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RE: straw or hay bale gardens? (Follow-Up #49)

posted by: tkctwbd on 04.18.2006 at 09:05 pm in Garden Experiments Forum

Yes, I AM trying to grow tomatoes in bales of straw! I understand that tomatoes, okra, peppers, squash and cukes can be grown this way. The big thing apparently is the prepping of the straw.

Anyway it goes like this: Days 1-3: Water the bales thoroughly and keep them wet. Days 4-6: Sprinkle the bales with 1/2 cup ammonium nitrate (32-0-0) per bale per day, and water it well into the bales. Days 7-9: Cut back to 1/4 cup ammonium nitrate per bale per day and continue to water it in well. Day 10: No more ammonium nitrate, but add 1 cup of 10-10-10 fertilizer per bale and water it well. Day 11: Transplant plants into the bales.

(Use a spatula to make a crack in the bale for each plant.) Place the plant down to its first leaf and close the crack back together as best you can. Apparently you can use two tomato plants per bale, 3 peppers, 2 squash, 2 sets of cucumbers. You would definitely need to stake the tomatoes, and possibly the peppers.


clipped on: 03.24.2010 at 11:15 pm    last updated on: 03.24.2010 at 11:15 pm

RE: straw or hay bale gardens? (Follow-Up #31)

posted by: Tony_K_Orlando on 03.14.2004 at 07:04 am in Garden Experiments Forum

Morning Bazza,

I only add a little fert maybe every two weeks. I use orchid fert because it does NOT use urea as Nitro. From my hydro dabbling, urea requires some sort of soil element to help it break down to a plant usable form, so, no soil, no urea for me or bale. Plus I use this fert for everything. This fert can be bought most everywhere and has the right balance of npk.

IF I could only find bales for less than 5 bucks, Id consider way more.

Bale planting seems VERY rewarding.

Good luck



clipped on: 03.24.2010 at 11:10 pm    last updated on: 03.24.2010 at 11:10 pm

RE: straw or hay bale gardens? (Follow-Up #27)

posted by: Old_West_Aussie on 03.10.2004 at 07:49 am in Garden Experiments Forum

I use straw in no-dig gardening. Straw is better because there is less grain in it to sprout.
No dig gardening is good for people with disabilities, spread old newspaper over the ground about 6 to 10 pages thick and overlap edges, cover with straw about 30cm thick (1 foot) cover that with good compost and water well. Let stand for 2-3 days, water again and plant your seedlings. I planted 15 tomato seedlings (roma)and was picking up to 10kg a day.
The paper on the ground also prevents weeds from coming through.



clipped on: 03.24.2010 at 10:48 pm    last updated on: 03.24.2010 at 10:48 pm

RE: straw or hay bale gardens? (Follow-Up #22)

posted by: vmperkins on 11.01.2003 at 09:48 pm in Garden Experiments Forum

I just scored 8 bales of straw for 8 dollars--they were left over from a Halloween display and the store wanted to clear them out.

Anyway, I use it for mulch (soil underneath is beautiful!) and in compost and lasagna gardening, and this fall, I am going to make a kind of cold frame for some plants I want to try harvesting in the winter. They are now in my greenhouse but it is not very airtight so it gets too cold.

To answer some questions: from what I understand, straw is what is left after cereal grains are harvested. Hay is made of mixed grasses (often with seedheads). Straw has less chance of sprouting anything since the seedheads are removed, but hay is full of seed. Hay breaks down sooner; straw is tougher.

Where can one get it? I don't know for your area; I never saw straw bales when I lived in NYC or Long Island, I think because there are not many cereal grains grown locally. I assume that is true of NJ also. I live in the midwest now and they are available everywhere--groceries, hardware stores, garden centers, produce stands...I would check farm stores, garden centers, and feed stores.

