In a garden update post from this spring I had mentioned sprouting potatoes in my storage. I had planted these in straw bales which I use as a wind protection. Here is a picture from this spring.
The potatoes in the straw bales seemed to do well despite the heat and the drought. The plants where nice and green, unlike many other plants turning yellow. Such decomposing straw bales do keep moisture in well.
Unfortunately some straw bales fell to the side and the rainwater just run to the ground without soaking into the soil for the potatoes. These 2 straw bales did not give many potatoes and they where very small.
Some of the straw bales fell in itself and if there would be any potatoes to harvest I was not be able to reach them.
In one of the straw bales I found around 30 pieces of larva of a cock chafer very compact together. I searched and hope I found all. This straw bale did not give much yield as well.
One straw bale was partially hidden underneath a tree and had protection from the burning sun most of the day. This I noticed in the yield from this straw bale. This was a lot more then in the other straw bales. This straw bale gave about 3,5 kg. In comparison the other 4 straw bales, I was able to harvest, also gave around 3,5 kg. So growing in the straw bales this way does not give me the advantage I hoped for in times of heat and drought. The straw keeps moisture in, but the plants do not really root into the straw. Therefore the moisture is not really available for the plants. (Of course this was a small scale experiment with very lose boundaries)
The straw bales have decomposed so much by now that we removed the netting around them and have a somewhat messy pile of straw left. We will leave it over winter like this and see how much it will decompose further. I hope in spring it will be ready for us to grow food in it. For now the pile of straw is still a wind protection for the hill beds beside it.