This consists of letting the straw bales sit out in the elements for 2-3 weeks while they’re watered daily. This kickstarts a process similar to composting and helps the interior of the straw bale begin to decompose.

3. You don’t need to worry about weeds

If you source your straw bales bales from a reputable farm (and not a gardening store, like Home Depot) you likely won’t have to deal with weeds growing in your garden. Because straw bales contain less weed seeds to begin with, there’s far less chance

4. You can beautify your beds with flowers

If you’re not a huge fan of the look of a bunch of bales of hay in your yard or on your terrace, you can also plant flowers and other pretty things in the sides of the hay bales. Once these bloom, you have giant squares full of colorful flowers with fruits and vegetables on top.

For more info on straw bale gardening, check out this book by Joel Karsten, which covers everything you need to know about this type of gardening.

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