I love straw bales and can't get enough of them.



clipped on: 03.24.2010 at 10:47 pm    last updated on: 03.24.2010 at 10:47 pm

RE: straw or hay bale gardens? (Follow-Up #16)

posted by: hunter_tx on 03.29.2003 at 09:52 pm in Garden Experiments Forum

I started using stray and hay as mulch a couple of years ago and have been very pleased with the results. I have found that the straw, just left in place and not tossed around creates a great layer of soil just beneath it. I just push the hay in areas where I want to transplant various plants, pack it back around the plant base, and it really helps keep the moisture consistent. It has cut down on weeding very significantly. My favorite for mulch is probably alfalfa hay, but in my experience, it tends to break down faster and requires more frequent replacement. It's too hot here to try planting in just hay or straw. I'm a fan of low water usage, and can't imagine having to continuously drip irrigate anything.
Mrs H


clipped on: 03.24.2010 at 10:46 pm    last updated on: 03.24.2010 at 10:46 pm

RE: help me make good soil.. the easy way? (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: kimmsr on 03.06.2010 at 07:52 am in Soil Forum

You need to delve into your soil and learn some more about it and these simple soil tests can help answer the questions above,
1) Structure. From that soil sample put enough of the rest to make a 4 inch level in a clear 1 quart jar, with a tight fitting lid. Fill that jar with water and replace the lid, tightly. Shake the jar vigorously and then let it stand for 24 hours. Your soil will settle out according to soil particle size and weight. A good loam will have about 1-3/4 inch (about 45%) of sand on the bottom. about 1 inch (about 25%) of silt next, about 1 inch (25%) of clay above that, and about 1/4 inch (about 5%) of organic matter on the top.
2) Drainage. Dig a hole 1 foot square and 1 foot deep and fill that with water. After that water drains away refill the hole with more water and time how long it takes that to drain away. Anything less than 2 hours and your soil drains too quickly and needs more organic matter to slow that drainage down. Anything over 6 hours and the soil drains too slowly and needs lots of organic matter to speed it up.

3) Tilth. Take a handful of your slightly damp soil and squeeze it tightly. When the pressure is released the soil should hold together in that clump, but when poked with a finger that clump should fall apart.

4) Smell. What does your soil smell like? A pleasant, rich earthy odor? Putrid, offensive, repugnant odor? The more organic matter in your soil the more active the soil bacteria will be and the nicer your soil will smell.

5) Life. How many earthworms per shovel full were there? 5 or more indicates a pretty healthy soil. Fewer than 5, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, indicates a soil that is not healthy.
and they can aid you in determining what you need to do with your soil to make it into a good, healthy soil.
Also you should contact your county office of the Washington State University Cooperative Extension Service about having a good, reliable soil test done.

Here is a link that might be useful: WSU CES


clipped on: 03.11.2010 at 09:50 pm    last updated on: 03.11.2010 at 09:50 pm

RE: House plant soil (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: rhizo_1 on 03.09.2010 at 09:49 am in Soil Forum

A potting medium doesn't need microorganisms, it needs a strong and porous physical structure. Most container soils don't last for very long before they collapse, making it more difficult for us to water them properly and more challenging for the plant to have ready access of oxygen at the roots. Used container medium does just fine when tossed out in the garden, or top-dressed over your lawn, however. I wouldn't consider that throwing it away.

Many of us mix our own container medium out of an assortment of products that insure durability and porosity. These would include conifer bark fines, granite grit, Turface (or similar), perlite, and perhaps a smattering of peat. A mix such as this will last longer.

You could improve your existing soil greatly by mixing a large percentage of the above ingredients before re-use this year.


clipped on: 03.11.2010 at 08:51 pm    last updated on: 03.11.2010 at 08:51 pm

RE: Country kitchen (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: arlosmom on 01.27.2010 at 10:35 am in Old House Forum

This was the inspiration photo that I used in planning my old house kitchen. While I didn't follow it closely, it's just how I wanted my kitchen to feel (from Martha Stewart's "How to decorate")

my inspiration kitchen

This is another kitchen that I love. I don't remember where I got this photo, but I love the warmth of the wood against the cabinets, appliances and tile.


