Growing annual vegetables on hay bales is a way to rapidly add lots of compostable organic matter to the soil’s surface in a short period of time. Here’s the recipe (See illustration from Designing & Maintaining Your Edible Landscape - Naturally) based on my trial garden in 1977!
· Place four or more bales of hay (which has lots of fresh, green nutrients) or straw (with more carbon than green nutrients) in a cluster. Place the bales on their sides, with the end grain facing up, and leave the strings on them.
· Thoroughly soak the cluster of bales..
· Add an three-thick layer of fresh manure to the top (in this case, the exposed end grain) of the bales.
· Add four or more inches of soil to cap off the top of the bales. (All right, I know this requires some digging. But it’s only a one-time effort to start of a remarkable process.)
· Water all the layers again.
· Plant potatoes with plenty of loose straw on top—six inches or more.
· Keep the potatoes and bales moist.
Et voilá! The bales will grow potatoes above the ground where no gophers can get to them.
After one seasonof planting and harvest, the bales will have rotted down quite a bit. (See the photo.) Plant them with bush beans, fava beans, other types of beans or potatoes again.
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