My son, Braddock, and I got our garden put in today and it was sight to behold. An old guy stopped by and asked “Ya’ll holdin’ a preachin’ tomorrah?”
Apparently, in the old days, congregations in the country would set out bales of hay for the congregation to sit upon while the preacher made his case. You couldn’t fall asleep on those “pews.”
“So sir,” we said. “We’re planting a garden.”
“Howzat gonna work?” he asked, toothpick working in his mouth . He’ll have to come back in six weeks, and he’ll see how that works. Another passerby thought it was some kind of confederate cemetery.
We were going to rent a tiller and do it the traditional way, but after the recent drenching rains, we decided the ground was just too low. Anything we planted would drown.
“B” did a small garden last year in bales of grass and he produced some of the most beautiful tomatoes, peppers, squash and eggplant you ever saw. The hay bale method was pretty much our only option – neither of us has sunny yards, and this empty piece of land sits not 200 paces from my home. The owner lives in Texas and I called him to beg for the space, tossing in the promise of a bag of tomatoes. We’re gardening rent free!
The nice thing about this method is there is no weeding or fertilizing. As the grass deteriorates, it fertilizes the growing plants. Hey, I’m an organic gardener, and lazy to boot. All you really have to do is keep everything staked up and pick your heart out in produce.
Here’s the routine. You have to water the bales for four days, then you toss nitrogen granules over it for five more. On day ten, you plant. That will just about line up with the last frost day for our area. You slit a hole in the bale and tuck in your favorite plant. That’s it. Keep it watered well and you’re on your way.
Ah, I can already taste those luscious summer tomatoes. We’re doing sixteen bales – you can only plant two things per bale, along with all the herbs you care to tuck in. Thankfully, we didn’t jump the gun – predictions are for 32 degrees Monday night.
But by next week, we’ll have planted the garden. We love the heirloom variety called Brandywine and the Co-op is carrying those this year.
I gotta have my squash and once it’s plays out in June, we’ll plant a fall crop of tomatoes in the same bales. This is a win-win situation except for our partner, Judy, who lives between me and the garden. She supplies the water source, and B tells me this kind of gardening is heavy on water. She’ll get most of the bounty – that’s only fair. But if you’re really nice to me, I bet I can sneak a few for you.