I didn't end up with the space to pull off a table and chairs in my kitchen, but I would have loved that.


clipped on: 02.05.2010 at 11:03 pm    last updated on: 02.05.2010 at 11:03 pm

RE: Range they always need to be wider than the range (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: amcook on 01.21.2010 at 01:11 pm in Appliances Forum

With surrounding cabinets and, I'd assume, a back wall a 36" hood over a 36" range should work fine. Be prepared to have a little more grease collect on the edge of the cabinets and back wall. Routine cleaning should prevent any nasty build up. How high you mount your hood also plays in to the size of hood. Typically hoods are mounted around 30" from the top of the range but there's a pretty wide variation. I've seen people go as low as 25" or so. That's too low IMHO especially with higher end (i.e. higher BTU/h) cooking surfaces. At about 28-32" mounting height, standard 36" with cabinets and back wall should be fine. If you go as high as 36" or more, then I'd look at a hood that extends out farther from the back wall. This will allow it to capture the fumes coming away from the wall better.

I have an island configuration which is the worst since there's nothing to contain the fumes and sight lines are a concern. When we had our hood installed, the installer showed us what the recommended 30" height would look like. At that height, the bottom edge of the hood would be right at the bridge of my nose which would block the sight line across the island and I think cause me to bump my head if I had to lean across to reach the back burners. I ended up having him move it up to between 34-36" position which worked a lot better. Fortunately, we did have the foresight to oversize our hood. In the end, you will have to make your own trade offs between performance, aesthetics, and cost.


clipped on: 01.30.2010 at 10:50 am    last updated on: 01.30.2010 at 10:51 am

RE: aga or other non ss range wanted (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: shannonplus2 on 01.17.2010 at 06:49 pm in Appliances Forum

Cosmocat - It sounds like we need to veer off from what I originally responded to (you looking for a non-SS range), and discuss instead one of the most common questions and decisions on this forum--whether to have a range or cooktop/wall ovens instead. You should do a search on the forum on this topic, and read all the threads, as this is a major decision and you should be happy given the expenditure you'll make. But, in reading your OP, your mentions of family of 5, parties, people bringing food over that needs to be kept warm...those things would lead me to recommend you have a 36" cooktop with 2 wall ovens, or cooktop and 1 wall oven + micro/convection wall oven or Advantium-type oven. A 36" range just provides you with one oven, and it sounds to me like you are needing two. Furthermore, a 36" wide oven takes a long time to heat up. If you are cooking and keeping warm multiple dishes, that potentially need different temps, it would be better to have two ovens--whether two traditional wall ovens or 1 wall oven and a micro-convection or Advantium or something like that. Also the 36" separate cooktop would give you the number of burners you'd need for a family of 5 or for multiple dishes brought over by friends. A 36" cooktop is also great cause it gives some cooktop real estate if you are using, say 3 burners, and want to have a spot to set down two other pans somewhere even if they don't need heating.

Anyway, I think you need to do some more reading on the Gardenweb on this topic. Use the search box on this forum and the Kitchens Forum for topics like "30" or 36" range", "cooktop or range", and the like.


clipped on: 01.29.2010 at 10:21 pm    last updated on: 01.29.2010 at 10:21 pm

RE: Grow light information Arena here! (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: ralleia on 12.11.2006 at 07:07 pm in Growing under Lights Forum


You sound almost as obsessive-compulsive as I am. I've got four 40W cool whites running to help with my SAD and my tomato seedlings. Are the daylight bulbs more expensive than cool white? If so, you might save a few bucks toward that T5 luminaire by using cool whites for general plant growth--according to an article I read from U of Alaska's Extension service they're as good or better than the more expensive specialty fluorescents for plant growth (

The only caveat might be during the flowering and fruiting stage, when the red spectrum will be more important.

ledaero -- Cool setup! I've been researching LEDs for plant growth, but haven't taken the plunge yet because their lumen efficacy isn't yet enough to justify their high initial cost. The good news (for us plant fanatics, at least!) is that red is most efficient. Here's a re-hash of something I posted on the lighting forum:

