Bales of hay may seem like dry and sterile autumn decorations, but you can grow a surprising amount of vegetables using hay bales in your garden. This gardening method is especially useful for seniors and others who have a hard time bending over to work in traditional garden plots, as the base of the plants is set higher above the ground. Hay bale gardening is an attractive way to add planting space to your property, and will create valuable compost that can be dug into the soil for next year's garden.
Purchase bales of hay that are tied with a rope instead of those wrapped in wire. The rope will rot along with the hay, adding to the eventual compost in the fall.
Place bales of hay where you want your plants to grow. The bales will be too heavy to move after they have been soaked in water, so choose your spot carefully. Make sure that it gets at least 6 hours of sunlight per day, and is in a spot with easy and convenient access for gardening ease.
Hammer stakes into the ground around the bales of hay. These stakes will help the bales to hold their shape when the hay begins to rot and break down.
Soak the bales of hay with water twice a day for the first 2 days. Make sure that you add enough water so that the center of the bales is wet.
Sprinkle 1/2 cup of nitrate of soda on top of each hay bale on the 3rd through the 5th day. Water each bale thoroughly after sprinkling the powder.
Sprinkle 1 cup of 10-10-10 fertilizer on top of each bale on the 6th day. Water the bales thoroughly after fertilizing them.
Make a half-and-half mixture of potting soil and bagged compost on the 7th day. Spread a 4-inch layer of this mixture on top of each hay bale. Water the bales carefully so that you don't wash the soil mixture away.
Plant your seedlings on the 8th day. Place the seedlings at the same depth as they were growing in the smaller pots. Pat down the soil around the stems to secure the seedlings. Water the bales thoroughly.
Keep your hay bales well watered throughout the growing season. Check inside the bales frequently. The outside hay may dry out a bit, but the inside needs to be kept constantly moist.