Hydroponics brings gardening to the classroom – Sioux Falls Argus Leader

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A $5,000 grant allowed an Oscar Howe teacher to build a hydroponics system.

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Linda Pinz-Valdez wants all of her fifth-grade students to end the coming year with a salad.

They just need to grow the vegetables first.

Pinz-Valdez, a teacher at Oscar Howe Elementary in Sioux Falls, will have a hydroponics system installed in her classroom, thanks to a $5,000 Lowe’s Toolbox for Education grant. The 8-foot structure allows plants to grow without soil.

“The purpose for this is so students can understand that plants get so much more of what they need from the air and the sun than from the dirt,” Pinz-Valdez said.

Her inspiration for the project came from a student, who in a final report this spring explained that “some” plants can grow without soil. The report followed an experiment in which students grew a lima bean plant in a cup of water.

Pinz-Valdez didn’t want her students to think that just the “weird” plant can grow without nutrients. She wanted the experiment to resonate closer to home.

“I wanted that demonstration that many different plants can grow that way (without soil),” Pinz-Valdez said, adding that she wants students to see plants they recognize and eat grow through hydroponics.

Hydroponics Unlimited – A Pioneer In Indoor Gardening Since 2005 – KHTS Radio

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Americas Best Garden CenterThough hydroponics is a relatively new growing method, its history is rooted in water-based horticulture.

For example, the mythical Hanging Gardens of Babylon supposedly irrigated its trees and shrubs with water channels.

And in 1100 AD, Mesoamericans created artificial islands called “chinampas” near modern-day Mexico City that are still in use today.

Modern hydroponics was developed in the late 1920s and tested as a source of fresh food for the U.S. Air Force during World War II.  A few decades of technology improvement later, a fasmily can now grow their own hydroponic vegetables and herbs at home.

Paul, the owner and founder of Hydroponics Unlimited, started gardening outdoors in high school.  His journey in indoor gardening began several years later in 1988.

“The first hydroponics store to open in the entire country wasn’t far from my home,” Paul said. “It was there I received my first lessons in hydroponics and bought everything I needed to start my own hydroponics system.”

Paul’s interest in hydroponics persisted for the next 18 years. With his friends’ encouragement, he opened Palmdale Hydroponics in 2006.

Paul was the sole employee of Palmdale Hydroponics until 2007, when his wife, Victoria, joined the company. In 2009, Paul and Victoria launched HydroponicsUnlimited.com. The online store allows them to reach out to customers all over the United States.

In 2010, the store moved to a larger location and changed its name to America’s Best Hydroponics and Garden Center.

Since then, America’s Best Hydroponics has provided thousands of products and the latest education to the local hydroponics community. Paul and his knowledgeable crew are ready to help beginner and veteran growers yield a successful crop.

America’s Best Hydroponics and Garden Center is located at 641 West Palmdale Blvd., Unit D in Palmdale.

Visit America’s Best Hydroponics and Garden Center’s online store at http://hydroponicsunlimited.com. Learn more about the company at http://palmdalehydroponics.com and http://americasbesthydroponics.com.  Or call them at (661) 266-3906.

Hydroponics Unlimited has been serving the Antelope Valley, Santa Clarita and Kern County since 2006 as one of the leading hydroponics and gardening stores in Southern California. One of the Hydroponics Unlimited family of companies serving residents of Santa Clarita, Antelope Valley, Lancaster, Palmdale and Kern County since 2006, America’s Best Hydroponics and Garden Center has the latest tools, products, literature and everything else needed to build and take care of an indoor or outdoor garden. Their owners are hands on experts, sharing their years of knowledge and expertise. Visit them in their Palmdale location at 641West Palmdale Blvd., Unit D, Palmdale, CA. 93551, or call Hydroponics Unlimited at (661) 266-3906. You may also visit their on-line store at http://www.hydroponicsunlimited.com

Do you have a news tip? Call us at (661) 298-1220, or drop us a line at community@hometownstation.com.

