Starting Seeds for Straw Bale Garden | 2016 Grow your Own Challenge

This entry is part 6 of 31 in the series Grow Your Own Challenge

Starting Seeds for Straw Bale Garden. Part of the 2016 Grow Your Own Challenge

This post is part of the 2016 Grow Your Own Challenge where we are trying to grow the vast majority of our produce for the year in suburban Minnesota. This article is about how we started seeds for our plants. We will be planting these seedlings in our straw bales in early to mid May. Learn more about Straw Bale Gardening. Don’t forget, this is a great project for kids to help with! Mine love the garden!

starting the seeds

Ok everyone, most people will tell you to start your seeds 6-8 weeks before the last frost. With a straw bale garden, you can actually tent the bales and the decomposition of the bales will generate heat. By using the trellis and a plastic sheet, you can actually plant seeds and small plants weeks before the expected last frost.

In Minnesota, our last frost date is about May 15. I want to aim to have my bales conditioned and set to plant on May 1. So I will start the two week conditioning process April 15. To get my seeds ready for the big plant, I put them in dirt for the the first time on March 15. This is 8 weeks to the last frost, and 6 weeks from when my bales will be ready to plant. During the first week in May, I will carefully watch the weather. If it looks decent with no hard freezes, I will tent and plant. Otherwise, I can always just wait a bit.

starting seeds

Some plants will be seeded directly into the bales such as carrots, beans, peas, and lettuce. Other’s can be transplanted to the bales as seedlings. Those are the plants I started March 15. Here’s the list:

  • Herbs
    • Parsley – 10 plants
    • Cilantro – 5 plants
    • Mint – 5 plants
    • Fennel – 5 plants
    • Cumin – 5 plants
    • Basil – 5 plants
    • Siam Queen Basil – 5 plants
    • Lemon Basil – 5 plants
    • Cinnamon Basil – 6 plants
    • Rosemary – 5 plants
    • Oregano – 5 plants
    • Sage – 5 plants
    • Marjoram – 5 plants
    • Thyme – 5 plants
    • Tarragon – 5 plants
    • Dill – 10 plants

eggplant seeds

  • Food Plants
    • Peppers
      • Jalapeno Pepper – 9 plants
      • Cayenne Pepper – 9 plants
      • Beaver Dam Peppers – 3 plants
      • Hot Portugal Pepper – 5 plants
      • Garden Sunshine Pepper – 5 plants
      • Sweet Bell Pepper (variety) – 15 plants
    • Asian Eggplant – 6 plants
    • Eggplant – 5 plants
    • Zucchini – 6 plants
    • Leeks – 10 plants
    • Red Cabbage – 7 plants
  • Food Tunnel
    • Acorn Squash – 6 plants
    • Jack-Be-Little Pumpkins – 6 plants
    • Butter Nut Squash – 5 plants
    • Birdhouse Gourd – 5 plants
    • Silver Ball Squash – 2 plants
    • Turkish Turbin – 2 plants
    • Pennsylvania Dutch Crookneck Squash – 4 plants

tomato seeds

  • Tomatoes
    • Canning Tomato Plan: (31 total needed)
      • Early Treat Hybrid – 3 plants (49 days –  May yield)
      • Independence Day Hybrid – 3 plants (56 days – Late May)
      • Steak Sandwich Hybrid – 3 plants (70 days – June)
      • Porterhouse Hybrid – 3 plants (74 days – June)
      • Delicious – 3 plants (77 days – Late June)
      • Supersteak Hybrid – 16 plants (80 days – July)
    • Fresh Summer Tomatoes
      • Cherry Tomatoes – 10 plants
      • Hillbilly Potato Leaf Tomato – 2 plants
      • Mortgage Lifter (Halladay’s) – 2 plants
      • Ukrainian Purple Tomato – 4 plants
      • Silvery Fir Treesee Tomato – 4 plants
      • Black Krim Tomato Heirloom
  • Cucumber
    • For Pickles
      • Picklebush – 15 plants
      • Pickle barrel hybrid – 20 plants

pumpkin seeds

  • Vines for the Hill
    • Jack o Lanterns – 17 plants
    • Hybrid (300lb) pumpkins – 5 plants
    • Criss-Cross Watermelon – 3 plants
    • Honey Dew Melon – 6 plants
    • Pride of Wisconsin Cantaloup – 3 plants
    • Watermelon – 2 plants
    • Spaghetti Squash – 1 plant
    • Canteloup – 2 plants

In the end, there are a bunch of seed trays and small pots filled with planting soil and seeds. It’s official We have started seeds for the straw bale garden. Now we wait to let the germination begin. Soon, we will have a bunch of seedlings and we will take the best of them to take to the bales in 6 to 8 weeks.

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