Monday, February 29, 2016

Growing Veggies in rentals

Renting has its own set of restrictions.  There are the obvious restrictions such as the fact that you can't just knock out a wall because you suddenly decide you want an open concept living space.  But there are also some subtle restrictions that you don't think about until after you move into a rental.  

Vegetable gardening is sometimes one of those "hidden" restrictions.  Not because your landlord is against your having a garden, but usually because you don't really have the space for one.  

For people who are elderly or disabled, having a vegetable garden can seem like a pipe dream because of all the stooping and bending required with traditional gardens.  Then there's the tilling involved, the digging, getting rocks out of the garden spot, bad soil....the list is pretty endless.  

So imagine my joy when I ran across the following website!  I have never known anyone who has actually tried this type of gardening, but nonetheless, I immediately ordered this book!  It has been awesome!

If you are like me and live in an urban setting, where to get the bales might seem a bit daunting to you.  Not to worry!  Get out the old phone book, find a nursery and they can get you all the bales you could ever want.  Some of them even deliver.  If you have to go get them yourself, it's not as bad as it may seem.  The bales are about 2x4 feet and they are held together by cords so all you have to do is grab the cord and throw it in the back of your pickup or trunk of your car.

These bales can be slapped right on top of concrete, put into a container of your choice or you can just lay them flat onto the ground.  They are amazingly forgiving of their platform.  If your landlord is afraid the bales will kill any grass beneath them (they will) then reassure him/her that once the bales compost, the grass will be even more beautiful than before....or....agree to put them on the driveway, patio, against the house or can even put them into existing flower beds already on the property.

This is a super easy and very low maintenance way to grow both vegetables and flowers.  For years I did the old fashioned "in the ground" version and bale gardening has it beat all over the place.

One upside to bale gardening (aside from the fact that it's raised) is the fact that I don't have to till the soil.  I also don't have to weed.  I also don't get as many pests that want to eat and/or ruin my vegetables and my dogs don't want to dig in my raised veggie garden.  

You can be as simple or as detailed as you want in the planning of your bale garden.  Below are a few photo's that can give you ideas as to the layout.

A single bale sat inside a container.   

A larger version - more bales in a larger container.

Look at this idea!  A tomato archway!

How's this one for creative and charming?

Placing the bales up against your house (or a fence) will not only prevent you from having to weed those areas but will also keep the bales from killing the lawn if your landlord is concerned about that.

You can make your bale garden as large or as small as you want.

You don't have to just grow can stick flowers in there too. 

With this type of gardening there is no tilling involved.  No digging with a shovel.  No worries about digging into an underground utility like your gas or water lines.  No worries that maybe your soil isn't as healthy as you would like so that means no testing of the soil, no improving the soil.  No weeding involved.  None of the usual headaches associated with gardening from the ground.

What do you need to get started?  You need bales of straw - not hay - straw.  You will need potting soil (1 large bag per bale) and you will need vegetable garden fertilizer.  If you are going to plant climbing vegetables, down the road, you will need to fashion a trellis so they will have something to climb on.  

You can get fancy with this or you can stay rustic and simple.  It's all up to you.  

First you condition your bales so they begin to "cook".  This process takes about 2 weeks from start to finish.  Once your bales are conditioned, all you have to do is add your vegetable or flower plants or seeds and then keeping it watered, watch it grow.

For more details in the process of conditioning your bales, please visit the following website  

I can promise you will love this method!!....and so will your landlord.

As always, enjoy your space!

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