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Hydroponics Unlimited – A Pioneer In Indoor Gardening Since 2005 – KHTS Radio

Don’t miss a thing. Get breaking KHTS Santa Clarita News Alerts delivered right to your inbox.

Americas Best Garden CenterThough hydroponics is a relatively new growing method, its history is rooted in water-based horticulture.

For example, the mythical Hanging Gardens of Babylon supposedly irrigated its trees and shrubs with water channels.

And in 1100 AD, Mesoamericans created artificial islands called “chinampas” near modern-day Mexico City that are still in use today.

Modern hydroponics was developed in the late 1920s and tested as a source of fresh food for the U.S. Air Force during World War II.  A few decades of technology improvement later, a fasmily can now grow their own hydroponic vegetables and herbs at home.

Paul, the owner and founder of Hydroponics Unlimited, started gardening outdoors in high school.  His journey in indoor gardening began several years later in 1988.

“The first hydroponics store to open in the entire country wasn’t far from my home,” Paul said. “It was there I received my first lessons in hydroponics and bought everything I needed to start my own hydroponics system.”

Paul’s interest in hydroponics persisted for the next 18 years. With his friends’ encouragement, he opened Palmdale Hydroponics in 2006.

Paul was the sole employee of Palmdale Hydroponics until 2007, when his wife, Victoria, joined the company. In 2009, Paul and Victoria launched HydroponicsUnlimited.com. The online store allows them to reach out to customers all over the United States.

In 2010, the store moved to a larger location and changed its name to America’s Best Hydroponics and Garden Center.

Since then, America’s Best Hydroponics has provided thousands of products and the latest education to the local hydroponics community. Paul and his knowledgeable crew are ready to help beginner and veteran growers yield a successful crop.

America’s Best Hydroponics and Garden Center is located at 641 West Palmdale Blvd., Unit D in Palmdale.

Visit America’s Best Hydroponics and Garden Center’s online store at http://hydroponicsunlimited.com. Learn more about the company at http://palmdalehydroponics.com and http://americasbesthydroponics.com.  Or call them at (661) 266-3906.

Hydroponics Unlimited has been serving the Antelope Valley, Santa Clarita and Kern County since 2006 as one of the leading hydroponics and gardening stores in Southern California. One of the Hydroponics Unlimited family of companies serving residents of Santa Clarita, Antelope Valley, Lancaster, Palmdale and Kern County since 2006, America’s Best Hydroponics and Garden Center has the latest tools, products, literature and everything else needed to build and take care of an indoor or outdoor garden. Their owners are hands on experts, sharing their years of knowledge and expertise. Visit them in their Palmdale location at 641West Palmdale Blvd., Unit D, Palmdale, CA. 93551, or call Hydroponics Unlimited at (661) 266-3906. You may also visit their on-line store at http://www.hydroponicsunlimited.com

Do you have a news tip? Call us at (661) 298-1220, or drop us a line at community@hometownstation.com.

KHTS AM 1220 - Santa Clarita Radio

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What is organic gardening?

Making a commitment to healthy eating is a great start towards a healthy and long life. Beyond eating more fruits, vegetables, there is the question of food safety, nutrition, and sustainability. How foods are grown can impact both your health and the environment. This brings up a few questions:

What is the difference between organic foods and non organic foods?

Foods certified as organic in Canada must meet certain requirements found in the Canadian Organic Standards Document. These standards are geared around sustainable crop production with minimal impact on the environment.  To summarize these requirements food must be produced in a way which protects the environment, minimizes soil degradation and erosion, decreases pollution, optimize biological productivity and promotes a sound state of health. This means crops must not be genetically modified organisms, or treated with pesticides which way harm the environment or consumer. They must also be grown in a way which recycles materials and resources to the greatest extent possible.

Is “organic” more healthful, or worth the added expense?

While is great to purchase foods which are grown by methods which protect the environment and conserve resources,  it is important to note that certified organic foods are not necessarily more healthful than their non-certified counterparts. The Canadian Organic Standards document specifically states “Neither this standard nor organic products in accordance with this standard represent specific claims about the health, safety and nutrition of such organic products.”  This means that the quality of food grown organically does not necessarily surpass the quality of non-organically certified foods.

