Monday, May 16, 2011


Do you know how many ways there are to do a straw bale garden? About a million. I'd like just one way please. But that's not the case, everyone does it differently and then they all create mass confusion for me. So I'm basically winging this operation and praying that it works. No guarantees. And now that my mom is copying my moves I'm even more nervous, you see she actually has a green thumb!

So today's topic is fertilizer. There are a million different types and ways to fertilize your bales. If your doing it organically you can use anything from Blood Meal to coffee grounds to manure of any sort. If it's not organic then ideally you would want to use ammonium nitrate. However, thanks to Timothy McVey, ammonium nitrate is not easily available. And if it is, you'll be questioned and ID'd about your intentions with said product. So if you can't get your hands on any then your best bet is to find a fertilizer that has a high nitrate value. Ammonium nitrate has a nitrate level of 34-0-0. (Don't be fooled by my knowledge, I have no idea what 34-0-0 really means, I am not a chemist). So you'll need to visit your local garden center to find an ideal fertilizer. (Home Depot, Menards, etc don't seem to carry the right stuff, at least not in my area). I settled on this one.

Nitrate of Soda. No idea if it will work but it had the highest nitrate level I could find, 16-0-0. Remember, I'm winging this whole operation. So days 1 through 3 consisted of water, water, water and then day 4 is the first day of fertilizing. I skipped day 4 because it was cold, windy, rainy and just plain miserable outside. Typically this is the fertilizer schedule you want to follow...
Day 4 - Add 1/2 cup of fertilizer and SOAK it in.

Day 5 - Add 1/2 cup of fertilizer and SOAK it in.

Day 6 - Add 1/2 cup of fertilizer and SOAK it in.

Day 7 - Add 1/4 cup of fertilizer and SOAK it in.

Day 8 - Add 1/4 cup of fertilizer and SOAK it in.

Day 9 - Add 1/4 cup of fertilizer and SOAK it in.

Day 10 - No more fertilizer but continue to water.

So we are on Day 7 around here. The boys have been busy helping me fertilize and are eager to plant. Out plan is to plant on Thursday before we hit the road for 10 days.

Good Luck!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Day One

Let's get something straight, I don't really have a green thumb. In fact, I've probably killed more plants then I've kept alive. And as you'll see in these picture, I'm really good at growing dandelions and other weeds. However, last summer when I watched as Mckmama blogged about her Straw Bale Gardening experience, I knew I had to try it. I've always wanted to grow pumpkins for the kids but our current garden just doesn't have the space for them with all the other things growing in there so I figured this would be the perfect way for us to do that.

I didn't do much, if any, research over the winter. I did two simple things. 1.) Find a place in our yard where they could be and 2.) Make sure I could get two bales. So, that preparation took about 30 seconds and probably took place before the ground even froze. The last few weeks and days I haven been doing lots of research on how to prepare the bales for planting. And let me tell you, it's quite the process. Whose idea was this? Oh yeah, mine, that's right. Good thing I'm pregnant and only have 3 kids to chase around, I've got plenty of time and energy to do this.....Yawn.

If you Google Straw Bale Gardening you will find yourself overloaded with ideas, tips, tricks and lots of info about manure (Blah!). A few sites that I have found really helpful are No-Dig Vegetable Garden and Grow and Make. Every one seems to have their own way of preparing, planting and fertilizing so be prepared to be somewhat confused and overwhelmed. At least I hope you are because I was, and then I decided to just stop reading and go with it.

So here we are...Day One.

First step is finding a good spot for these suckers because once they are water logged you'll need a front end loader to move them. I picked the side of our house where we will get plenty of sun and we have lots of space for pumpkins to spread out. Make sure that when you place them you place them so the straw is vertical to the ground. This usually means that they twine holding them together DOES NOT come into contact with the ground. This placement allows for the water to properly disperse itself through the bale. Make sense? Good. Moving on.

And then? Turn that hose on and soak the suckers. Yes, I'll be using all sorts of proper terms like suckers, etc throughout this process. Your welcome. Can you see the dandelions? Someone should really get on top of those.

I watered them for about 5-7 minutes each. The water was coming out the sides at the end. Since its in the upper 80s today I'll probably water them again tonight. The key in this whole watering process is to NOT LET THEM DRY OUT! Did you hear me? They must not dry out. They need the water to cook and get all juicy and ready for planting. So for the next 3 days we will water, water, water. Water!

See you on Day Four!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Bennett, 19 Months

Here are the rest of the pictures. Enjoy!

And a funny one for you. Apparently I caught him on his down stride. Who knew your face could look like that.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


A small video of Carson's soccer game. Of course I didn't get one of him scoring 2 goals. Darn! Maybe next time. Enjoy!

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Sneak Peak

Here's a sneak peak at some pictures I took of Bennett this morning. I've got a many more to edit but thought you would enjoy these in the mean time. Taking pictures of him was much easier when he didn't want to run away from me but we managed to get some good ones. Enjoy!

Monday, May 2, 2011

It's a.....

Baby! No we didn't find out. Seriously, we don't know, we aren't keeping it from you. It's just a healthy, growing, perfect baby.

Weighing just over 1 pound.

With big feet.

Measuring 11 days ahead which is really nothing new for me.

And looking a little like Bennett. The boys have declared that its a boy.
Waiting to hear from the nurse about when exactly this baby will make his or her appearance.