Over this last weekend we were able to get into town and pick up 4 straw bales for the "slimmed-down" version of the straw bale garden of last year. As I've stated before, they were a lot of work for hardly any reward. I also found that some plants did not seem to like them, so I'm doing some "research" into if I keep doing the bales from now, on.
Buying them involved a game of "Hide and Seek" throughout our mountains. The store by us no longer carried them, as their supplier would only supply bales if they bought a full semi full. We headed into Show Low and "found" them at one store. Turned out, when we went to the "south forty" to pick them up, they were a new compressed bale (half the size) so got our money back, and headed to another store.
Suffice it to say, after visits to 3 more stores, we finally acquired 4 bales.
After a high-five, we headed home.
Here, I decided to put them into an area that gets sun all day. We had to level the area a tad, then Steve heaved them into place. Another modification is to put them on their sides. After they slowly slid over last year, this seemed a smarter way to use them. Not what is in the book, but seems a tactic that may work. I'll let you know later in the season if it really was a smarter use.
It is getting late in the prep season so we got the rabbit fencing under them and I started the "seasoning" of the bales with fertilizer. They've had a few soakings and now it's just sit and wait for them to get ready for planting.
Got the hoses out of storage and pinned them into the raised beds. Tried smoothing the manure first, but this is one of the lumpiest brands of manure we've had. I hope the clods reduce/breakup as they get watered.
(right) Best little raised bed rake I've found. It's a kids rake from K-Mart. Metal, so it's lasted for a couple years.
I use a kids plastic one for the chickens which has to be replaced yearly as it dries out and breaks, but the thinner tine-space works better for poop/straw removal.
In the garden, this small rake reaches across the whole bed and the metal tines hold up to me smacking the clods, when my patience with their break-down isn't going well.
I have planned the plant placement for this season, with some care, and some "who cares" decisions. Those plants that can't repeat in the places they were last year will be moved. Others will just be placed where I feel like it. Not scientific, I know, but patience isn't my forte.
Poles and wire now are installed where the plants will eventually be planted. If warm weather returns, and stays, I hope to get seeds into the soil, soon.
I put the solar thermometer into the garden, too. It had better keep telling me its warming enough to grow something....