Can non-certified organic foods be just as healthful as certified organic products?

Yes! Assuming the food was not treated with pesticides or grown from GMO genetics, it should be just as healthful as food produced according to the organic standards listed above. It is worth noting that organic fertilizers such as manure and guanos are not available to plants as a food source until they are broken down via the soil food web. Once this process has been completed, the organic inputs are chemically identical to the synthetically derived nutrients often used in non organic gardening. In soil based gardens synthetically derived nutrients can affect long-term soil fertility by impacting conditions for biological activity within the soil. However, in a hydroponic application these nutrients are recycled, therefore never making their way into the ground or affecting the quality of ground water.

Can you grow organic food hydroponically?

Yes! Hydroponic gardens can produce non GMO food by using organically derived nutrients with the absence of pesticides while recycling and conserving water and thus having a minimal impact on the environment. Hydroponically produced food can be grown with 1/5 the water and can also many times more productive per square foot of garden space without the risk of leaching nutrients into ground water sources.

This means the home gardener should focus not on labels but on growing quality proven genetics, through sustainable gardening methods while avoiding the use of pesticides.  When growing outdoors in the ground, organically derived nutrients can be used to minimize soil degradation. When hydroponically the home gardener has the flexibility to use either organically or synthetically derived nutrients to produce high quality food in their hydroponic gardens.

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5 Indoor gardening tips you can try out for the winter – Ecofriend

Winters are here and there’ll be no real way to get outside into the garden to grow fresh greens. If you’re seeking an alternative, consider growing greens (plants and vegetables) indoors. In the winters, plants will not just clean the air inside the house, but will also provide you and your family some healthy, organic foods grown yourself.

Indoor gardening can also be useful for city dwellers who do not have enough gardening space, or in many cases, don’t even have balconies. For growing indoors and reaping benefits out of it, you don’t necessarily have to be a farmer; indoor gardening does not require additional skills and takes up as much space (at home) as you’re willing to give it. Here are tips by Dr Prem Jagyasi and his team members to go about gardening indoors.

Using recycled wine bottles vertically

Using recycled wine bottles vertically

Empty wine bottles don’t find a lot of reuse purpose at home. But products likeBioCity’s indoor vertical veggie garden can help. Developed by designers at BioCity, Montreal, the beautiful installation uses reclaimed wine bottles which can be filled with soil to grow anything from cherry tomatoes to strawberries. Ideal for growing all types of veggies indoors, the contraptions is even more exciting since it’s cost effective and does not require a lot of space.

Pod garden system

Pod garden system

Designed by a group of students, who call themselves Greenfingers, the Pod garden system is a compact gardening system for the indoors. The system developed at the University of Auckland uses Fogponics for growing greens indoors. Fogponics is a subset of hydroponics, which employs nutrition rich solution to transfer nutrition to suspended plant roots through vaporization. Interestingly, one can join a couple of pod’s together (depending on the space available) to grow additional plants.

Mason jar garden

Mason jar garden

Developed by Summer Rayne Oakes, the creative DIY gardening project is a wonderful herb garden that can be placed anywhere in the house. The amazingly nifty creation has areclaimed wood strips mounted onto the wall. The strips have inexpensive plumbing parts attached to it, which can be used to fasten jars used for gardening. The indoor vertical garden is completely eco-friendly and easy to make, in case you want to try your hands at building one.

Vertical Fogponic garden

Vertical Fogponic garden

Growing food indoor is generally dependent on the kind of space you have available. When space is a crunch, a vertical gardening system indoor can be a viable alternative. Similar to the Pod garden system, this vertical garden (Fogponic Unit) also uses Fogponics for growing veggies and plants indoors. The vertical planting system allows nutrition to reach the suspending plant roots through vapors. All kinds of veggies and plants can be grown in this Fogponic Unit.

