Island Updates

Fall Update: Straw Bale Gardens

Post by Josie Gates, Program Instructor

With growing vegetables comes the task of protecting them from pests of all shapes and sizes. For us on Hurricane our most pesky nuisance is the handful of deer that live on the island. In late August they unfortunately found our straw bale garden (you can read about how we set this garden up here), hopped our fence and ate everything within a night. While it was a bit heartbreaking (every gardener who has experienced this can sympathize) it did get us excited about taking the bales apart and turning them into the plot they sit on in our hopes of making that plot an in-ground garden for vegetables in years to come.

 A look at our newly turned in garden

A look at our newly turned in garden

 Pulling the straw bales apart

Pulling the straw bales apart

To start that process we first took all of the remaining vegetable plants out of the bales and turned them into our compost pile, which sits in the adjacent granite foundation. Next we cut the strings around the bales and pulled them apart. The bales have been decomposing for the past few months, so they came apart incredibly easily, and what we found in the middle was rich, brown decomposing straw and actual soil! While I knew that this was the goal of the straw bale garden it was very rewarding to see that our summers worth of hard work had really paid off. We grabbed our pitchforks and shovels and turned the straw as best we could into the in ground plot. Next we will cover straw with seaweed and let it sit and continue to decompose all winter. The straw bale garden was a fun and fruitful experiment this year, as well as a great learning tool for our summer programs. I hope to try this gardening method again next year, as well as work on our fencing methods…

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