In this update I want to share how things have been coming along with the “railway tie” hay bale bed. In my last update, I promised a write-up about planting in the bales as well. But I think it makes more sense to actually dedicate a completely separate blog post to that topic (I should be able to get that up sometime this week).
This is what the railway tie bed was looking like the last time I wrote about it (early June):
As you can see, the bed contents were just about level with the soil surface, and the bales were still looking pretty new.
Since then, I have continued to add quite a lot of material. Both beds have served as (seemingly) “bottomless” pits for all the weeds I’ve been pulling. And let me tell ya – it’s been a LOT of weeds!
I finally got so fed up with picking them all the time (as much as I do love using them as worm food) that I laid down a thick layer of hay over nearly all my gardens.
Apart from ongoing weed chucking, there have been two major deposits worth mentioning. The first of these took place back in the middle of June.
I started with a layer of moistened drink trays plus a partial bag of left-over alfalfa cubes I found during a clean out of my old shed.
Next, I added a garbage can full of rotten squash (left-overs from last fall’s spaghetti squash harvest) mixed with peat moss and cardboard.
On top of that I laid down quite a few flattened, whole corrugated cardboard boxes (also found during my shed clean out). Normally, I would prefer to shred the boxes or at least cut them into strips, but in this case I liked the idea of creating a brand new false bottom. It should help to keep things sheltered (and moist) down below, while also providing a nice platform on which to heap more material. I punched some holes in it with a garden fork so rain water could seep down.
Lastly, I added a thick layer of grass clippings.
Since then, I’ve continued to add more yard wastes and grass clippings…
…but as you can see in the next image, by last week the overall level of material was holding pretty steady.
Perhaps even dropping a little.
I decided it was time for another serious deposit!
Last Thursday my dad and I made a trip out to the stable where a friend keeps her horses, and we collected many bags of well-aged horse manure. An added bonus being that the heap has a very healthy resident population of Red Worms in it!
Before adding the wormy manure I added some woody yard waste (clippings from a honeysuckle bush). Normally, this isn’t the sort of material I would add to a worm bed – but as touched on in another post, I think it’s going to really help having these structural elements in the bed (to add bulk, improve aeration etc).
I did at least make sure to cut it up really well before adding it!
Next I added the manure, and watered it down really well…
…before topping it off with really thick layer of loose hay.
IMPORTANT NOTE: I should mention that my larger bed received the same materials as well (honeysuckle + manure + hay). And I also added a lot of grass clippings, and more weeds to both beds over the weekend.
It’s nice to see the level of material in the beds finally starting to creep up the sides of the bales – but I still have a ways to go (especially in the larger bed) before they are actually “full”.
Amazing how much material beds like this hold!