Tuesday, June 9, 2015

GARDENING - Straw Bale Progress

I had planned this post for yesterday but woke up to storms so I dove into cleaning the house and didn't stop. I didn't want the cleaning to be yet another 'partial' project. So I did not plug the internet in, even after the storms passed.

While not planted in straw bales, I do have my potatoes planted in straw - in tires. As you can see, the two red potatoes in the background are ready for a third tier. I'll add another tire, more straw and continue to water. The reason for using the tires rather than the straw bales is that by using the bales, I would only get one year's use out of them. This way I can use the tires from year to year. 

The red potatoes are Ruby Sensation. They are about the size of new red potatoes and are only 100 calories per 4 potatoes. The two tires in the middle are Yellow Golds. Similar to the red ones but yellow ;-) They are not doing as well as their red cousins. Then the tire in the foreground is one of 4 that have Sweet Potatoes. They got a later start.

At the opposite end of the bed from the potato tires is the base of the U-shaped bale bed. This is where I've planted the cherry tomatoes. Their trellis is the springs base from my granddaughter's old crib. (though you can see 2 cattle panel sections leaning behind it. Those will be moved for cucumbers)

This is to the right of the cherry tomatoes down the side. In the background you can just make out my pepper plants - 5 bell peppers and 3 banana peppers. Then in the foreground I have 28 sweet onions.

This is the left side... Four bales of Cucumbers. Then in the background there is a bale of carrots and one of beets.

Sad Peas

 Sad Beans

Neither of these are doing well. I think probably because they were planted too late. I'll do better next spring. But at least I know these do work.

Amish Paste Tomatoes

Better Boy Tomatoes

There are 10 bales along this fence line. Prior to using the straw bales, this was my traditional tomato row. (though I did test-run 8 plants in bales on this fence last year).  Tomatoes are doing well, but then they are one of the easiest garden plants to grow with the brownist of thumb.

You will notice some empty bales between the 2 varieties of tomatoes. Next week, I'll show you what I'm putting in there.

While I'm trying to breathe life back into my blogs, posts will not be numerous for the month of June. We have family visiting nearly every day this month. So hang with me ;-)

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


Anyone who lives where there is an abundance of rocks in the ground, poor soil and clay know these are not the best conditions for growing plants. There has to be an easier way. Some of gone to raised beds, square foot gardening and container gardens. These are all excellent ways to provide good soil for growing and fewer weeds to pull. 

Last year, I came across the above book and knew I wanted to give it a try. Basically, you spend 10-15 days prepping the bales so that they begin to break down inside, providing compost to plant in. While you can not plant in them year after year as you can the ground, you can possibly get 2, maybe even 3 years of bale use. Then you simply turn them into mulching compost and start new bales. 

I tried a short row of four bales last year for tomatoes and was very happy with the outcome so this year I stepped into full straw bale garden mode. The previous link takes you to the one shown. There has since been an UPDATED version released by the same author. I've gotten my sister involved and we've joined a Facebook group.

While I have stuff growing in them now.. here are pics of the set-up process.

The main bed. There are now a total of 15 bales forming this horseshoe. The rack in the foreground is not there anymore. That is an old card rack from a store that will become a flower tower next year.

The two trellis' are for green beans. I broke down the tomato bales from last year and used them as the planting medium. The empty space on the left now has a bale with a trellis for Snow Peas

You can just see the edge of this in the previous picture. These 6 bales are planted with Peas. The swing set frame is covered in chicken wire.

You can see how the main bed finished out in the back ground. These are the first of a total of 7 towers of tires for potatoes. I have 2 each of Red and White potatoes plus 3 for Sweet potatoes.

Putting this garden together has been a lot of work but I'm happy with the results so far. Next week I'll show you some pictures of growth as well a share a green house 'oops' courtesy of my husband.

Monday, June 1, 2015


I took this picture at the fish hatchery in Roaring River State Park last fall. I love visiting the hatchery and driving through the park. I also enjoy stopping to watch the trout just short of beg for food in the large pond fed primarily from this underground spring and fall. Very relaxing place to visit.. and to rejuvinate the spirit.

After an incredibly lost year in 2014, I'm trying to get back in the swing of things and this blog has been let go far too long. I will need some time to get things back up to speed and where I truly want them to be. I'm searching for a balance. About the time I posted last, the freelance opened up for me in a torrent of connections and options so that is where I directed almost all of my energy.

Then in June of last year, my first book was released through Borroughs Publishing Group. Somewhere Down the Line is one of those stories my heart just had to spill and I'm very proud of the book. I spent the rest of my free time promoting the book and planning my next.

In October we signed to build an addition to our house. My dream office/ art studio began going up in November... most of the time of which I was sick with a sinus infection and vertigo from both ears. Add the holidays to follow and that about sums up my 2014.

2015 got off to a rocky start where I just had a challenge finding my groove. After six months of being pulled in different directions, I'm finally on the road I want to be on. 

I'll be making some schedule changes over the coming weeks. There are still things I want to include, but probably not right away. For now I'll be focusing on Photo Journey and Gardening. Everything else will find its home in time. 

I hope you'll join me as I rejuvenate An Ozarks Journal
~ Kelly