Straw vs Hay Bale Gardening

Straw vs Hay Bale Gardening

 Last year I posted a series on straw bale gardening.  You can learn all about it here. Basically straw bale gardening involves setting out bales of straw and planting veggies or flowers directly into the bale. Straw bales are available at most feed stores or on Craigslist if you live out in the country like me. One of the most common questions about straw bale gardening is will hay bales work in lieu of straw?

The difference between straw and hay

Straw is made from hollow stalks of grain. Usually farmers use it for bedding for the animals. Hay is made from grass, alfalfa or clover. It is cut and dried used as food for the animals when fresh orchard grass isn’t available.  Straw is much lighter than hay and is usually more green colored. Hay is more yellow.

I paid about $8 a bale for my little straw bales over a year ago. I loved using the hay to garden in so I decided to expand. I didn’t want to pay that much for more bales so I scored some free hay bales from my sister in law. Her horses didn’t like the taste of that hay.

I decided to show you the difference between the straw and hay. After over a year the straw has held up wonderfully. The hay on the other hand is literally falling apart after 6 months. It’s also sprouted lots of grass.  The quality of the hay wasn’t very good so using a better quality hay might give you better results.

Straw bale still going strong one year in

Hay bales in front straw behind

You can see it’s literally falling apart

 These pics are from last month before anything was really growing. I’ve got potatoes growing in the hay bales and garlic going in the straw.
  If you are thinking of substituting hay for straw, don’t bother, go with the straw. Unless you can get hay for free. Free is the best price! 
Have you tried straw bale gardening?

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