Straw Bale Gardening!

STRAW BALE GARDENING

The Grange way!

Straw bale growing is a gardening method used for raising vegetables and herbs directly on a bale of straw!  Straw is preferable over other baled grasses, (orchard, timothy, etc) because they tend to have more weed and grass seeds.

 There are advantages to this type of gardening.

1 – The bales are not permanent and can be added to the compost pile at the end of the season.

2 –  No digging or soil prep is needed which means they can be grown on hard rocky surfaces with success.

3 – Weeds and garden pests will be held to a minimum.

Preparation

The bale should have two to three strands of twine holding it together.  Choose the area that will provide the most amount of sun exposure as well as water accessibility.  You can lay down landscape fabric to help prevent weeds from below.

 Days 1-3

Once the bales are set, water thoroughly and keep moist. This is important as the bales will start to create heat as they decompose.

Days 4-6

Sprinkle the top of each bale with one cup of Ammonium sulfate, (21-0-0). This speeds the decomposition process.  You can use organic nitrogen such as blood meal or fish meal but it will take longer to start the breakdown process of the bale.

 Day 7-10

Sprinkle ½ cup ammonium sulfate on top of the bale. 

Note – Although keeping the bales moist throughout the entire process is a critical, make sure not to over water which will leach out all the fertilizer and nutrients. 

Day 11

 Feel the heat on top of the bale. If too hot check every day until the bale cools to around 99 degrees or lower.

 Planting Methods

The bales should be ready for planting in about 3-4 weeks.

There are two ways to plant the bales; 

1 – Create pockets 3-4 inches deep and fill each with planting soil. The number of pockets will vary depending on what you are planting. This works well for plant starts

2 – Put a 3 inch layer of planting soil on top of the bale and plant directly into it.  This method works well for seeds

 Management

Watering is very important to straw bale gardening as the water moves through the straw quickly.

Drip irrigation hoses with timers can be very effective and take a lot of guess work out the process.

A regular fertilizing regimen should be established to replace nutrients being used by the microbes to break down the bale.

Nitrogen is normally the fastest to go.  A lack of nitrogen will result in the plants turning yellow, (chlorosis)

We recommend using a good organic fertilizer such as Gardener & Bloome specific to the particular crop, i.e, tomato vegetable, bud and bloom, etc. 

Fertilize every 3 weeks and water in lightly so as not to wash the fertilizer off. 

Weed control is usually not a major problem as the bale is above the ground surface and any that take root in the bale can be easily picked off.

Ground dwelling insects such as cutworms and root weevils will not be a problem as the bale is usually used for only one season which breaks their life cycle.

Other harmful pests can be controlled by the use of Bon-neem, pyrethrins, or beneficial insects.

At the completion of the growing year the bales can be recycled in the compost pile or simply worked into the existing soil.

 

POTATO PLANTING

Planting Potatoes

Potatoes are easy to grow in the Northwest.  They can be grown in the ground, raised beds or containers.

They like at least ½ day sunshine and good watering.  Make sure you have good drainage as standing water will cause root rot.

Note – Seed potatoes are specifically for planting.  Potatoes from the grocery store are treated with a bud inhibitor which will greatly decrease the amount harvested.

You can plant the potatoes whole or cut into thirds with at least 2 “eyes” per piece.  If cutting, allow the cut to “harden off” for a day or two. Dust pieces with sulfur to help prevent early and late blight.

Soil should be well drained and slightly acidic, (pH 5.2 or higher). Plant in rows 10-12 inches wide in a trough 4-6 inches deep.  Add just enough soil to cover the pieces.  As the plants grow, add more soil burying the new growth.  Continue this procedure until the plant starts to flower.

Potatoes are prone to excessive top growth and scab when given too much nitrogen. Use a fertilizer like 5-10-10 side dressed every 3 weeks.  A good “homemade” organic fertilizer is mixing 1 part nitrogen (fish or blood meal), 3 parts phosphorous (bone meal or fish bone meal), and 2 parts potash (kelp meal).

New potatoes can be harvested at 10 weeks.  Decrease watering in late summer as the plant starts to yellow and fall over. When this happens cut the foliage away and start harvesting.  Dig up gently to avoid punctures. If container grown simply turn the container over and sort through the soil.

Brush off any dirt clinging to the potato and store in a cool dark place.  Do not wash until ready for cooking.  Washing too early shortens their shelf life.

At The Grange we carry a full line of fertilizers and “simples” (organic ingredients for the do it yourselfer) and natural fungicides.  Starting the 2nd week of February we will offer 12 different varieties of Seed Potatoes.

Fruit Trees

The days of enjoying fresh sun ripened fruit off your own trees are back!

When I was growing up I could easily climb a 25 to 30 foot tree for fruit, but somewhere in the interim, gravity has arbitrarily gotten stronger and I’m good if I can reach the can of sliced peaches on the top shelf.

In recent years there have been great advances in producing fruit trees in dwarf and semi dwarf sizes.  Most dwarf trees will top out at 8+ feet and semi dwarf at 10-12 feet.

