The garden Siri built: straw bales lift vegie production to new heights

Categories: 

by: 

Kate Aley

Those who love summer veggies know that raised gardens are easier to tend and that heavy mulching with straw helps to keep weeds down and hold precious moisture in the soil… but what happens when you build your raised beds with straw? This year Siri Ingebrigsten, of Avant-Garde Equestrian Farm in Luskville, found out. Pontiac 2020.ca asked her about her horticultural adventure.

Pontiac2020.ca: (P2020.ca): Where did you first see the idea for a straw bale garden?

Siri Ingebrigsten (SI): I saw it for the first time maybe four years ago when it popped up on my Facebook feed. I’m not sure what group was talking about it but it looked like such a brilliant idea, especially the fact that there was little weeding and bending involved with taking care of it. 

P2020.ca: Describe how the garden was put together.

SI: I have twelve bales placed in three rows of four. Each row is supported by T-posts on both ends and I ran hay-bale twine between the T-posts along the rows to support the plants. The centres of the bales are ‘conditioned’ using a natural fertilizer made of high nitrogen content solution made with plenty of water.

P2020.ca:  Is rotting down the center of the bales difficult?

SI: No, I don't believe it is. The original conditioning of the bales takes some time and, despite wanting to try this every summer, this was the first year I actually got around to it. The exact way and time frame will depend on weather and reaction within the bale. Basically, you start decomposition by adding the nitrogen and water. This causes high temperatures in the straw and you can only plant once the internal temperature has lowered to the temperature in the air. The directions said it should take two weeks, but it took me closer to four due to the cold, dry spring. 

P2020.ca: Were you impressed at how many plants you could get in such a small space?

SI: I was impressed and I have kept adding things on the sides of the bales. It’s really neat how many things you can squish in there. I planted root veggies between above-ground fruits and veggies. It's a learning experience, as some heavier and taller plants tend to 'slide', so the garden has required extra bracing.  

P2020.ca: Have there been drawbacks to gardening like this?

SI: The time and energy it took to get it going surprised me, plus it is pretty water intensive especially as the summer has been so dry and hot. But it has been lovely with the last days of rain…The bales keep the moisture quite well so, once they are soaked, they stay humid longer than the ground garden. Apparently you can also use hay bales and they are supposed to provide even more nutrients to the plants, but there is also more growth from the hay seeds so I’m not sure if it's worth the extra effort. I might try both types next year. 

P2020.ca: What happens to the bales at the end of the season?

SI: The bales go right on our compost pile and will be a super addition to the pile. They can also be left in a heap and allowed to break down further during the fall/winter and then used in the spring to nourish the ground garden or the next straw garden. I did end up adding some soil to the bales on top of them to create a better base for the seeds.  

 P2020.ca: Would you recommend trying a straw bale garden?

SI: For sure. It's relatively easy and would be great for any age group. Kids would love it and elderly would have an easier time maintaining this kind of garden. I will become braver with different types of plants as I gain experience. This year I have potatoes, carrots, sweet corn, three varieties of tomatoes, ornamental eggplant, green and purple basil, edible flowers, cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, leeks, different types of lettuce and peas. I'm sure there are more things but can't remember off-hand!

Nos autres nouvelles / Our other News

Riding in style: massive upgrade to Pontiac bus route

Categories: 

by: 

Kate Aley

It's smooth and it's quiet with internet access, a 36" flat screen TV and reclining seats and it leaves Allumette Island at 10 minutes to 5 am every day. This is the new coach that runs Route 148 and you can be on it. This week, riders taking the Campeau Bus Line to the city were treated to a brand-new luxury coach, a demonstration vehicle in service before the permanent vehicle becomes available in about a weeks time.

Slipping back: background facts

Categories: 

by: 

Kate Aley

Welcome back. While I wait for my file on the accident (December 4) to be retrieved by the MRC des Collines police, I placed calls to two local people, experts on the trucking of manure. For those who are coming in late to this, see my previous "slippery" stories archived here.

Slippery story: the update

Categories: 

by: 

Kate Aley

On Monday December 4, a serious accident was caused by some kind of slippery fluid being splashed all over the highway in Luskville. Many people commented on the unexpectedly deep puddles, the effort it took to stay on the road and the horrible stink of it. There was so much, a snow plow was called in to strip it off the road. What was that stuff? Where did it come from? I managed to find someone to talk to from the MTQ within two days. But as yet, my attempts to get information about this incident from the MRC des Collines police have been unproductive. 

Warming up for Christmas at the Santa Claus Parade

Categories: 

by: 

Kate Aley

Once more the Quyon Lions' Club Santa Claus Parade, held Saturday December 9, was a great success. Warmly-dressed families lined the streets to enjoy the decorated floats, horses and of course, St. Nick himself. As the Beach Barn is conspicuously absent this year, the parade's normal route was reversed, with participants gathering at the Ste. Marie's Catholic church parking lot and walking down the hill to the intersection with Clarendon. From there, the parade continued to the Onslow Elementary School gym where hot food and drinks were served as kids lined up to speak to Santa about a few important matters.

Slippery sh*t: unidentified effluent causes accident

Categories: 

by: 

Kate Aley

A serious single-vehicle roll-over was caused early morning on December 4 by a deep slick of some kind of waste matter spilled on Highway 148 near Parker Road in Luskville. Pools of what appeared to be septic waste or liquid animal manure were at least two or three meters in length and possibly 4 cm in depth, according to witnesses.

Christmas House Tour lights up the night

Categories: 

by: 

Kate Aley

The houses on the Quyon Pastoral Charge Christmas House Tour warmly received 150 visitors this year. Five family homes in Quyon and Luskville were decorated to perfection to the appreciation of all. Above, the Draper homestead in Luskville.

Pages