Creative folding window gardening system

Creative folding window gardening system

Living in an apartment without a garden or balcony can have their own advantage, but they leave you with no place to grow plants and vegetables in case you’re interested. If you too live in a small apartment deprived of an outdoor space, try this DIY project to grow a garden indoors.

The folding window garden is brainchild of French designers Barreau&Charbonnet. The pivoting window garden dubbed VoletVégétal lets you maximize the space available. It allows you to place your garden on the window, which can either be laid out flat in open view or kept upright in closed position. In case you’re interested, you can create your own pivoting window frame which can hold planters.

There are endless ways you can transform everyday household items into clever gardening systems for indoor gardening. It’s only about willingness to have a garden that you can use to grow your own organic veggies or beautiful flowers.

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Mar 22, Starting Seedlings for Organic Gardening

gardening calendar If you wish to do some organic gardening this year, my first suggestion would be to get a calendar. So many activities need to take place within certain dates, all in relation to the date of the last frost in your area. A calendar helps you to have an organized plan of action, will help you recall when certain things happened, and will keep you from missing important steps.

The first step in any organic garden is to start seeds. It is a good idea to start early- certain plants (like tomatoes and peppers) do best when grown indoors for 6 to 8 weeks before being moved outdoors. A more complete list of plants and seed starting times can be found on another page.

Determine the last frost date for your area. This is the date you will be transplanting most of your seedlings outdoors. Now count back 6 to 8 weeks on your calendar and mark a date- this is when you should start tomatoes and peppers. If it is too late in the season to start your seeds this early, do not panic! Even plants started outdoors will grow, they will simply be smaller and produce less.

equipment for starting seeds

To start seeds indoors you will need seed starting trays, seed starting soil mix, a fluorescent light or two, a small oscillating fan, and a seed starting/transplanting fertilizer. Seed starting trays often come with a humidity dome to help keep the soil moist while the seeds germinate. They often also include little white plastic tags used to label your seedlings.

Using a commercially available seed starting mix will prevent most problems with weeds and seedling disease. Pre-moisten the soil and fill the seed trays to the top. If the soil drips when squeezed, you have it a little too wet. Add your seeds as directed on the seed package. Correctly label each seed section, add the humidity dome, and record on your calendar what seeds you have started today.

Most seeds will germinate at room temperature, and most seeds will sprout in 7 to 14 days. After the first sprouts appear, position the fluorescent light a couple of inches above the humidity dome. The fluorescent light should be kept on 18 to 24 hours a day. After all of the seeds have sprouted, you can remove the humidity dome. Always keep the seedlings within 12 inches from the light.

an oscillating fan for seedlings

Plants breath through tiny holes in their leaves and depend on air movement to exchange gasses. An oscillating fan placed a couple feet back will accomplish this, and will also help thicken the stems to support more weight.

When the seedlings are 14 days old or so, they are ready for some plant food. I have lots of information on fertilizer on my organic gardening home page if you would like a better understanding, but here are the basics…

All fertilizers are made of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium (also written N-P-K). All fertilizers display 3 numbers which represent the ratio of these three nutrients and the strength of the fertilizer. You don’t want to burn your new seedlings, so all three numbers should be small (less than 20).

Your new seedlings will be using lots of Phosphorus to grow new roots, so the middle number (P) should be the highest of the three numbers. You should fertilize your seedlings every two weeks until you plant them outdoors. Writing the date you first feed them on your calendar will help you keep a good schedule.

When you begin fertilizing your seedlings, it is also a good time to thin them out to one plant per container.

After 4 to 6 weeks your seedlings should be several inches tall and may be ready for a bigger container- however, transplanting is not always necessary. If your seedlings show no signs of stress (dead spots or discoloration) you may decide to plant them from the seed trays directly into your organic garden.

To keep costs down, I use cheap 4 oz plastic disposable cups. With scissors, cut small slivers from the bottom of the cup for drainage (in case of over-watering).