The obvious benefit is a tree easier to prune and care for with little reduction in fruit quantity and quality.  Numerous home gardeners have even discovered how easy it is to grow their trees in containers.

 Controlling the size of the trees is accomplished by root grafting, (also called “bottom budding”).  The theory behind this procedure is that shorter root growth means less water and nutrient uptake thereby controlling the height of the tree. This was started in the 1960’s with mixed results but has been greatly improved with the introduction of root stocks such as, M27, Gisela and Mazzard.

 Fruit trees like sun and well drained soil.  In regards to fruit and berries, sun = sugar. When planting a grafted tree be sure not to bury the graft as it can result in graft rot or suckers, which are branches growing from below the graft.  They are not representative of the tree variety.

 Another popular innovation for the home gardener is branch grafting. This creates a tree with 3-5 different varieties of the same fruit.  The obvious benefit is assurance of cross pollination on one tree instead of two or more.

 The Grange has become the “go to” place for fruit trees.  Around mid February we will offer over 170 trees not to mention a great line of other fruits and berries! We carry some of the most popular varieties as well as a few you may not have heard of but are sure to enjoy.  We will have dwarf and semi dwarf trees in single variety, combo and espalier

 

 

Companion Planting Cheat Sheet

Follow this cheat sheet to help your plants thrive with their right companions in your garden bed!

ASPARAGUS

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Companions:

BASIL

PARSLEY

TOMATOES

BEETS

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Companions:                                       Enemies:

BUSH BEANS      LETTUCE               POLE BEANS

ONIONS               CABBAGE

GARLIC

CABBAGE FAMILY

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Companions:                                       Enemies:

SAGE                BEETS                           TOMATOES

ROSEMARY     CELERY                          PEPPERS

POTATOES       GARLIC

ONIONS           SPINACH

CHARD            GERANIUM

LETTUCE

looseleaflettucevarietiesCompanions:                                                 Enemies:

CARROTS                CUCUMBER                     CELERY

RADISHES               BEANS                              PARSLEY

STRAWBERRIES     ONIONS

BEETS                      CABBAGE FAMILY

ONION & GARLIC

Onion-and-garlic-varietiesCompanions:                                                     Enemies:

CARROTS                   TOMATOES                      LEEKS      PEAS

RADISHES                   LETTUCE                         BEANS

STRAWBERRIES        CABBAGE                        PARSLEY 

PEAS

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Companions:                                     Enemies:

LAVENDER         BEANS                    ONIONS

CARROTS          CORN                       GARLIC

TURNIPS            RADISHES

CUCUMBER

*Grows well with most veggies & herbs.

PEPPERS

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Companions:                                            Enemies:

TOMATOES          CARROTS                     BEANS

GERANIUM          ONIONS                         KALE

BASIL                   EGGPLANTS                 CABBAGE FAMILY

POTATOES

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Companions:                                                   Enemies:

BEANS                         EGGPLANTS               PUMPKINS       MELONS

CABBAGE FAMILY      PEAS                           CUCUMBERS    TOMATOES

CORN                                                                SQUASH  

SPINACH

images Companions:                                     

STRAWBERRIES                             

PEAS

CABBAGE FAMILY

Tomatoes

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Companions:                                            Enemies:

BASIL                 CARROTS                        POTATOES

OREGANO         CELERY                           FENNEL

PARSLEY           GERANIUM                      KOHLRABI

CHIVES              ASPARAGUS                   CABBAGE FAMILY

ONIONS            PEPPERS

CUCUMBERS

THYME

images

Companions:

CABBAGE

ROSEMARY

imagesCompanions:

CARROTS

CABBAGE

SAGE

BEANS

Brooder: The Baby Chick Stage

FIRST & FOREMOST, make sure that you’re ready to fully commit to taking care of these little furry ones! It requires more than just food and water, just like with any other pet. They don’t require a lot to be happy but still require some of TLC!

Do Your Homework

  • Check your local ordinances and zoning codes for your city. Each city has their own regulation on how many backyard chicks you’re able to have.
  • Figure out why you want chicks… Is it for a bountiful amount of fresh eggs? Is it because you want to know where your food comes from? Or is it just because you’ve always wanted to raise chickens?
  • Research all of the CHICK BREEDS to figure out what fits your wants the best.

Brooder Set up

  • Get all of the chicks supplies and brooder set up before they arrive to your home.

Brooder

During the first few weeks with your chicks, place them in a secured, warm area with access to food & water 24/7.

The options of what to use for your brooder are endless! 

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*Chick Pro TIP: Cover the top of your brooder with chicken wire to protect them from predators and to prevent them from flying out. Also, place a piece of cheesecloth to over the chicken wire to block dust from getting into the box.

Bedding

Clean bedding is essential to keeping your baby chicks health in good condition. Proper sanitation can help reduce the risk of diseases. 

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Using newspapers can create a slick & wet surface that can cause damage to their legs. Using cedar shavings can create irritation to their respiratory system. Using white shavings, NATURE’S SHAVINGS, is absorbent and is easy to spread out along the bottom of your brooder!

