Straw Bale Gardening

Several Master Gardeners took on the challenge of growing Straw Bale Gardens following University recommendations.  Dan’s Feed Bin donated several straw bales for the project and Master Gardener’s Paul Riordan, Dan Pickles, Ruth and John Ludwig, Pam Hanson and Mary Stone-McConnell tackled the job.  Here are their thoughts, pictures and even a video of one of the projects.  Great work all!

Click on any photo to view the slideshow.

Straw Bale Garden Instructions:  

To plan your own straw bale garden for next year, check out these links:

From the Portage County Master Gardener Association:  Straw-Bale-Gardening

Washington State University:  WSU Straw Bale Garden

Extension Service – West Virginia University:  Straw Bale Gardening UWV

Ruth and John Ludwig

Upon arriving back at the garden site, John and I unloaded and positioned the bales in an E-shaped formation with the backbone of the shape running in a north-south orientation and the arms running in an east-west orientation. We decided this shape would maximize space utilization and sun exposure while still providing enough room to move freely between the bales for planting, watering, tending, and harvesting the vegetables.

Video of the Ludwig’s Straw Bale Garden:

My Straw Bale Gardening Experience So Far – Ruth Ludwig

Pam Hanson

I feel this method of growing things is too labor intensive.  It requires a lot of extra work.  The nice thing was it didn’t get many weeds!  I am glad I have had the opportunity to do it, but I have a large enough garden space to work with so will probably never do it again.  Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of this program.

Straw Bale Garden – Pam Hanson


Cheryl Shockley

What did you plant? All gourds, zucchini, pumpkin, squash etc., tomatoes, green peppers, jalepeno peppers.  Did you like it?  What was good ? What was bad?  Expense?   Love it, cheap, no weeding, nothing bad, will try more bales and try some seeds in April with plastic covering like a tent over it. 

Cheryl Shockley’s Straw Bale Garden Results

Mary Stone-McConnell

What pest(s) most concerned you and how did you control?  (include disease, weed, insect or other animals)  Squirrels and gophers were the main pests. My cat was the control. When the branches reached the ground, I had some damage from slug but was minor. Trimming the branches did the trick.

Straw Bale Results – Mary Stone-McConnell

 Mary’s Indigenous Gardens

Paul Riordan

Veggies include zucchini, cucumber, Jack O’Lantern/pie pumpkins, yellow squash, early girl/roma/cherry tomato, basil, oregano, corn, lettuce, beets, broccoli, cauliflower. 

Paul’s Straw Bale Gardening Results




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