Red LEDs were best at 55 lumens per watt (lpw)
White LEDs were 25-29 lpw
Blue was weakest at 10 lpw

For reference, lumen efficacy of other common lamp types are:

standard incandescents : 5 - 18 lpw
tungsten halogen: 15 - 25 lpw
low-wattage compact fluorescent : 20 - 55 lpw
high-wattage compact fluorescent : 50 - 80 lpw
linear fluorescent : 65 - 95 lpw
metal halide : 40- 60 lpw (and 65-80% lumen depreciation)
sodium : 100 lpw (and 10% lumen depreciation)

LEDs have been doubling in lumen efficacy every 18-24 months, while the price has been decreasing by 20% per year. By about 2010 white LEDs should bust the 200 lpw mark, while the price will have dropped exponentially as well.

Lumen depreciation data is sketchy for LEDs due to their relative newness. I did find an article on Compound that showed reds to be most stable, with white faring worst. chart showing lumen depreciation Again, good news for us plant fanatics.


clipped on: 01.26.2010 at 09:54 pm    last updated on: 01.26.2010 at 09:54 pm

RE: building a greenhouse out of old windows (Follow-Up #51)

posted by: wildlifegardenermt on 07.09.2009 at 11:58 pm in Greenhouses & Garden Structures Forum

Here are a couple of great references that will have the answers to all your questions, and much more.
"How to Build Your Own Greenhouse" Roger Marshall
"Greenhouse Gardener's Companion" Shane Smith
"Four Season Harvest" Elliot Coleman

Good luck!


clipped on: 01.23.2010 at 04:02 pm    last updated on: 01.23.2010 at 04:02 pm

RE: building a greenhouse out of old windows (Follow-Up #47)

posted by: wildlifegardenermt on 06.23.2009 at 04:22 pm in Greenhouses & Garden Structures Forum

Here is a link to my blog with pictures of the greenhouse I built almost exclusively with recycled, reused or repurposed materials. I hope it is helpful. I also posted a similar link under "recycled greenhouse"- I hope it is not a problem to double post links.

Here is a link that might be useful: Salvaged material greenhouse pics and info


clipped on: 01.23.2010 at 04:00 pm    last updated on: 01.23.2010 at 04:00 pm

RE: building a greenhouse out of old windows (Follow-Up #44)

posted by: wyndyacre on 08.16.2008 at 05:17 pm in Greenhouses & Garden Structures Forum

Well rats, I forgot to load the photo! Here it is...

Greenhouse, coldframe and veggie garden.


clipped on: 01.23.2010 at 03:55 pm    last updated on: 01.23.2010 at 03:56 pm

RE: Some Greenhouse Photos (Follow-Up #44)

posted by: wyndyacre on 01.02.2008 at 05:36 pm in Greenhouses & Garden Structures Forum

Rjinga-We didn't build the coldframe ourselves....we got it for free! (Please don't hate me, LOL) When I was taking the Hort Course at the college, it was rotting away behind the GH. The first year, I asked if I could buy it but they wanted to keep it for a while. The second year, they offered it to me for free. I got a trailer and took it away that afternoon before they could change their mind!
I had to repair some hinges, replace missing screws that held the polycarbonate on, put some handles on the lids and stain it. And it had over 15 yellow jacket wasp nests in it!

I have to say I don't think the sliding glass doors would make very good cold frame lids. They a VERY heavy and would be difficult to lift. I also know from experience that the wind loves to grab stuff like that and fling it around. (Even the polycarbonate lids have been grabbed and ripped off before we devised a system that both props them open and holds them down, with broom sticks and bungee cords) I would hate to see the same thing happen to glass lids!

