I was out of town for a week at the end of July and holy cow! Did the straw bale garden - and the pallet gardens - take off while I was gone! Just goes to show a watched pot - err, bale - doesn't boil / grow.
I harvested chard this past Saturday - it was massive - probably a little too massive, but I'm game for chard any time. The tomatoes are huge, yet still green which seems quite late for cherry tomatoes and grape tomatoes. Maybe the nitrogen application was a little too much and I should have replaced one N application with a 10-10-10 application? Maybe it's just the kind of summer we are having. Looking over the Extension Master Gardener tomato trials as well as other tomato research in the garden, it seems green is pretty common even for mid-August. Hopefully, we'll get an extended, warm fall and be able to harvest some red fruit. Otherwise, there's always Green Tomato recipes.
I am unimpressed at the performance of my seeds in the straw bale garden however. When can you NOT grow nasturtiums and beans successfully? Apparently, I cannot in a straw bale. The beans are only just now starting to vine and the nasturtiums - hello? Where are you? A couple of piddly small plants is all I am seeing - maybe one blossom. True, the seeds near the tomatoes were somewhat overwhelmed, but I would think they would be doing pretty well by the chard where they had space and full sun. The Hungarian peppers are staying compact - and prolific. I haven't harvested those as I am leaving them for the Gopher Adventurers who'll be harvesting and eating - at the last class of the summer on Tuesday, August 20th. So far, I vote for transplants into straw bales. Maybe I'll try all seeds next year? (Then again, maybe not....).
The pallet gardens are over-flowing with mint and have produced a few 'T
wice as nice' melons and quite a few 'Jack be Little' pumpkins (with more to come!) The pallet gardens have been more interesting to urban gardeners I have talked to than the straw bale gardens. Less expensive, productive, and flexible enough to fit a variety of spaces. There's also a certain artistic and satisfying feeling about reusing refuse materials for garden beds. I would plant these again, but might go vertical and try an herb wall. Anchoring two pallets end-to-end like a triangle (the ground being the third side) would be cool too, and add some height to an otherwise flat site.