Sept. 28 column


Diane and Bruce Moriarty in their productive straw bale garden.
I think you are going to love today's column from The Spokesman-Review! Remember how I wrote a feature story in May about a Spokane Valley couple who were trying straw-bale gardening?

Well, that was Bruce and Diane Moriarty. They had 40 straw bales and grew all sorts of veggies in them. And boy were they successful! Here's a link to the column: Straw bale experiment a bountiful success.

It's a follow-up since I figured you'd be interested to hear how their garden did and what they learned along the way. It is chock-full of tips and ideas.

In the May article, I mentioned how the Spokane County Master Gardeners had set up a demonstration straw bale garden and how I was going to do my own test of the method with two straw bales.

Diane standing outside the tomato area of the garden.
Well, those 2 gardens had mixed results and the problems we each encountered centered around the bales not getting quite enough water during the heat of the summer.

The Master Gardeners ran into a few problems with the automatic drip watering system so the plants in the bales did rather poorly. In my garden, we had a little mix-up with our own drip system. Once my husband Bill realized the problem and solved it, the plants suddenly sprang into action.

Look at the beautiful 'Zebra' tomatoes they grew!
As Bill told me, "the issue with straw bales is that you have five surfaces that water can evaporate from." So you really have to do a good job of making sure the bales are getting enough water. I just wanted to point that out in case you are considering straw bale gardening.

There's a photo of our straw bale garden at the bottom of this post.

Also, one really important point that Bruce brought up for my follow-up column is that you need to get -- or at least reserve -- your straw bales this fall. Don't wait until next spring or you will likely be out of luck.

Either contact some local farmers or your local farm stores (such as Country Store or Del's Farm Supply, if you live in the Spokane area) and get things lined up now.
Susan's straw bale garden with tomatillos, cukes and peppers.