Straw – Planting Technique

Q: This spring I saw some local schools making gardens with wheat straw. They put the straw in large wire containers, then added their plants. I bought some straw bales and made holes and put chicken manure and planting soil in them before I planted tomatoes. The plants did well for two weeks then died. Any suggestions about planting technique?

A: The process of planting in straw bales requires that the bale be partially decomposed before you plant anything. If you put young plants into holes you make in fresh straw, I’d expect insufficient watering to be a big issue. The plant roots won’t get the water they need because water simply runs past the root ball to the bottom of the bale. The process of preparing a bale involves scattering fertilizer over it and watering several times to make a rich compost into which vegetables can be planted. I have details about the whole process at

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