You could, perhaps, use them as the back wall of the cold frame and try to find something else to use as the lids. Even a wood frame with plastic sheeting stapled to it.


clipped on: 01.23.2010 at 03:50 pm    last updated on: 01.23.2010 at 03:50 pm

RE: Some Greenhouse Photos (Follow-Up #39)

posted by: wyndyacre on 01.01.2008 at 06:35 pm in Greenhouses & Garden Structures Forum

Zengeos, the great thing about having the GH and coldframes and learning how to propagate, is that it is like owning your own nursery. With this extensive of a garden, I always have plants and shrubs that I can divide or "assist" in air layering then pot up, grow on in the GH or coldframe and stockpile for when I want to create a new bed or fill in a spot. Once you've bought a really nice variety of shrub, you can make as many as you like! Potted up right now, waiting for spring to plant are Cream Cracker Dogwood, Golden Ninebark, White Variegated Elder, Purple Smokebush and Doublefile Viburnam.
I've got a couple River Birch also-love them for the bark and the catkins that still cling to them in the winter. Would like to try to propagate them and plant a whole grove.
In a couple weeks, I'm going to stick cuttings of boxwood to make a low hedge around my raised bed veg garden. And I have a lot of redbud tree seeds I'm going to sow. I have 9 redbud trees already and love them-I want more!

You won't believe how fast your garden will mature in a few years. It's always surprising to look at photos that are a couple years old. Trees and shrubs seemingly grow without you ever noticing until you see an old photo.

Some well placed structures or art is important to giving the garden some winter interest as well. My garden is 1 acre in size and seemed very empty in the winter until I started building arbours, the GH and placing statues, bird houses and feeders, large pots and items of sculptural interest like a few farm wheels and implements. I didn't want things to look too cluttered-I'm aiming for a more formal, woodland look eventually. I admire the English estate gardens with mature trees and plantings and well placed art.


clipped on: 01.23.2010 at 03:48 pm    last updated on: 01.23.2010 at 03:48 pm

RE: Some Greenhouse Photos (Follow-Up #38)

posted by: zengeos on 01.01.2008 at 05:36 pm in Greenhouses & Garden Structures Forum

Wyndy...I am slowly planting trees and moderate success. 5 or 6 Col Blue Spruce, 2 Weeping Spruce, 2 Weeping White Pines, a half dozen lilacs, a half dozen decid azaleas....and a few others I forget.

Of course, the 8 upright willows in front...30' tall in 5 years not bad! helps give privacy in the summer (going to use branches from these in making some fedge structures this year, I think...

I also have a half dozen River Birch I planted as whips... several are almost 15 feet high and have quite pretty bark year round.

Still, compared to your plot mine looks barren!!! especially in Winter.

In a couple or 3 years, I hope this changes dramatically as the new beds mature.

My game plan is to continually expand my flower AND vbeggie beds. I've doubled both in size this year (actually tripled flower beds) and plan to double the flower gardens again next year. The beautiful thing is I am reaching a momentum where I have the basic fill lilies, hostas, and other hardy, easy to grow plants and just need to broaden my species.


clipped on: 01.23.2010 at 03:46 pm    last updated on: 01.23.2010 at 03:46 pm

RE: Some Greenhouse Photos (Follow-Up #26)

posted by: mudhouse on 11.05.2007 at 11:47 am in Greenhouses & Garden Structures Forum

You've done wonderful things there! I love the story about the school kids planting the trees on Arbor day in 1939!

Our last home was a 1930's farmhouse we spent 13 years restoring. Not a historical structure (like yours) in any sense, but over the years I kept a messy folder with tidbits of info about previous owners or the house. Articles in county history books, deeds from the courthouse, etc. One day a woman walked into our shop and said her family had owned it in the 1940's, and she gave us xeroxed family photos taken in the yard. We were thrilled!

When we put the house up for sale, I organized all the stuff and put it in a notebook with a 1940 photo on the cover. In the back was a list of previous owners, with a blank space for the new owner. I think the documented history helped the appeal of the place (the appraiser turned out to be an old house/history buff, can't hurt!) More importantly, the information is saved for the future. All those great stories get lost in the mists of time if no one ferrets them out like you have. Good for you! :-)


clipped on: 01.23.2010 at 03:42 pm    last updated on: 01.23.2010 at 03:42 pm

RE: Some Greenhouse Photos (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: wyndyacre on 11.01.2007 at 06:29 pm in Greenhouses & Garden Structures Forum

Thank you all for the kind comments.
I think my photos on the other threads disappeared because I did some arranging into albums in Photobucket, after I had posted them. I'll know not to do that again.

