A straw BALE, to be exact. Something I had never heard of, nor thought of, before a few weeks ago. But… Hear me out… It makes so much sense (and I’m praying it’s fool-proof enough that I actually succeed at growing something).
A forever (or, at least for-now) home!
To start, lets talk the goods. It should be noted that you should NEVER throw out the base of your lettuce once you’ve cut off the leaves. Lettuce is super easy to grow and takes up very little space in your garden. Before you know it, you can be saving yourself so much money by growing the base of your salads at home!
Once you’ve cut all of the leaves off, simply take the base of the lettuce and place it in a shallow bowl with just enough water to soak the very bottom of the base. Refill water every few days (they’re thirsty little guys!) and, I promise, within a week you’ll have little sprouts:
I’m slightly obsessed with anything little (including sprouts)!
Once the sprouts have sprung (!) you’re ready to plant! Lettuce grows best in mild weather (think spring and fall) and is easy to tuck in-between and under taller veggies or flowers. It grow fastest in direct sun, but can tolerate some shade. And, the best part is that once it’s ready to harvest, you can just cut the leaves from the outside of the plant, leaving the bud to sprout new ones. It’s the gift that keeps on giving and it’s practically fool-proof (here’s to hoping I don’t eat my words – no pun intended – on this one!).
Enter straw bales. Below are a few facts that I found most interesting about straw-bale farming:
- Good potting mix is expensive, while straw is cheap (straw: 1, soil: 0)
- Straw bale gardens are elevated and, therefore, are easier on the back and body when tending to crops
- The inside of the straw bale stays very warm (think 90 degrees), even when the outside temperature is cold, allowing those of you in cooler weather to get a jump start on gardening, despite the season
- Plants don’t need to be tilled when planted in straw
- Straw makes great fertilizer (again, saving you $$!) – the decomposition of straw makes great soil so you’re basically composting WHILE you grow
- Weeds don’t grow in straw
- Straw has excellent drainage and moisture holding properties – a bonus for the environment AND your water bill (again, $$$!)
Our straw bales (surrounded by radishes and beans)
Elliott (see previous blog post) has been tending to our bales for a few weeks now so when I was ready to plant my lettuce yesterday they were super moisturized and ready to go. I simply dug a small hole with my shovel (about twice the size of the base of the lettuce I was planting), put in a little bit of soil, stuck the base of the lettuce in, patted soil down and around the base, and watered. And that was it! We’ll see if it works, but I’ve got a pretttttttty good feeling it will!
Tomorrow we pick up our first flock of baby chicks! If you’ve never heard of a Silkie chicken, do yourself a favor and Google one IMMEDIATELY. And stay tuned for pics: @NatalieBrynYoga – Instagram.