I told you back in June about an experiment I was conducting with strawberries and potatoes. The strawberry experiment was a complete fail thanks to a couple of chipmunks who got in and dug them all up. The potato experiment is another story.
Before starting my experiment I did some research and found that I shouldn’t plant my potato seedlings in straw bales. I read that there would be too much air in the bales and the potatoes would dry out. But I wondered what would happen if I used last years straw bales that were already broken down?
I proceeded to create two corner planters with extra fence posts and left-over wire fencing and then I filled it with the old straw from the 2015 straw bale garden and then proceeded to treat them and prepare them just as I did the NEW straw for straw bale garden 2016. This helped to break the straw down even more turning it into some beautiful soil.
I did top the straw soil combo off with some Miracle Grow Garden soil but the rest of that is all beautifully decomposed straw.
And then I set them up with my drip irrigation system and hoped for the best.
Summer wore on hot and dry and I’m really glad I had that drip irrigation in place.
I topped off the straw and soil two more times with 2-3 inches of Miracle Grow Garden Soil as the plants grew.
An d then there were blossoms!
And then finally the plants started to fall over and I knew it was time to inspect my work and see how things had turned out.
I was kind of afraid they might not have had enough time to do what they needed to do so initially I stuck my hand down into the soil and only pulled out enough potatoes for dinner. They were quite tasty!
I didn’t get a TON of potatoes but enough that Warren and I can enjoy them for several meals. I got to thinking that I might have gotten more potatoes if they’d had more room so you KNOW I had to go all out and create a BIGGER area to plant potatoes in 2017!
In the end, my potato experiment worked out. Growing potatoes in straw works if it’s already broken down and turning into soil. I imagine it wouldn’t work so well in new straw bales but this older straw worked out just fine.
I moved the soil that had grown the potatoes over to another bed and mixed it in. It will grow something different next year. I find it endlessly entertaining that all of that old straw from my garden is now dark loamy soil. FREE soil.