Monday, 26 December 2011

The Great Straw Bale Adventure of 2011

by Megan @ The Byron Life

Here we are approaching the end of the year already.  I hope you had (and are sill having) a wonderful Christmas holiday.

When I was invited to write for the co-op, back in September, I began with a post about setting up my very first straw bale veggie garden. You can read that post here. It was an experiment, an adventure, and I had no idea what I was doing! Luckily I'm all for throwing myself in the deep end and seeing how things turn out...

Since this is my last post here for 2011, I thought I'd show you how my humble straw bale veggie garden has developed over the past couple of months...

This is how we started: the straw bales were watered down, left for a week, then the first seedlings planted.

Around four/five weeks in and this was how it was looking: The first beans were ready to be picked, tomato plants were flowering and cucumbers were ripening.

We have had an unusual summer so far, weather-wise. Extremely hot days in November, followed by the coldest summer weather in 50 years this December. Some plants did not like this turn of events: the tomatoes developed some kind of mouldy stuff on their leaves from all the rain, so we haven't had great success there (although some yellow pear tomatoes planted in a tub are now starting to fruit, fingers crossed!).

However, other plants enjoyed the rain and cold: the cucumber vine has been fruiting wonderfully and my basil plants have not yet bolted on me, so we have been enjoying handfuls of basil in meals every week.

And this is where we are at now: The extension of the straw bale garden. These new bales were delivered on Christmas Eve and promptly put into place before the rain came down. This time I am really going to pack on the manure and compost to feed those straw bales before planting, and I am thinking of sowing seeds directly into the compost this time, instead of planting seedlings as I did previously... the experiment continues.

I realise that, aesthetically, this little garden looks messy: There's my wonky clothesline in the background, my drainage pits around the straw bales have yet to be neatly finished with ag. pipe and pebbles and the straw bales, as they break down, may not be to every one's style. But, for me, looking at this picture brings me such joy. I have a veggie and herb garden, and in that garden I am growing food - Wow! Tiny harvests of food, but food, never-the-less. How very exciting.

You can also see my new pride-of-joy in there, too: a compost tumbler bin. I picked it second-hand up for a fifth of the price of a new one and it is already churning up some mighty compost and the kids think it is fun to turn it over (start 'em young, I say!).

Today it is Boxing Day. Our fridge is full of Christmas day leftovers; the kids are happily playing in the backyard, I am on holidays and friends are dropping over for lunch - I may just go and pick a handful of herbs for a salad... such a simple pleasure.

Wishing you all the very best for 2012. I do hope it is full of joy for you.