Nourish – July 2020

Bale Raised Beds: My experiment and project for this year’s growing season

By, Michael O’Brien, AEMG

Part 1

Twenty, Twenty was the year to rotate my crops.  I had been growing tomatoes in the same garden for the past two years.  Tomatoes are one of those plants that are prone to root rot disease when they are grown in the same spot for three years or more.  Root rot disease is better known as Fusarium wilt which will kill the plant.

Back in May I watched a webinar on Season Extension Techniques for Growing Food by Dr. John.  In his discussion he mentioned that rotating crops is different for a home owner than a farmer.  A farmer can move that crop to the other side of his field which is far away from where the plant was previously grown.  For a homeowner that can be difficult being the available growing garden area in the yard is either limited or the yard is small.  Another method that was recommended was making a raised bed with straw or hay.  Hay will put nutrients back into the soil which straw doesn’t.  Yes there is the issue of seeds in the bales of both.

My experiment and project for this year is a raised bed created with hay bales.  It would be quicker for me than preparing the soil for my veggie plants.  My raised bed is about fifty feet long by three feet wide.  First, I lined the bottom of the raised bed with cardboard. By doing that all of the weeds will suffocate and become compost. Next, the raised bed was filled with roughly six tons of top soil and one ton of mulch.  I also had a few bales left over so I created a cold frame bed.  Thanks to my neighbor’s remodeling project, I will be using a shower door for the cover.








I started my plants indoors back in March so I was running a bit behind schedule and my plants were starting to show signs of stress before transplanting.  Currently I have planted tomatoes, squash, leeks, sweet potatoes and few more vegetables will be added as time permits.


As for my cold frame I will be planting seeds or plants around the end of July.  Those plants should be ready around October.

I will continue with this article through the growing season for you to see what worked for me and what may be a mistake too.

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