You can create a quick, easy raised bed using bales of straw. The idea is simple: You form a bed frame with the bales, then fill the space inside with a mixture of premium quality potting soil and compost. A raised bed made of straw bales is a convenient, inexpensive way to build your first garden or add to your existing growing space.
Bales of wheat straw, oat straw, or alfalfa straw work best. Hay bales also work, but they carry a lot of seeds, which may become a nuisance. Look for bales bound with synthetic twine, which won’t break down.
Over the first growing season, the bales will settle and decompose a bit, adding nutrients to the thriving garden inside. A raised bed made of straw bales could last a couple of growing seasons, depending on where you live. (It will decompose more quickly in warmer, damper climates.) As an added bonus, when the straw does begin to break down, it will begin to create a rich soil you can use for future planting.
(Some gardeners plant directly into the bales, which requires that they first “cure” the bales so that they break down and create a composting, soil-like growing environment. You can learn more about this technique in our How to Condition and Plant a Bale of Straw for Gardening article.)
Click through the slideshow below for a step-by-step guide to creating your own raised bed from bales of straw.