Guest Post: Why Not Start a Survival Garden with Straw Bales?


The following guest post is by John Wesley Smith of

When it comes to survival gardening, think outside the row. One of the things I like about gardening is there are so many ways to do it. Three examples:

And a fourth:

  • Straw Bale Gardening?

If you haven't heard of straw bale gardening, the concept is quite simple. You plant seeds or root transplants in bales of straw, not hay. Here are a few key features which make it ideal for survival gardening.

  • Can be done anywhere
  • Low Maintenance
  • No Physical Strain
  • Conserves Space
  • Ideal for Poor Soil
  • Straw Breaks Down into Compost
  • Fewer Weeds to Pull
  • Bales last up to Two Seasons

Follow these instructions to begin your Straw Bale Garden:

  1. Pile your bales to a comfortable height & water them thoroughly. Wait 1 week as the cooking/composting process begins.

    Watering the Straw Bale

    photo credit:

  2. Open up holes for planting and fill in with soil before you plant. Be sure to include extra soil around the filled holes, on top of the straw bale. The bales are now a hybrid of container/square foot gardening.

    photo credit: Gloria Kupferman

  3. Water often during the summer. Fertilize, too. However, the more you fertilize, the sooner the bales break down. If they're too broken down to reuse, put them in with your other compost.

    Frequent Watering of Straw Bales

    photo credit:

With a package of emergency garden seeds and some bales of straw, you're ready for survival gardening anywhere.

Emergency Seedbank via

Emergency Seedbank via

By the way, there's still time for fall gardening in many parts of the country. Why not start a straw bale survival garden this fall?

Find additional resources on straw bale gardening in a post on John's blog entitled Survival Gardening with Straw Bales?”


-The Berkey Guy

2 Responses to Guest Post: Why Not Start a Survival Garden with Straw Bales?

  1. James Mann December 29, 2011 at 2:56 am #

    Now that’s a pretty cool idea. Never thought of using bales of straw for a garden. Growing up on a farm I chucked a lot of bails of straw but only ever used it for bedding for farm animals.

    We’ve had a vegetable garden for the past 5 years and love gardening. If I can get my hands on some bales I would like to give this a go.

    • admin December 29, 2011 at 9:35 am #

      Thanks for the comment James! I had never considered the bales for gardening either until I had read the article. Have a happy New Year!


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