Baby snapping turtle enjoying a 'walk-about" on our Bell Buckle property as I was mowing. I moved it to safer territory.
I was tempted to use a Robin William's technique from one of his movies but there is no specific location I am sending these well wishes to, so.... good morning to all!
I wish that knowing all too well that this morning is not the best for everyone for a wide range of reasons, health, accident, tragedy, depression, and the list goes on. BUT, we are still on this earth and dwelling on the negative too long will only make it worse so.... I do my best to find something to be happy about.
As most of you know, gardening makes me happy, except for when the bugs bite and storms wash away and....., nope, I'm not goin' to go there. :-) There are many short cuts that have come from texting, emailing, and the internet in general and many I roll my eyes about but smiley faces or emoticons are not one of them. I can smile even when I am not smiling. .
Anyway, the garden.... More than half of what I have planted is in the ground but the straw bales are gaining, with more peppers, garlic, yellow squash, purple secretia.... Huh? Purple secretia? Where does that fit in with veggies? Well, I like to mix things up a little and I overwintered some of this plant and needed a place to plant it.
One place is being overrun by a big dog who can't change her pattern to walk around it and I wanted something on the end of the square bales to soften the edge so.... purple secretia http://tried-and-true.com/annuals_variety/setcreasea-purple-heart%E2%84%A2/ By the way, you'll see several spelling of this, so spell it your way.
Some of my older bales are already growing grass and mushrooms. To me, this is not a bad thing but I know it would bother others. I see it as signifying the straw is rotting and capable of sustaining life and that is what I want. The few grasses and mushrooms can be quickly dispatched if and when I desire.
All this wet weather has made my experiment "easy peasy". (There are several ideas where that saying comes from so Google it if you are interested.) At any rate, the rain kept the bales moist without additional watering. My oldest bales are going on four weeks and rotting nicely but when I dig down deep to plant a plant, I notice there is still much more composting to go. They last about two years so it is not surprising.
While warm, they are not hot and I attribute that to not using stronger nitrogen. That's OK with me. It should not get too hot to damage the plants and until they rot, the straw will be like a growing medium used in hydroponics. I was planning on doing hydro/aquaponics anyway.
A note about cutting the holes in the bales, if the bale has rotted well I can see how a seedling can be slipped in the decomposed straw with a little potting soil watered in, but if there is still substantial straw structure present (as in mine) and you are planting a sizeable plant that has already got a reasonable root structure, then cutting the opening can be a little more than you might expect.
With the older bales I was able to just pull most of the straw out to make a hole but the bales just a week newer required something to cut and chop the straw. I tried a trowel, knife, posthole digger before sharpening a narrow spade and hacking at the straw. One I put the purple secretia in, intending to baby it along but I cut a few more and have left them open to allow more water to get into the bale, along with some more cotton seed meal, fish emulsion and a blender mix from my smoothies.
The lesson learned for me is "patience grasshopper". If I am in a rush I would use commercial nitrogen fertilizer. Don't buy a bunch of it or you might get a visit from the ATF. (100's of pounds) Since I was not in a rush, or thought so, I have to wait a little longer for nature to "do its' thing". I've still got plenty of garden to weed, and plant so.... ohmmmmmm.
Anyone want to share their experiences? I don't mind if it contradicts what I have said. It will be good to know other methods, experiences, viepoints......