Turning hey and straw into compost garden beds for our self sufficient living

Building long compost piles to serve as vegetable beds on rubble for spring planting.
Expanding our thriving vegetable garden on rubble for more self sufficiency.

wheel loader with grabble working to make straw round bales loose

We strive to become mostly self sufficient when it comes to our food. We established a lot of garden beds on rubble last spring. We made raised beds and filled them with normal soil we had bought. Buying the soil was needed to have a decent start in growing our own food and planting the fruit trees we had purchased. We just are not very fond of it, since there is no life in the sifted soil and the nutritional value is also very low. Although, after a growing season, these beds are getting better and are filling with life, we prefer to try out new ways of creating soil to expand our garden area. After seeing a video about the “Ruth Stout no work gardening method“ I suggested to just roll out a straw bale in the fall and sow in there next spring. Well rolling out a big round straw bale is not that easy and we do not really have soil (mainly rubble) underneath for the plants to grow in, so we decided to give it a little different approach. Mulching is not enough we need to build up soil for the plants to grow in and this is how we started.

Building compost beds

We are starting of with a bunch of round bales which have been sitting on the round site of the bale. Normally you do not store round bales like that, but we actually pressed these bales to compost for soil for growing vegetables and had used these bales as a “fence” and windbreaker around the children’s playground last winter. Here’s the post about that. We where hoping that if the bales sit like that, moisture goes in and in the bales the decomposing process will start. This did not happen and the bales did not really start to decompose, so we decided to use the straw as it is and see if the straw decomposes better if we spread the bales out.

We have 3 beds we want to build with these straw bales. We used our wheel loader to pick them up and divide them on the 3 rows we want to build up new garden beds.

After removing the netting we used the wheel loader with grabble to loosen the bales and make a row with the straw.

This was done last July and after a bigger saw project we divided the sawdust that came together over the 3 rows as well.

After a while the dogs had flattened and compacted the straw by playing over it and we found that the new garden beds had too little material, so we rolled one hay bale per bed out over the beds. This we just let sit over winter and hoped the material would decompose in time to plant in the spring.

Meanwhile we know this was not sufficient and we give the beds a different working to get the soil we need in time for spring planting. With time we will see what works better. I will document this in a separate post. So if this interests you, stay tuned for what’s next.

If you want to see what we did, here’s a video for you.

Author: beautifulchaosorg

Hi, I am Carolien and I am a Dutch woman trying to build a self sufficient homestead on concrete and rubble. Follow my husband and me on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@straverhomestead9667

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