Straw Bale Gardening: Bale Conditioning Day 7-12

Things are moving along slowly but it is still cooler temps here in MT and raining. Also since I have so many bales to water at once I’m just using my well water which is cold. During the conditioning process it mentions to use warm water to help break down the straw faster.

Using cold water and an organic nitrogen source during conditioning will most likely prolong the process a week or more.

I followed the instructions for day 1-6 exactly. I’m changing things up for day 7 – 9+.

Here are the oringinal instructions for day 7 – 9:

Day Seven to Nine

Days seven through nine use half the rate used on day one. This would be ¼ cup of a complete garden fertilizer or 1 ½ cups of Milorganite fertilizer. Thoroughly water the bale each time.

Since I’m not using warm water during the conditioning process the Milorganite fertilizer is not breaking down quickly. It’s actually accumulating a good pile on top of the bales. See the pic below…

Since there is so much nitrogen still on the bales I’ve decided to just water in between the days that I add 1.5c of Milorganite. So this is my new conditioning schedule:

DAY 7: 1.5c Milorganite and water

DAY 8: water (I’m here right now)

DAY 9: 1.5c Milorganite and water

DAY 10: water

DAY 11: 1.5c Milorganite and water

DAY 12: water

I am at day eight right now. I have a long compost thermometer pushed in one of the bales and yesterday morning it read 40 degrees. The whole day was beautiful and warm, finally. This morning the bale read 60 degrees. So it seems the bales are finally starting to cook. Yes!!!


I’ve added a soaker hose to the bales. One hose doesn’t seem to be enough. I’m thinking of attaching a “y” fitting at the beginning of the hose and running two soaker hoses instead. I feel this will water the bales more efficiently.

I’ve also decided to create a soaker hose irragation system for the main garden.  At this point I have expanded my garden to 380 square feet of growing area, so watering everyday, sometimes twice is going to be a harder challenge for me.

I did a lot of research and sketching. After a few headaches I figured out how I was going to build it. I have ordered everything and now just waiting.

Until next time – Happy Gardening.


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