I received this email a couple of days ago. I took a screen snip to post it here. I think the email speaks for itself. Kinda makes even a big guy tear up a little.
One of the KEY elements to a successful Straw Bale Garden is the trellis system. Easy to build with a couple of posts and some wire, it creates a spacious expanse for vines to climb up…spread out…and bathe in the sun. Space the wires 10″ apart to make it easy for the climbers to reach the next wire up. I also use a 2×4 between the posts, so that when the wires are tightened the posts don’t simply tip inward and sag. Use the tallest posts you can find, I like the “T” posts, which resemble the capital letter “T” if you look at them from the top. The posts also have bumps on one side. I always recommend using a post-pounder to drive in the posts. For you city slickers out there, a post-pounder is like a giant pen cap that slides over top of the post, and is weighted. Pull it up and slam it down, the post is driven quickly and safely into the ground. Rent one or buy one, they sell for about $15 and will save you a serious headache, and I mean that both figuratively and literally! Lots of additional details to setting up this trellis system in the book, but this will help you accomplish the overall objective.
Potato harvest from bales is easy, with no fork or shovel, simply cut the strings and kick over the bales, and pick up the potatoes. No marks on the potatoes from the forks or shovels, so they will store well, unblemished. Wrap them in brown paper, this helps them store longer. Keep them in a dry cool place, and check your stock often, tossing out any that have gotten soft or begun to rot. You’ll have delicious potatoes until the following summer when new stock will be ready again.
In normal soil gardens it is important to hill up the soil around the stem as the potato emerges. This is important because potatoes form on on the stem not on the roots. If planted too deep in the soil, the stem has a hard time emerging, because it cannot push up more than a few inches of soil. In a straw bale, we simply plant the potato cutting deep into the bale. While a bale may be 20″ high, we will plant 16-18″ deep in a “crack” in the bale. The looseness of the bale will allow the stem to easily reach the surface, and the potatoes will form along this stretch of stem, filling the bale with potatoes. I suggest two or three potatoes in a bale, even while planting other crops on the surface of the bale. These “surface” plantings will be harvested early before the potato vine has stretched its way above and around the bale. Wait for the vine to flower and this is the earliest the potatoes will be ready, however waiting for the vine to wither later in the fall will allow the potatoes inside to mature a bit longer.
Try Straw Bale Gardening, especially if you like potatoes, you’ll never go back to growing potatoes in the soil. Growing potatoes any other way will seem silly once you’ve done it this way.