It’s been a long time since I’ve shared an update (or really, written anything on the blog! lol). My last Hay Bale Vermigardening post was on June 8th!
Even this post itself was started almost a week ago.
Needless to say, it’s been a busy couple of months, but the good news is that the majority of my serious outdoor work is now complete, and the “real world” worm biz has also slowed down a fair bit. So, I should have more time for updates in coming weeks!
Since it has been so long, I figured I should break this update into two parts. Part 1 (today’s installment) will discuss how I finished digging and setting up the long bed. Part 2 will provide an update on the (smaller) “railway tie bed” and talk about planting in the bales.
OK, so let’s dive in shall we?
Here is a picture to remind you of where I left off with my last update. It appeared as though I was very close to finishing the excavation of the bed. And that’s how it felt at the time as well.
Looks can be deceiving – haha!
It’s amazing how much more work I actually still had ahead of me. But at least it seemed somewhat “easier” with the end in sight.
Partially because I was fed up with digging, but mostly because I needed to be able actually get out of the bed once finished (lol), I left a platform of dirt at the far end.
Something rather amusing (after the fact) I realized – that helped to explain why it felt like the last stretch was taking forever – is that I kept gradually digging deeper from one end to the other (guess that also helps to explain why it felt like the project was “going downhill” – yuk yuk!).
At the starting end, the bed is only about 18″ deep, whereas at the other end I got down to about 30″ or so!
Finally…it was time to get the bed set up!
Once again I figured it might not hurt to lay some landscape fabric down along the bottom of the trench – my thinking being that it might help a little with moisture retention.
Unlike with the railway tie bed, which has a false bottom consisting of multiple layers of wet cardboard, I decided to start with a thick hay layer at the bottom of the long bed.
The (first layer of) wet cardboard came next…
…followed by quite a few bags of worm-rich aged manure.
It was quickly becoming apparent that it was going to take a LOT of material to fill this bed!
So I basically switched into “everything but the kitchen sink” mode.
Bins full of miscellaneous yard waste? Perfect!
Heap of old raspberry canes? Sounds good to me!
The entire contents of several outdoor composters?
Maybe I should excavate the contents from an entire vermicomposting trench and dump that in?
Now we’re getting somewhere!
Even MORE comfrey?
Yabba dabba doo!
Wow – still loads of room for more material!
I give up…
Let’s just lay down another bale of hay and call it a day!
I think all the different bulky material layers are going to help a lot! Not only will it be easier to get the level up closer to the top of the bales more quickly, but it will provide great habitat structure for the worms, and allow for plenty of air flow.
I know at least one of you was wondering what on earth I did with all that…earth!
Answer? I basically just laid most of it down all around the perimeter of the hay bale beds.
I’ve never been a serious fan of lawns, so any excuse I have to take over more of it works for me! Plus it was a great way to suppress weed growth in the zones surrounding the beds (not that weeds are so bad – they’ve served as an important bed filler this year! lol).
Of course, I couldn’t just leave that beautiful platform of soil to sit unused!
So I set up a couple more rows (which used up the remainder of my bale supply).
As touched on earlier, in my next installment (hoping to get it up later in the week) I’ll let you know how things are coming along in the railway tie garden, and I’ll finally start talking about the actual “gardening” component of this hay bale gardening project!