Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Growing squash in bales

Several years ago I planted vegetables in straw bales as an experiment, and had pretty decent results, and again the next year with potatoes planted in the remains of the bales. What I did NOT like was how much seed was still in the bales and sprouted. I fought them for 2-3 years.

Two years ago I cleared a large area, laid down cardboard, covered it with 6" of alfalfa from some bales I purchased locally, and covered it all with 6" of wood chips. I had 2 bales of alfalfa left over and just stuck them in the barn.

This year I took those 2 aged bales out of the barn and planted winter squash in them. I'm totally astonished at the growth. In the photos, it's hard to see there are actually 2 plants but one is an acorn squash and the other is spaghetti squash.

The acorn squash isn't doing well, but there must be a dozen or so spaghetti squash growing on the other plant!


  1. Oh ya never use hay that hasn't been aged to the point of almost uselessness to animals in the garden. If you keep it in a hayloft most of the seed heads in the bales will be dead after two years time from the heat. If you use hay from the same year go with the early or first cutting it usually has much less weed seed.

  2. I've used hay for 20 years as mulch in my garden. I seldom have problems with sprouting. It's usually due to not enough mulch put down, or high worm activity, so there's no longer enough mulch.

    I hear people often complain about hay and sprouting. But upon investigation, it's almost always due to not enough put down.

    I put down packed leaves of 4-6" thickness. If I must use loose hay I put that down at 12-14" thickness because it will pack down to 4-6". I put it down as close to a row as I can, allowing about 4-6" for the plants to grow. For widely spaced plants like broccoli, I put it right up to them, leaving a 4" diameter area around the stem.

    I never put mulch down on already sprouted things, but pull them, and their roots, out first.

    I weed my 2 gardens about once or twice a month, and it takes about 1/2 hr to do. They measure 30' x 36' and 42' x 60'.

    I've tried straw but really don't like it. It decomposes too quickly, is extremely slippery when wet, and if loose, to airy to prevent weed growth. I've never used alfalfa.

  3. Some varieties of squash only produce 2-3 fruits per vine, so that may be why the acorn seems to not be doing well. It could be a low fruiting variety. I've grown Jarrahdale & really they only do 1 fruit well per vine. Freaked me out as each new little fruit withered & died, but since then I've learned about the fruiting restriction...I imagine it's especially true of the older varieties. You'll notice in the seed catalogues that sometimes they mention that each vine produces "6-8 fruits per vine"...that's saying the others (the majority) don't.

    I've never grown acorn squash, so don't know how it is in this regard.


I'd love to hear what you think about my posts! We all learn together.