One KEY to a successful Straw Bale Garden set up is the wire trellis above the bales.

This is one of the illustrations, by Pam Powell from my book "Straw Bale Gardens"

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.

Image of the real thing at about July 4th, mid season.

 

 

This is a post-pounder.

This is a post-pounder.

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12 Comments

Sue 17-03-2013, 14:50

Hi
I have just ordered your new book! can you tell me what size bales to use, I can only find the small ones used for decorating with, seems a bit expensive?
Thank you

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Joel Karsten 17-03-2013, 17:53

Normal size will be approximately 40-46″ long, 14-18″ thick, and 18-22″ wide. You are correct that the little decorative size would be way too expensive. Check on craigslist.com near you, or use our FREE website called http://www.strawbalemarket.com to look for a supplier near you. Try HomeDepot or Lowes as well, or the local Garden center or nursery. If you are near a rural area, look for a Farm Supply store, or ask your friends if they know a farmer, call him and ask. They may not have straw, but any farmer knows 50 other farmers so they could point you toward a supplier.

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Don 18-03-2013, 15:56

I have 6 or 8 hay bales thet have been sitting for a couple of years. Will these still work fine?

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Joel Karsten 18-03-2013, 16:14

Yes, absolutely Don, I always say that if you can still move em, you can still use em. Make sure to check the strings, you might need to restring them before you pick them up. Another option is to roll them onto the edge of a tarp and pull them to the spot you need to put them. If the strings break the bales will lose compression, and that tightness is a key to fast decomposition.

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Lisa 02-04-2013, 16:26

Hi,

I really like your setup! Can you explain how you mounted the 2×4 onto the t-posts? Thanks!

Lisa

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isaiah43123 22-04-2013, 02:11

I tried this type of gardening last year with some disappointing results. The dry growing season was a major factor along with having some difficulty finding helpful information. This site is a great resource! Thanks for sharing! Will stop by the store next to check out your book.

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Brandon 29-04-2013, 18:30

My post-pounder broke several years back (don’t ask), so bought a new one for $20.
Check with your friends and neighbors to see if you can borrow one. They are not something you use
everyday or every year, so most people would be happy to see it get used. You can give them a piece
of cake to sweeten the deal.
Brandon

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Heidi 14-05-2013, 04:16

Same question as Lisa, and is it necessary (or useful) if the row of bales is shorter – say three bales for a total of 9 feet. Or if the posts are sunk deeper. There’s no way a post pounder is going to make it through the rocks here in Santa Fe, so we could always dig a little deeper, since we’ll be digging anyway. We had a simpler setup (bales and tomato cages) last year that worked great and stayed really wet here in the high desert. Thanks!

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Jane 18-05-2013, 21:27

We’ve just started to set up our first straw bale garden. We are using organic fertilizer – Milorganite. Your book seems to recommend using an additional source of phosphorous and potassium, which we have, but I don’t see that you give a ratio to use. Did I miss it? If we use 3 cups fertilizer per bale, what’s the ratio of Milorganite to bone/kelp meal?
Thank you!

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Making Gardening Easier – Straw Bale Gardening | The Approaching Day PrepperThe Approaching Day Prepper 21-03-2014, 16:26

[…] stresses on his website that another key to making the straw bale method work is the use of a good trellis system. He recommends installing steel posts at either end of your row of bales and stretching wire […]

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kathryn Case 18-04-2014, 00:24

Hi-like Lisa-(above) I too would like to know how the 2 x4 is mounted-I could find no mention of this in either the book or on the website. Thanks in advance-looking forward to a great crop !

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Ann B. 18-02-2015, 22:15

As someone who grew up in New England and now lives in the midwest I was astonished to see a post pounder at work — I don’t think you’d get two inches before hitting a rock in the soil I grew up with! If you haven’t used one, they’re heavy and work primarily with gravity. Hoist the pounder up and drop it onto theT-post, rather than trying to slam it down. Also, I’d never do this without ear protection.

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