Straw bale gardening??


The Living Force
I saw this on facebook and checked it out. It looks like a viable option for folks with poor soils, little space, or difficulty in bending.

link here:

The ebook is cheap, 10 usd.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
There is also straw bale housing:


EarthFlow Design Works ( Straw bale house with natural swimming pool by EarthFlow Design Works.

Concepts of People Power - Mother Earth friendly sustainability



The Force is Strong With This One
One of the main drawbacks I could see happening is that the straw bails wouldn't hold as much heat as soil. This happens to a slight extent with raised bed gardening and I would predict the rate of heat loss would be greater since the straw bails would be less dense. Thus it could make it harder to grow cool weather crops like peas, lettuces, and brocoli. It also may shorten the season of peppers and tomatoes and things like that because the temperature they will be growing in will drop much quicker than in soil.
I also would think you'd have to get new straw bails every year, or maybe two years.
After doing a bit of reading, it's basically like creating raised beds but using straw as a base so it is less permanent. Also not recomended for tall plants like corn or sunflowers, only annuals, and non-staked tomatoes.


A friend of mine is doing this, now in her 2nd year. She has physical disabilities, has plenty of room, access to cheap hay (she's experimented and decided hay is better than straw) and friends to help her set the bales in place. For her, I guess it makes sense. To me, it seems like a lot of work and expense for a relatively low yielding garden and I wouldn't be interested in doing it.


Dagobah Resident
FOTCM Member
wanderer said:
A friend of mine is doing this, now in her 2nd year. She has physical disabilities, has plenty of room, access to cheap hay (she's experimented and decided hay is better than straw) and friends to help her set the bales in place. For her, I guess it makes sense. To me, it seems like a lot of work and expense for a relatively low yielding garden and I wouldn't be interested in doing it.

Yeah it is a lot of work for low yield, but my property is on a steep hillside with few decent garden spots. The best flat, good sun area happens to be where the builder placed the septic and drain field, so growing above that, in bales, makes sense, since the soil is a no-no. Any safe method of utilizing that patch of land gets my attention.

I contacted the company and asked if hay would work, instead of straw. I wanted some clarification, since their web page seemed to emphasize straw. They said it really makes no difference, so long as you followed the preparation stage of nitrogenating the bales of whatever was at hand. I am also thinking that alfalfa bales might be a great medium, since it is such mineral rich plant.

Its a little late for this project this season, but I may try a bale garden tobacco experiment next year, over the septic field, with some plastic sheeting between the bales and the ground. I can probably get 50- 60 plants in the area that is currently unused.


Hi Rabelais,

I wonder if using something like rice straw wattles would work for your steep hillside? (Could help make terraced raised areas for planting) I had just heard about them and then checked out links on the web, but they seem like a viable resource, if they could be found locally. They're used commercially as erosion barriers. I was actually searching to see if anyone had tried using them in a similar manner as earthbags for building a quickie shelter... didn't see any examples of that yet, but it might be kind of fun to experiment with at some point. Cheers!

D Rusak

Jedi Council Member
I recently read that in some Scandinavian countries straw bale gardening is popular in raising potatoes. There are several sites on the internet about this, here is one:

Of course growing potatoes in tires is not the best, many undesirable things could leach from them into the potatoes. I have three potato plants growing in a large 20" by 15" or so round pot in a mixture of compost (mostly), newspaper, and soil. Once the plants grow a little larger my plan is to pack them with straw- I think I will try to do this within a tomato cage set-up to keep the hay in. I'll see if I can post some pictures a little later in the growing season.

This topic is really fascinating, I'd sure be curious to try gardening straight into the straw!


FOTCM Member
Some more interesting links about straw and hay bale gardens: The video is really nice, and you may find some interesting tips on the readers' comments below. (forum where people share their experiences with this type of gardening)


A Disturbance in the Force
I simply just love gardening , it is a simple yet very rewarding hobby. And also it can be profitable, I planted some vegetable for some eco food, but the flower seeds I just bought , I cannot wait for them to grow , some beautiful roses.


FOTCM Member
Hi arleziana,

Welcome to the forum. :) We recommend all new members to post an introduction in the Newbies section telling us a bit about themselves, and how they found their way here. Have a read through that section to get an idea of how others have done it. Thanks.


Jedi Master
We' tried SBG this year. Bought a book, followed it and now that the growing season is well underway, I don't have many positive things to say about it. Maybe this is better for northern gardeners with shorter growing seasons. i planted some of the same things traditionally as well as in the bales, and the bale plants seem stunted and anemic, while the traditionally planted plants are thriving.

Other issues:
Grubs... huge grubs that must have been "planted" by some beetle, which then attracted raccoons who tore apart the bales looking for an easy snack. :shock:

Birds and chipmunks pecking at the surface, digging holes which expose plant roots. I was hoping that being up off the ground would prevent this, but hey, they can climb... as well as earwigs and slugs, which have also been a problem.

Surface of bales are sinking in, disrupting roots, just doesn't seem like enough soil medium for roots to get hold.
Difficult to keep all parts of bale watered when using soaker hose.

The seeds planted on top of bale got washed away with the first heavy rain storm we had. :cry:

The upside:
We have some great partially decomposed nutrient enhanced mulch for the gardens that ARE thriving.

This experiment was a bummer. :/
We'll still try to grow some cool weather crops and see how they do into early Winter since we have some bales we haven't planted anything in yet.


The Force is Strong With This One
I was unsuccessful with my first attempt at SBG. Plants just didn't grow, even with good compost added.

Old McDonald

The Force is Strong With This One
I would not even attempt it. From time to time I have had hay and straw that was so wet before it could be moved off the field that it was not fit for bedding for livestock. These bales are never wasted. Put them somewhere convenient out of doors, cut and remove the strings, and in a year or so you will have a lot of organic material. Its feeding value for plants will depend upon what the bales consisted of to begin with, and will not be high, but its value lies in the organic matter to feed your underground workforces. I do not think it would be worthwhile buying hay or straw specifically for this purpose.
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