The straw bale garden has actually been pretty good. You can't really tell from this picture. I have not actually helped the plants in the bales as much as they need, but they have done well considering that. I started with four straw bales and I put 10 tomato plants (2 per bale) to begin the season in the March-April time frame. I put two plants in a straw bale at the corner of our house that received morning sun along with a basil plant. There are some trees in that corner as well and as the summer began and these trees leafed out the tomatoes were really shaded. I ended up moving these near the rest of the plants in the sun and they soon died. I think if I had started these in the sunny location they would have been fine. The basil plant has thrived. The other eight tomato plants have done well and have actually produced more than any other tomato plants I have this year.
They were slow to start producing so I didn't get the jump I had hoped for using the bales. However, It has opened up the possibility of planting items in less than desirable ground locations in my yard. I have planted some kale and spinach seeds this week in two of the bales to see if the seeds will germinate. I did try to germinate some seeds in the spring and they did not sprout. I feel this was because the straw bales had not cooked enough yet. I think they are better prepared for seeds now as they have broken down inside. I have planted some kale, spinach, carrots and pak choy. The pak choy has started to sprout. We are hopeful to get some plants going. We will update you on the progress.