Fill the cups with about one inch of pre-moistened soil. Carefully pop the seedlings out of the seed tray and place them in the cups. Add pre-moistened soil around the sides of the seedlings and gently firm the soil.

With a permanent marker correctly label each cup for future reference. This will be the only time you need to transplant your seedlings before being placed in your organic garden.

seedling cold frame-

Seedlings indoors are kept rather comfortable. Outdoors the wind is stronger, the nights are colder, and the sun is much brighter. These are enough to kill young plants moved directly into the garden. You can greatly increase your success rate by providing your transplants with some “in between” conditions for a week before planting them in your garden.

One common way of doing this is to place the plants in a cold frame. Another idea is to move the plants outdoors for a couple of hours each day, giving them more and more exposure each day. Finally, you could place them directly into your organic garden, mulch well, and use some kind of crop cover.

While you are still caring for your seedlings indoors, it is a good time to begin preparing your organic garden bed. In this way, as you arrive at the transplant dates written on your calendar, the seedlings can be moved into the garden outdoors with little effort.

Leave the Organic Gardening Seedling page and
Go to the Garden Bed Preparation page

Check out the Seed Starting Date Cheat Sheet

Dirt Cheap organic and hydroponic gardening suppliesFind out the cheapest and easiest ways to garden productively in this article.

Hi everyone, Jason from Jason’s Indoor Guide here. When I got started with hydroponic gardening more than 20 years ago, my first garden used rockwool cubes and B.C. Nutrients….and I remember thinking to myself yeah, sure, there may be a lot of advantages to gardening with hydroponics, for example there are very few pest problems, therefore very little pest control, no weeding, no plowing or tilling the soil, no soil testing or having to add things into the garden soil, no watering the garden….but for someone who just wants to grow their own vegetables and have more control over their food supply and the quality of the food that they eat, the cost of constantly having to buy grow media and hydroponic nutrients makes this an expensive hobby for most people.

I suppose when you take into consideration how much money you save NOT having to buy food at the grocery store, it is surely cheaper to grow your own food hydroponically even with the cost of high quality nutrients. Nevertheless, I didn’t have a whole lot of money to work with and I needed to make my efforts as affordable and effective as possible….and in the last 20 years I HAVE learned a thing or two!

As you browse through Jason’s Indoor Guide, you will notice all of the systems that I use personally are homemade systems. As I got 3 or 4 years of experience under my belt, I quickly adopted a preference to standing water systems and systems that use expanded clay pellets or lava rock, because the media is re-usable and it eliminates a huge operating expense. So once a hydroponic system is built, garden maintenance is minimal- check and adjust the nutrient solution daily, and to change it completely every 2 weeks….and the biggest operating cost is the hydroponic nutrients. (and the electric bill, lol).

And, regarding the cost of the nutrients….I experimented for about 3 years with making different compost teas and nutrient teas, but there is still a lot of expense $$$ associated with making high quality nutrient teas….like kelp meal, liquid seaweed, rock dust, bat guano, un-sulfured molasses, worm castings. You can eliminate a lot of this expense by becoming an expert at making high-quality colloidal humus compost, and use your properly made compost as the basis of your hydroponic nutrient solution.

Make a year's worth of compost in one week!What is colloidal humus? Make the world's best compost

Unfortunately, I have been gardening for over 20 years and I have only just recently mastered this difficult skill….and even then, only because I happened to find a very easy to follow, high quality technique and decided to follow the instructions to the letter. I produced more high quality compost in just one week than I was able to use in a whole year! I highly recommend it. It is one of the top 3 things you can do to increase the productivity of your food production efforts, while at the same time decreasing the amount of effort required to grow all of your own food, and decreasing the total cost of operating your food production system.

And when I say decrease operating costs, I mean decrease them to almost ZERO, especially if you are producing your own nutrients.

One final solution to eliminate the cost of your hydroponic nutrients: Imagine a hydroponic system that does not require you to buy any nutrients, does not require you to make your own compost, and does not require you to brew your own nutrient tea. Seriously! No cost and no effort as far as providing nutrients to your plants is concerned. Plus, at the end of the gardening cycle, you harvest all of your garden vegetables, PLUS YOU HARVEST FISH from the system!

