Saturday, May 9, 2009

Growing Watermelon in the hay bale

When the start of my watermelon season started we faced alot of difficulties. The most notable one being disease. Every melon that produced fine growth in the seed starters didn't do well after being transferred. Needless to say I was severely disappointed, because who doesn't want melons in their garden. So after doing some research on the hay bale gardening, I decided to give it a go and start all over and after the prepping the hay bales with water for several days and throwing some ammonium nitrate on them to get the juices flowing. I finally got my transplants up and running again and decided to plant my melons again.

Currently, I am shocked with the amazing progress the melons are doing. They are taking to the hay bale like fish to water. If you think about hay bale gardening it makes perfect sense. From a layman like myself it's 2nd grader proof; prep the hay bale with water everyday for about a week, throw a cup or two of ammonium nitrate after the 4th day of watering, water the remaining days with ammonium nitrate and on the 7th day continue to water,(What you thought I was going to say rest, Not!) cut back on the ammonium nitrate and continue to water for an additional 3 days, dig a hole in the bale, place compost in the hole, place your transplant in the hole and cover the top of the bale with organic material namely compost. Water.

The Hay bale has it's own ecosystem working in there. The damn thing literally comes alive, microbes start to feed on the hay bale and literally gets hot inside, thats why you take the additional days of watering without adding the ammonium nitrate so it can cool down before you add your transplants. But the hay bale is eating itself and your plants are using the digested materials for nourishment. Alot of hay bale gardeners like to use the same hay bale for at least two years. I don't think im going that route. I will turn them into the garden, but not after letting my chickens have at them first


Sue said...

I'm really glad this is working out for you. I'm definately going to try this next spring. We have such late planting times...perhaps some of that warmth would help get a good start. Good deal!

ATW said...

Sue- it's turning out to be a pretty good. If there is one concern it's introduction of pests species that come with the hay bales. It might not be an issue, but next year Im going to put the hay bales further away from the main garden. I have noticed alot of mites, but at the same time I have noticed alot of benefical predators feeding on them. It's hit or miss, and luckily for now My bales seem to be doing great. Pls post when you get things going next year

Marianne said...

Did you use actual hay bales or were they straw? From your pic, it looks like straw - common misconception. :o) Glad you're having good luck with them! I may have to give this a try next year!