This is kitchen gardening 101 with a twist. The twist is……..
We are going to plant a vegetable garden hydrponically. The little cart above is a display at a nearby garden center and would not hold up to the process we’ll use in our backyard garden but isn’t it pretty?
(every time I say hay–that should say straw! do not use hay. Use rice, straw, alfalfa, wheat—but no hay)
When I say we, I am referring to Mr D and I. I do the planning and he supplies the muscle and money.
He was sitting in his Lay-Z-Boy tonight and I was surfing the internet for information on large scale raised bed gardens. When I was satisfied the moment was right….
Mr D–do you know what would be a good idea?
He says no.
Me: Well we need to build a garden out of oat/alfalfa/wheat bales and create a drip system that will constantly feed the system.
Mr D: Allright honey.
Me: We’ll get a bunch of alfalfa/wheat/rice bales and make a perimeter. More bales will be added in rows with an isle between and down the center.
Mr D: Uh huh.
Me: The back row will be three bales high with one bale butting right up to the bottom bale of that back row. The side rows will be two bales high. The front will be one bale high.
Mr D: We’re selling the truck you know?
Me: I know….but we can have the hay delivered.
Mr D: Won’t the hay decompose?
Me: Well yes but that is the point—it will rot from the inside out and that is what helps to feed/sustain the plants. The bales will last a season or two perhaps.
Mr D: They will sustain what?
Me: Corn, tomatoes, squash, beans, watermelons, and other vegetables.
Mr D: I will trust that you can grow vegetables in hay bales but how will you keep them watered?
Me: 4, 55 gallon water barrels will be located on each corner of the garden. They will be filled and garden hoses that will weave around the plants supplying a slow drip to the plants.
Mr D: 210 gallons of water a day? You do know we pay for our water?
Me: No silly, it’s a slow drip just to keep the hay wet.
Mr D: How will you keep the deer from eating the hay and your plants?
Me: They will be contained inside the fence we are going to build from metal fence post–inserted in the outer bales—and then wrapped in plastic screen material? The outer bales will be planted up with petunias which deer hate.
Mr D: Won’t this be ugly?
Me: No, cause we are going to put a cute screen door at the front entry and tons of other stuff around the perimeter to make it unique.
Mr D: Allright honey.
Me: Thank you! We won’t have to weed, bend over, water, or ever buy store bought veges again. We might need a freezer.
Bale growing is called hydroponics because you need to keep the bales wet for the system to work. I want to raise the beds because water run off is always contaminated unless you live in the boondocks. Last year my plants suffered a bit from being in the ground and receiving run off water. I will fill the drums with tap water which will sit long enough to evaporate the chlorine.
Bale gardening is supposed to use less water believe it or not. I’m going to attach inexpensive hoses to the bottom of the drums and then poke a hole where each plant is located. When I need to fertilize, I’ll just add it to the water in the drum. I’m going to use compost tea. Espoma has a new organic fertilizer called Gro-Tone that I trialed last year and loved it.
Stay tuned everyone. I will document the process.