what to do with straw bales this year

Last year I built several new 4'X8' 12-inch raised beds and filled them wit h straw bales. I treated the bales with nitrogen and used them for growing my tomatoes and other vegetables. They worked out pretty well. This year the bales have collapsed and are partly decomposed and eventually they wil l be glorious soil in my beds. But this year I am concerned that the loose straw will not hold the root systems well. Anyone ever done something lik e this (combine straw bale with raised bed system)? Anyone have any ideas about what I can do with them to prepare them for this season's planting?
I've turned them over with a bag or two of compost and am considering just covering them with a few inches of soil and planting in that. Do you think this will be sufficient? Should I add more nitrogen to the straw?
I appreciate any insights! Carla Maryland
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carla temenak wrote:

i would guess that you could leave them in place and put new bales on top and do the same thing.
or you could get some composted cow manure and put that on there and it would help hold some moisture in.
any reason why you wouldn't mix it with your existing garden soil? early spring is a good time to do it.
songbird
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On Wednesday, March 9, 2016 at 7:35:08 PM UTC-5, songbird wrote:

wing my tomatoes and other vegetables. They worked out pretty well. This year the bales have collapsed and are partly decomposed and eventually they will be glorious soil in my beds. But this year I am concerned that the l oose straw will not hold the root systems well. Anyone ever done something like this (combine straw bale with raised bed system)? Anyone have any id eas about what I can do with them to prepare them for this season's plantin g?

hink this will be sufficient? Should I add more nitrogen to the straw?

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On Wednesday, March 9, 2016 at 6:50:28 PM UTC-5, carla temenak wrote:

ng my tomatoes and other vegetables. They worked out pretty well. This ye ar the bales have collapsed and are partly decomposed and eventually they w ill be glorious soil in my beds. But this year I am concerned that the loo se straw will not hold the root systems well. Anyone ever done something l ike this (combine straw bale with raised bed system)? Anyone have any idea s about what I can do with them to prepare them for this season's planting?

nk this will be sufficient? Should I add more nitrogen to the straw?

I don't have much existing garden soil. All my gardening is done in raised beds. The new ones from last year were filled entirely with the bales. I t was a last minute decision because once I got the beds built and placed ( tripling my garden space) I realized that filling them with great soil woul d be too costly. So for half the price, I did the straw bale method, figur ing that, unlike traditional freestanding straw bales, they would eventuall y compost into glorious soil to fill those beds. I still have one bed I ha ven't yet filled so maybe I'll fill that with soil and plant all my tomatoe s in it along with the other couple 4x4 beds I have established and use the straw-heavy ones for lightweight greens and root vegetables? Carla
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at some point you'll need to fill those beds with actual garden soil. decomposed straw bales can be a part of that, but you'll also want some other components of topsoil (sand, clay, loam).
i don't know why you say it would be expensive to fill them. i can find sand for $10/cubic yard delivered up to 7 yards for about $100-200 depending upon company. screened topsoil is usually more (20-40/cuyd) i would not add clay until i saw what the other components were like, but i always pay attention to it because it helps hold soil moisture and nutrients...
if you are willing to do the work yourself you can often find fill for free or nearly free if you have a way to move it. just have to look around and ask. make sure it is clean fill from areas not along a roadside or near an industrial site or in the cities. if in doubt, pass... sometimes new construction sites will have extra and you can ask for them to deliver it instead of them having to haul it away. just depends, but not impossible. :)
songbird
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