When it comes to growing an incredible harvest of cucumbers, it’s hard to beat growing straw bale cucumbers.
It is quite simply one of the easiest, low-maintenance methods around. And, for us, it has produced a record harvest for two years running.
Ever since planting and writing about our first straw bale cucumber experiment in 2017, we get quite a few emails wanting to know the exact process.
So for today’s article, we we will take you through all of the stages.
From initial set up and planting, to maintaining the crop and harvesting – here is our simple method to plant and grow cucumbers in straw bales.
Growing Straw Bale Cucumbers – The Process
Straw Bale Crates / Straw Bales
It all starts of course with our straw bales. We use ordinary rectangular bales that are about 18″ wide x 46″ long x 16″ high”.
We have never “conditioned” our bales. In fact, we have used brand new bales, old bales, and everything in between with great success.
As you will see below, with the way we plant with a soil mix, there is simply no need for conditioning.
We do however create inexpensive homemade straw bale crates to place the bales in. (See : How To Create Straw Bale Crates)
The crates are easy to make, and do an excellent job of keeping the bales and plants in-tact through an entire season.
They also make an excellent medium to attach trellises for plants to climb if desired.
Now let’s get to planting the bales!
How To Plant
We begin by cutting 3 evenly spaced holes on the top of the bale.
The holes form a shape of a triangle : with a hole in the middle front, and two holes on either side in the back, or vice-versa.
We use a reciprocating saw with a 12″construction blade, or a very sharp serrated knife to cut the holes down into the bale. It works incredibly fast.
Filing The Holes With The Soil Mix
Next, we fill each of the holes with our homemade super-soil mix.
We make our mix from pulverized soil, compost, coffee grounds, perlite and worm castings. See Recipe Here : Homemade Super Soil Potting Mix
We use that exact mix in all of our planters, pots and containers throughout the farm, and it simply helps plants to thrive all season long!
Planting The Bales
Once the mix is in, we plant a cucumber plant in each hole. We finish by adding a 2 inch covering of compost at the base of the plant.
This not only acts a mulch, but also helps to leach nutrients to the plant every time you water or it rains.
Maintaining The Bales In Season
You will find that growing straw bale cucumbers is about one of the easiest, low maintenance gardening tasks in the world.
You can attach a small trellis to the back of the crate if you want the plants to grow vertical. Or, you can simply allow the plants to trail over the edges.
We have done both, and both work equally well. As you can see from the picture above, by mid-season, you can’t even see the crate anymore!
We do fertilize our plants with a few teaspoons of worm castings around each plant at the 2 and 5 week mark after planting.
All that is left is to pick all of those cucumbers . And trust us, they will keep coming and coming!
At the end of the season, you can simply toss all of the decomposed straw and plant mix right into your compost pile.
It makes for a quick clean up. And, of course, great composting materials for your pile.
Here is to growing straw bale cucumbers! Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary.
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