Make sure that the brooder’s bedding is dry and changed often.

Heat Lamp

Heat plays a key part in your baby chicks survival. Using a heat lamp and a 250 watt infrared bulb is the key. You can adjust the brooder’s temperature easily by just raising and lowering the heat lamp.

Set up your heat lamp above the feeder and opposite end of the waterer. If you do place the lamp over the chick’s water, it will heat up and cause algae to grow.

*Chick Pro TIP: Keep a spare bulb handy. Your chicks brooder temperature needs to stay consistent.

Thermometer

During the first week your baby chicks are with you, their brooder temperature should be set at 95 degrees. After that week, reduce the temperature 5 degrees per week.

Get an thermometer to place inside the brooder to help you regulate and maintain the heat easier.

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*Chick Pro TIP: If you see your chicks huddled together underneath the heat lamp, turn up the heat… If you see them holding their wings out or panting and far away from the heat lamp, turn down the heat!

Waterer & Feeder

94e70de4ae9220487cd04132c4e37046 Your chicks will need easy access to their food and water at all times. Place the food dish at one end of the box and the opposite end of the box for the water dish. This prevents the chicks from kicking their food into their water.

Change your baby chicks water at least once a day. Make sure that the waterer base is not too deep or wide so that your chicks won’t fall in!

Feed your chicks with a chick starter mixed with some chick scratch during their first 8 weeks. Using chick scratch helps your chicks process their food and prevent PASTY BUTTS!

Enjoy watching your flock grow!

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No Gardening Space? No Problem!

Many of us aren’t fortunate enough to have spacious yards to enables us to plant various fruits and veggies.  With limited gardening space, it requires us to be more picky & selective on what to plant each season. Especially when we have high hopes of having a bountiful harvest from what we’ve planted.

Luckily, there are plenty of SPACE SAVING options available. Using one of these methods can also help you achieve that end result that every gardener desires… A SUCCESSFUL HARVEST WITH ENDLESS AMOUNTS OF VEGGIES & FRUITS!

During this time of year, it’s the right time to plant your SEED POTATOES & ONIONS SETS OR TRANSPLANTS. Click below to figure out which SPACE SAVING method will fit best with your ‘small’ situation.

You Can Grow POTATOES…

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In a Wooden Box                                   In a Garbage Can 

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        In a Sack                                              In a Tower

You Can Grow ONIONS…

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Vertically on a Windowsill               In a Burlap Sack

container Onions                   growingleek-211x300

      In a Container                              In a Mason Jar

Master Gardeners TIP: Onions are cool weather veggies that can be easily grown indoors year-round!  

Help Your Senior Horse Fight the Battle Against Aging

For humans, the aging process sometimes isn’t an enjoyable one. This can be said the same for horses as well.

Research has shown that, for both humans and horses, immune function declines within age. This is where immunosenescence comes into play.  When there is a gradual decrease with the immune function, it results in a decreased ability to resist infection and responsiveness to vaccination. For most senior horses, these are common problems that occurs while they age.

Look no further! Purina has the answer that you’ve been looking for to help win the battle against your horse’s aging process.

Read below for information on Purina’s EQUINE SENIOR FEED features and benefits.

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#1 Veterinarian Recommended  

Exclusive ActivAge Prebiotic

  • Purina’s research shows when this prebiotic is used as a proprietary feed additive, it supports the aging immune system in senior horses.
  • Contains beneficial metabolites that includes: minerals, amino acids, antioxidants and vitamins. When these metabolites are combined together, it encourages the growth of beneficial microorganisms in their gut and supports their immune function.
  • Three proven reasons senior horses benefits from this are:
  1. Strengthens immune function  
  2. Protects against inflammation
  3. Boosts response to vaccination    

Purina’s ‘Amplify High-Fat Nugget’

  • A mixture of flax seeds, vegetable oils and rice bran.
  • This mixture provides weight maintenance, coat shine and bloom in senior horses.

nugget_chart    

Easy to Chew

  • Purina’s Easy-Soak  pellet technology creates a mash instantly with warm water that enables the feed  to be easier to chew & swallow for horses with dental problems.

Built-in Forage

  • Quality hay is built into this feed to help senior horses receive fiber easily for when they’re having difficulties eating forage.

Highly Digestible Ingredients

  • A blend of beet pulp and quality hay that maintains the horse’s body condition and digestive condition.

100% Vitamins and Minerals

  • Created to meet the unique & specific needs that support their immune function.

Added Antioxidants

  • Includes Vitamin C & E for additional support in a result of an overall healthy immune system.

Highly Palatable with Less Sugar

  • Contains a unique blend of molasses and soy oil instead of using straight cane molasses. This unique blend results in an optimal intake in senior horses.

High- Quality Proteins

Controlled  Amount of Starch and Sugar

Concentrate Feed

  • To be feed with either hay or pasture.

thClick here more information about this feed!

                                                                    

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