Thursday, September 18, 2008

Straw Balin'

Our lower field, cut and baled

As Permaculturists, we are really into our straw bales...we use them for lots of things, mulch, mulch, more mulch. Did I mention mulch? Mulch protects the soil from our pounding rain, and creates habitat for beneficial insects. In the dry season, it helps conserve water. And when used as an ingredient in sheet mulching (basically layering a lot of organic matter overtop of cardboard), it composts into great soil material. They are also additives to compost piles. We also periodically have dreams of using them for micro straw-bale building projects, like making a more sound-proof space for the generator. Earlier this summer, Drew and I stood in the garden and had a conversation that went sort of like this:

Me: We are gonna need to get a bunch more bales for sheet mulch projects this fall, to prepare bed space for perennials next spring.

Drew: How are we going to get them here without a truck? Delivery has gotten really expensive.

Me: I know, I'm not sure.

(Pan out looking south)

Drew: You know, we do have a lot of our own straw just right here in the ground.

Me: Hey, you are RIGHT! WHAT ARE WE THINKING? Some permaculturists we are.

It finally occurred to us that we could bale our own. HA! What a brilliant idea! Several weeks ago, Drew needed bales for his restoration project, and to that end, borrowed a hay rake and baler to use with his tractor, and voila, straw bales. WE have even sold some to the restoration project, and made a few bucks. Now that is thinking. It did require a little bit of learning on Drew's part, since we have never run hay equipment before. But even without the proper haying mower, we did alright.

I spent my morning bucking the bales with Ella in tow in her carseat, carting them back to the garden and the shed porch, before they get weighted down with the rain that is supposed to fall tonight. Not much on its way, but have you ever tried to lift wet straw bales?

Here's to sheet mulch and future raspberry beds...

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