Well, the generating money from the GH just evolved as I needed some extra income (I only work seasonally)and I needed to keep my acre garden under control. I hope to land a fulltime, year round job eventually and not have to do the sale. It's fortunate that I enjoy propagating but it is an enormous amount of work and I hope to get my life back one day!

John-I don't think I'm using Mike McGroarty's system. I don't know what it is. :) Enlighten me?

Greenhouser-I don't fit all those flats in there at once. I start digging plants from my garden in March or as soon as the ground thaws and make small divisions into 3" pots. I grow them on for a week or two in the GH and as they are quite hardy, then move them out to the coldframe.
When the next batch is ready, I move the coldframe plants outdoors and GH plants to the CF and start all over again.
Since different perennials come up earlier than others, I start digging those first and somehow it all works out in the end.
Of course plants started from seed get a little more TLC and get hardened off more gradually.

It does tend to get a little crowded in there when I'm in full swing.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Then they get moved to the coldframe...
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


clipped on: 01.23.2010 at 03:34 pm    last updated on: 01.23.2010 at 03:35 pm

Some Greenhouse Photos

posted by: wyndyacre on 10.31.2007 at 10:42 pm in Greenhouses & Garden Structures Forum

We built my 10x16 greenhouse 5 years ago. After taking a propagation course at the local college and being able to use their GH for several months, I decided I couldn't live without one. :)

We used salvaged windows for the glass, salvaged doors, an old deck for 1/2 the floor and the other half is discounted paving stone. The walls that aren't glass are insulated and the north side of the roof is insulated and asphalt shingles. Several back and side windows open, I tie the doors open and there is an automatic venting window in the roof near the ridgeline.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
I have electricity, a telephone and fill a 50 g. barrel from a hose for water. I recently added a 3 tiered light stand, I found used and will use my heat mats on it this winter. We built benches from folding table legs and 1x1 deck ballisters spaced out on a wood frame. My potting table is a recycled kitchen counter with new paint and hardware. We built a sliding bin under the sink to store ProMix.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

A pool cover goes over it for winter and it's heated to 45-50* at night and attains 80-85* during a sunny day. It's heated with a oil filled electric space heater. In the summer, I lower bamboo shades on the south front windows.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I built it so I could grow perennials from seeds and divisions and start shrubs from cuttings to increase my acre garden (which I do) but it has become a source of income in that I started having a huge plant sale yearly. Starting in Feb. for seeds and March for divisions, I start churning out perennials thru the GH, then coldframe and onto a outdoor holding area until the plant sale. I sold 2,000+ plants in about 6 hours this year!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


clipped on: 01.23.2010 at 03:33 pm    last updated on: 01.23.2010 at 03:33 pm

another pic

posted by: rafor on 10.25.2009 at 11:46 am in Garden Junk Forum

So it only let me post one picture. Here's another view.

Image link: another pic (58 k)


clipped on: 01.23.2010 at 03:15 pm    last updated on: 01.23.2010 at 03:15 pm

One more pic

posted by: rafor on 10.25.2009 at 11:48 am in Garden Junk Forum

Last in progress picture. Just also realized I posted this in the junk forum instead of the greenhouse one. But I guess since I recycled all these windows and doors it might just qualify as junk!

Image link: One more pic (59 k)


clipped on: 01.23.2010 at 02:57 pm    last updated on: 01.23.2010 at 02:57 pm

my new greenhouse from old windows

posted by: rafor on 10.25.2009 at 11:43 am in Garden Junk Forum

Here are some photos of the progress we have made so far on the greenhouse. We used old windows and new French doors. Even the roof is made from old windows.

Image link: my new greenhouse from old windows (59 k)


clipped on: 01.23.2010 at 02:51 pm    last updated on: 01.23.2010 at 02:55 pm