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Re: Gardeners Corner
25 Sep 2014, 05:51
So here it is. My DS bought a book called Straw Bale Gardens, by Joel Karsten. It's about making gardens in straw bales. First you arrange your bales. Then for 10 days you condition the bales with fertiliser. We're using blood and bone, going for the organic option. Each bale takes 3 cups of B & B every 2nd day. You saturate the bales with water. On Day 10 you add some potassium and K - phosphorus? we'll do fish meal or seaweed or something. Then you can plant into the straw. You use potting mix and make holes in the straw. This creates a weed free, disease free medium to grow plants. You can also layer a few inches of seed raising mix along the top and plant seeds. Weeds are a big problem in our garden. The soil is so good, everything grows. But now, we have a 10 straw bale garden just about to start being conditioned. I have brought home a 10kg bag of B & B and we're going to supplement that with chook manure - since we have it in the chook sheds. The composting straw bales are warm as well, so we will get a head start in the season. OH has been working hard building raised beds, but now we just created a huge raised bed simply by dragging bales of straw into position. You could make a garden like this on concrete. It's such an exciting concept. I can't wait to see how it goes.
Re: Gardeners Corner
25 Sep 2014, 06:28
That sounds interesting Sallyo.. let us know how you go. And post pictures if you can Where to get straw bales? and how much are they?

My garden is loving the mild weather and ive never seen a potato crop so tall and a snow plant so tall either. 12 tomato seeds have sprouted (from seed) so challenge is to find where to put them.
Re: Gardeners Corner
25 Sep 2014, 06:35
That does indeed sound an exciting venture @Sallyo
Will wait for updates and hopefully photos with great anticipation!
Hope it goes well.
Re: Gardeners Corner
25 Sep 2014, 12:02
We get straw from local farmers, @julianaRivers. We always buy heaps of it when it's in season, for mulch and for the chook pens and so on. We're lucky.

Tomatoes you said. I have hundreds of seedlings! Tomorrow I will pot up the ones in the tray and God knows where to put them. They are all inside at the moment, beside the sunny French doors. My snow peas are tall too, but they're not flowering yet. I wish they would. First pick of asparagus tonight. Yum. We are also feeding ourselves with English spinach and rather mature lettuce. It's nice with a somewhat sweet dressing. I cut my last pumpkin. My next pumpkins are going to grow in the straw bale garden.

For all of you who want pictures, I haven't worked out how to put them on here.
Re: Gardeners Corner
25 Sep 2014, 13:01
I saw this being done at a living museum a couple of years ago. Once the bale had fallen apart it was used as a mulch for the rest of the garden.

The really traditional way to condition the bales was to pee on them. So get the chamber pot out or get hubby to sneak out when hes ready and pretend to be 5 years old again.
Re: Gardeners Corner
26 Sep 2014, 22:21
I like the idea of the straw bale garden [tag]Sallyo[tag][- look forward to hearing progress reports

Wondered if someone (possibly from southern hemisphere) could help me here - I grew bottlebrush plants from seed a few years ago - they have made good plants but show absolutely no sign of flowering. I was intending to keep one and give the others away when they flowered. If they won't flower I can't really justify the space they are taking up so will chuck them. I put them outside for the summer and they are in the conservatory for the winter, which is heated.

I just wondered if they maybe need to get colder in winter to shock them into flowering - whether to put them outside in the greenhouse (where they could get frosted).

Any ideas?
Re: Gardeners Corner
26 Sep 2014, 23:43
Ooh lovely to see this thread, I have been gardening so keen to share

Was away a few weeks ago and as I was coming back down our road I wished DH had ordered some good composted soil as my large veggie garden beds were a wreck. They needed a complete overhaul. A tree branch had fallen in some big winds and damaged the sides of our original raised bed and the soil had been faithfully used over a few seasons but needed revitalising so there was all up much work to be done. My darling as it happened had ordered the soil and since repaired the beds and filled them up with good new soil /compost. My attempts at composting also added and I got to work and now have a rather lot of lovely seedlings settling in and sprinklings of saved herb seeds also happily sprouting which means I now have 2 beds full of various plants.