Click Here to learn more!

This solution is aquaponics. If you are serious about producing all of your own food and being self-sufficient, this is the ultimate solution for reducing expenses (as much as possible), reducing the total amount of work required, and maximizing the productivity of your gardening efforts. I have been gardening for over 20 years, and it is the perfect food production solution in my opinion.

Produce garnden vegetables AND fish together. Eliminate fertilizer costs!

Besides mastering how to make high quality compost, learning aquaponics is one of the top 3 things you can do to increase your garden productivity, reduce your total costs, and reduce your total work. The product that I learned from is called Aquaponics4you. With all of my hydroponic gardening experience, the first time I came across the Aquaponics4you product I knew immediately that it was something very special! Place an aquaponics system outdoors and use the sun instead of grow lights, and you have reduced every garden expense to nearly ZERO!

This is where my advice ends for people growing in water. But some of you out there are in love with soil gardening and organic gardening, and rightly so! It’s a pro-human activity. It is pro-conservation. It is pro-life. It nurtures and promotes life at all levels, from the micro-organisms to beneficial insects, to healthy humans. It’s natural. it’s spiritual. Gardening is written deeply into our DNA, like how you feel watching a bonfire or sitting by the ocean or next to a river.

My friend John at Food4Wealth has more than 20 years experience organic gardening, so he reminds me a lot of myself. He knows organic gardening like I know hydroponic gardening, and over the years he has learned just about every trick there is to organic gardening. He knows what makes the plants grow, and he knows how to do it with as little effort as humanly possible. His garden never needs digging, naturally repels pests, has no weeds, always produces more than his family is able to eat, produces vegetables everyday all year round, and….only requires 8 HOURS of light, easy effort PER YEAR!

Low effort organic gardening!

Years and years of experience and results can’t be argued with….the Food4Wealth gardening strategy is one of the top 3 things you can do to increase your productivity, reduce your total costs, and reduce your total work….specifically for organic gardeners who love soil gardening. THIS is the most efficient and productive way to do organic gardening, period! And combined with the ability to make a years’ worth of colloidal humus compost in just one week (see World’s Best Compost), this overall organic soil gardening strategy is just unstoppable- foolproof, low cost, and low effort!

Learn about high yield organic gardening
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DIY Straw Bale Gardening

Ive pretty much decided to use my experience with my spiritual healer today as a means of explaining the benefits and challenges of my DIY straw bale gardening project.

Ok, now that everyone has left, we can get on with this honest conversation. Long story short, she mentioned 2 things that can define an individual; compassion and anger. These feelings explain my experience with strawbale gardening.

Let me be clear here. I am a neophite when it comes to this so please; take what I am saying from a beginner standpoint in strawbale cultivation. I am however not a neophyte in regards to traditional and hydroponic cultivation. I feel as if the majority of gardeners have yet to implement strawbale gardens but have heard the rumble and understand the fact that if this method provided everything that it is stated to; we may have a gardening revolution on our hands.

As I mentioned earlier about the healer. I will break this down into 2 sections:

Compassion for straw bale gardeningAnger at straw bale gardening

The first section is compassion. What I mean by this is,”I see strawbale gardening as a means of producing vegitables in a permaculture environment, while at the same time, providing nutrient rich humus for teas and soil amending next year”

This statement is the reason for choosing this method of growing.

As opposed to soil gardens, the composting process continues throughout the winter, beaking down the bales into a rich mix of microbes, nutrients, mycelium and minerals that were once trapped in the strawbale. Soild gardens do well with a layer of dead leaves left to decompose during the off season.

Creating soil, rather than buying and hauling it made all the sense in the world to me as a new homesteader with a limited budget. Each bale cost about $7. The biodiverse soil created by decomposition of the bales would cost about twice that much (at LEAST) if purchased. Buying compost tea and other nutrients would add to the cost tremendously.

