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Old January 24, 2016   #16
nctomatoman
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Hi, Denny - I will indeed be at the NWFS - speaking on both Saturday and Sunday. Our daughter lives there and we will be staying with her Mon thru Thurs, then downtown Fri thru Sunday. Be sure to say hello if you get to the show! I think that in your area specific location certainly is a big factor, as well as the particular season, methods - we have some great PNW tomato growers at Tomatoville that will be able to say much more on this I am sure, and I've included some info from a few in the book.
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Old February 20, 2016   #17
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Two questions:

1) Is this the primary thread for questions/comments about this book? I'd thought there was another one, but couldn't find it, so hoped this was the one you were using.

2) You discuss a month long bale conditioning that's beneficial before planting in bales. What I'm wondering is, would it be OK for bales to be outside for a couple months earlier than that (and do the conditioning in the last month before planting) -- or would having them outside lead to too-rapid deterioration of the bales, so they wouldn't last through the season?

I have one of my three gardening areas that has not had much attention for several years. At that time there was a year I wasn't able to do more than very minimal gardening, so just left it, and in following years, it was the last to get attention, by which time weeds were such a problem that I didn't plant it -- just cared for the perennials that are there -- kind of.

This year I'd decided that to cover the non-perennial area with black plastic so that, by the time I get to it in early summer, it wouldn't be such a weed forest. I need to get that plastic down pretty promptly if that area emerges, even briefly, from our usually winterlong snow cover. The weeds will soon be looking hopeful if our spells of intermittently warm-for-us weather continue.

But I was thinking of putting the plastic down and putting some straw bales, appropriately spaced, on top of the plastic (I have to weight the plastic down with something) and just leaving the plastic down all through the season.

Then I'd grow something in the bales, hopefully, and meantime, beneath the plastic, the weeds would become discouraged. That area is especially rocky, anyway, and would benefit from eventual addition of the straw.

Thus my question -- if I put bales out very soon -- even though they probably can't be planted until late May at best, and more likely early June -- will they deteriorate too much for all-season use or will they be likely to hang together until season's end?

I realize you are unlikely to have done this, but thought you might have seen enough in your longer season about rate of bale deterioration to have some idea whether or not I'd run into problems with this.
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Old February 20, 2016   #18
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Sure...it can be. I need to get through this Seattle trip. Will get to answering your questions as best I can early next week.
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Old February 20, 2016   #19
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Do we really need yet another straw bale book the (((master))) has already written one.

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Old February 22, 2016   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nctomatoman View Post
Sure...it can be. I need to get through this Seattle trip. Will get to answering your questions as best I can early next week.
Really just one question -- Do you have an idea how long a wet outdoor bale is likely to remain a bale as opposed to becoming a pile of straw? The rest of that post is just explaining the circumstances which might impact the answer.
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Old February 24, 2016   #21
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Hey Denny - great meeting you in Seattle! I will email you separately. It is good to be back home!

And Worth...you are wicked!

So - JLJ - I will spend a bit of time on your questions.


1) Is this the primary thread for questions/comments about this book? I'd thought there was another one, but couldn't find it, so hoped this was the one you were using.

Sure - let's turn it into one!

2) You discuss a month long bale conditioning that's beneficial before planting in bales. What I'm wondering is, would it be OK for bales to be outside for a couple months earlier than that (and do the conditioning in the last month before planting) -- or would having them outside lead to too-rapid deterioration of the bales, so they wouldn't last through the season?

I think that is fine. I tried three different conditionings - using inorganic materials, organic materials, and no treatment - just watering - for the 2 or so week treatment period - this was in the spring. Of course, the two with conditioning started breaking down and the plants did far better than the one that was just watered. Yet, a close living friend just leaves them out and waters them for weeks and plants into them when the weather warms up and claims they do fine. Of course, once he planted in he began to feed the plants.

I have one of my three gardening areas that has not had much attention for several years. At that time there was a year I wasn't able to do more than very minimal gardening, so just left it, and in following years, it was the last to get attention, by which time weeds were such a problem that I didn't plant it -- just cared for the perennials that are there -- kind of.

This year I'd decided that to cover the non-perennial area with black plastic so that, by the time I get to it in early summer, it wouldn't be such a weed forest. I need to get that plastic down pretty promptly if that area emerges, even briefly, from our usually winterlong snow cover. The weeds will soon be looking hopeful if our spells of intermittently warm-for-us weather continue.

But I was thinking of putting the plastic down and putting some straw bales, appropriately spaced, on top of the plastic (I have to weight the plastic down with something) and just leaving the plastic down all through the season.

I think that this is a fine idea - the bales prior to adding the conditioning materials hold their integrity well - it is the treatment, the frequent watering, then the plants and roots that develop, the continued feeding and watering, and the long summer (esp. here in Raleigh - long long growing season) that cause them to break down toward the end of the year.

But purchasing and placing, and holding off on treatment until you are ready, should provide bales that are still in fine shape.


Then I'd grow something in the bales, hopefully, and meantime, beneath the plastic, the weeds would become discouraged. That area is especially rocky, anyway, and would benefit from eventual addition of the straw.

Thus my question -- if I put bales out very soon -- even though they probably can't be planted until late May at best, and more likely early June -- will they deteriorate too much for all-season use or will they be likely to hang together until season's end?

Like I reasoned above, that should be fine!

I realize you are unlikely to have done this, but thought you might have seen enough in your longer season about rate of bale deterioration to have some idea whether or not I'd run into problems with this.

I am actually thinking of doing it this year with my crazy schedule - we can share results - I will be blogging all of my gardening activities all summer long.

Hope that the above helps!
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Old February 24, 2016   #22
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Thanks for reply, Craig. I never know how/whether garden will go each year, and currently the main area I want to use the bales on plastic is still under permanent snow cover, but it's diminishing, so if I can, I'll go ahead and get bales in place if it emerges, even briefly, from the snow, and then condition them later -- probably May.

If you have any inspirations about how to make them unattractive to voles, let me know. Currently my best thought is to let Malamute puppy mark them regularly -- by spring he should be old enough to think that a great assignment.
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