Love going out each morning to inspect the veggie patch. Hooroo as the kettle is on the boil. Also Just had an unusual experiencing connecting with a wild red king parrot who has been wanting to say hello. He figured out how to land on my kitchen window sill this time and stayed a good while whilst he and I tried to chatter to each other. Was rather strange and lovely :smile: deeply touched as I moved carefully and he allowed me to be only a foot from him
Re: Gardeners Corner
27 Sep 2014, 01:30
@madcatlady, I can't help you with your bottle brush question. I don't know how big they are before they flower. Possibly quite big. As to whether they are frost sensitive or not, or whether they need cold to flower, it would depend on which kind of bottle brush it is. Do you know? There would be bottle brushes adapted to various climates, some frost hardy, some not. If you know the species name, I can look it up for you.

I did my Day 1 on my straw bales yesterday. It took ages to wet them thoroughly. We mixed up a trug of blood and bone and chook manure from the floor of the chook shed. Today is Day2 and I only have to water them. And yes, when it's all over, we can mulch all the fruit trees with the spent straw. I have made a plan and i intend to grow carrots, beetroot, parsnips, cucumbers, pumpkins and zucchini in the bales.

Love your story of the parrot, @Gillymary. I am reading a book about Australian birds at the moment, Where Song Began by Tim Low and he says parrots are smarter than dogs.
Re: Gardeners Corner
27 Sep 2014, 05:55
@Sallyo the parrot wanted to connect with me, our problem was no shared language. The same bird has been flying across when it sees me through the large windows at my sink and he lands on the guttering above and he swings his head down to see me and we have always had a chat of sorts. The last couple of days he has tried to land nearer me but hadn't managed to figure it out. Only a thin ledge and soft hedge and a big screened window. So I went outside to make it easier for him and was only a couple of feet away from him, leaving him on the bird seed stand I came back inside and he managed to land up close on the. Narrow window ledge and sat still and unperturbed while I approached him only 1 foot apart and we had a long time together. He was in no hurry to leave.

I would say he has been or is hand fed as he has no fear and is used to people. I do agree birds are very intelligent. I love birds and am calm and still for them if they are hovering close as I welcome the opportunity to closely admire them. Also rather than music I can just open up the window and listen for bird calls. Very peaceful
Re: Gardeners Corner
27 Sep 2014, 17:00
@Sallyo - I appear to have disposed of the seed packet but I have had an idea - maybe keep half of them in again this winter and put the other half in the greenhouse and see what happens.............

@gillymary - how wonderful to have a parrot visit you - we don't get many birds in our garden because of the cats but I love hearing when a flock of blue tits comes around and they all chatter to one another! Robins are fascinating too............we used to see some interesting birds at our caravan in Norfolk (woodpeckers, treecreepers and had a pheasant roost in a tree next to the van once!)
Re: Gardeners Corner
27 Sep 2014, 17:56
@gillymary I'm in the Midlands UK and have had bottle brush plants flower even though they are fully outside with no winter protection. I would say they probably need to be 2 years old to flower. A good sturdy metre tall. My new one didn't flower this year, it was bought as a 12 inch sapling.
Re: Gardeners Corner
27 Sep 2014, 21:01
@madcatlady - see @Julieathome post above.
Re: Gardeners Corner
27 Sep 2014, 21:04
Thanks @Sallyo and @Julieathome
Re: Gardeners Corner
27 Sep 2014, 22:31
Re: Gardeners Corner
28 Sep 2014, 09:37
I didn't mind @julieathome so lovely to see you on the forum, how are you going as you are a bit post surgery now.

As an Aussie wish I could have given advice about bottlebrush plants as they are Australian natives. But haven't got a clue sorry
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