Nutrients came into the picture for me as well when making this decision. True permaculture requires no additional salt based NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium) addition. Therefor, the fact that the decomposing bales will actually feed the plants just made me wanna go to the CoOp right away and get these bales going. (Which I did)

People often touted the benefits of the bales composition as a means of insect control; stating that the straw would make it difficult for bugs to climb the sides of the bales in search of a free meal. Wow, no bugs either! This is too good to be true! Well, it turns out that the internet is a wonderful place to get STARTED, but as a wise man once said “Experience makes the master”. I’m sure you can probably find a video in which the protagonist is harvesting bars of gold from his strawbale garden, as pixies gently fan him with peacock feathers and serve him organic pomegranate juice. Ok, now that I’m all fired up…

Anger really doesn’t express my true feeling here, but I really wanted to quote my Shamen. Skeptisism would be my ideal term, as I am just now starting the swing of the season with my bales.

I conditioned the bales starting in February using only organic fertilizer and urine. Yup, urine. This is a great time to get into conditioning the bales. There is SO much information on this topic on You Tube is wild. I suggest you watch as many as possible. If you make an amalgam of all of them, and add a few things, you will have success conditioning.

Conditioning of the bales is the process of starting the decomposition process that will eventually feed your plants. Water and nitrogen are added to the bales and soaked every day for 2 weeks. Some use urine in the first few days to kick it all off. There are lots of “recipes” for this, I suggest a google search for the exact increments and measurements .

Day 1: Soak the bales completely through and pee on each one. If you have a lot of bales, you need to have a party. Not to be sexist or anything, but invite mostly guys. I had a hard time getting even the most passionate permaculture females to pee on the bales. ( I am by no means saying that other women wont, this is simply my experience with my friends) Make sure to have a lager beer around, they create the most pee. Serve pretzels to keep everyone thirsty and run the hose after a few beers to get them “motivated”. Assign each person their own bale for consistency in application rates. Everyone seems to pee on the closest bale.

Day 2: Spread 2 cups of Blood Meal on each bale, water in. Cover with tarps to trap moisture.

Day 3:  Spread 2 cups of Blone Meal on each bale, water in. Cover with tarps to trap moisture.

Day 4: Spread 2 cups of Blood Meal on each bale, water in. Cover with tarps to trap moisture.

Day 5: Spread 2 cups of Blood Meal on each bale, water in. Cover with tarps to trap moisture.

Day 6: I started to just use water and cover for a few more days and checked temps.

Day 7: Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the bales. It can go as high as 120 degrees and if you’re not careful, can actually catch on fire! Yup, anyone out there on the interwebs talking about this fact? The process of decomposition produces a lot of heat, you may even see the bales steaming at night. Make SURE that they stay wet enough to extinguish tinder before they spread. We’ve all heard of hay barn fires from stacking the bales too closely without airflow. They begin to break down and combust. A great way to avoid this is to cover them and use a soaker hose.

Once the bales have calmed down, and the temps drop to 20 degrees above ambient, you’re all set for the next step in this process.

I amended my bales with Cascade Minerals and Bokashi. The minerals are for plant flavor and health. I have to assume that there are minerals trapped in the straw, but in what concentrations? There is no way to really know. I added about 2 cups to each bales and watered it in. at this time, I also inoculated with dry Bokashi.

At this point you are ready to plant. I use a knife and carve a hole in the wet bale. If you condition correctly, you will have an easy time planting. The use of peat pots or manure cups makes this process a breeze. I like to add some soil in the hole before I plant to acclimate the plant.

I had pretty good results with my DIY straw bale gardening projects this spring. Having said that I have found a much more effective method of gardening that is infinitely easier. This method is just as scalable and inexpensive compared to building raised beds; but without some of the challenges you may experience with the bales.

Until next time folks. #organarchist 

Feature image: Berries Growing in Straw, BonniePlants.com, September 19, 2013

John Brazelton My passion for growing healthy, sustainable food has brought me so much joy and knowlege. I look forward to where this adventure takes me.

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