Straw Bale Garden 2013

Where I work, we have an outdoor area that could be very nice.  There is a covered deck, surrounded by a nice fence, and quite an open space.  However, it is rock, with weeds mixed in. There is not much to look at, but it has SO much potential. After a conversation with my boss and coworker, we decided to finally take advantage of that area – and the “Straw Bale Garden” was born!

Full credit must be given to my coworker, Emily, who also serves as my gardening instructor (god bless her because I know I am driving her crazy with all of my questions.) She is the mastermind behind this whole thing! As our outdoor space is mostly rock, this was the most sensible (and cheapest, easiest) way to grow our own veggies at work. To get started, we first took a poll at work at what type of veggies/plants everyone wanted. The results are as follows:

  • 4 “better boy” tomatoes plants
  • 2 cherry tomatoes
  • 2 zucchini
  • 1 yellow squash
  • 1 eggplant
  • 2 banana pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • salad greens
  • 12 marigolds
  • 10 asparagus crowns (planted in tractor tire)
  • strawberries (planted in tractor tire)

Then the fun started.  Last Friday, we blocked out the afternoon and went shopping for straw bales! Our organization supports local businesses, so of course local nurseries were our first stop! All week we watered and prepped the bales of straw to get ready to plant. We also set up two tractor tires to use for the asparagus and strawberry plants. Today, we once again made the trip out to a local nursery and bought the plants.  Then the planting began! We got everything planted except for the salad greens and strawberries – that is to come!

See below of the work done so far, and I will be sure to keep you updated on the straw bale garden! For specific information regarding the wonders of straw bale gardening, check out Emily’s blog at elephantgrace.com.

 

Garden Dream Team workday outside the office!

Garden Dream Team workday outside the office!

@elefantgrace at her creepy scarecrow!

@elefantgrace and her creepy scarecrow!

Obviously @elefantgrace is the professional! I looked confused or ran into things the majority of the trip!

Obviously @elefantgrace is the professional! I looked confused or ran into things the majority of the trip!

Straw bales with the plants (salad greens have not been planted yet.)

Straw bales with the plants (salad greens have not been planted yet.)

Prepping the tractor tire. "Reusing" cardboard, shredded paper, and newspaper to fill in the space.

Prepping the tractor tire. “Reusing” cardboard, shredded paper, and newspaper to fill in the space.

"After" picture-asparagus and marigold.

“After” picture-asparagus and marigold.

Garden Dream Team!

Garden Dream Team!

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Talking the talk, but am I walking the walk?

My job is recycling.  I was hired to maintain the Recycling Grants program and develop a recycling education program for a six county Solid Waste District. This includes coordinating the office recycling program, helping cities and counties develop recycling programs, and promote recycling in schools.  I help coordinate community-wide recycling events and workshops and educate people on why they should do it.

REDUCE. REUSE. RECYCLE.

That is my motto…..  That is what I preach… That is what I do…..  at least I do at work.

My friend came to see me at work yesterday.  As we were talking about my new position, she asked me a very pertinent question, “How are your recycling activities going at home, away from the office?  Do you practice what you preach?”  Red-faced and guilty-feeling I had to admit that my recycling activities at home are non-existent.  Whoops! Guess I am much better at running my mouth about what others should do, while not actually practicing what I preach. I was asked this yesterday, and it has bugged me ever since.  Why don’t we recycle cans or glass bottles at home?  Why do I just throw my paper away when we have a recycling facility in town that takes it? This bugged me all afternoon yesterday and was weighing heavily on my mind when I got home.  I really don’t do anything to recycle??  AM I REALLY THAT WASTEFUL! 

As I worked around the house, got supper together, did laundry, made another batch of fabric softener (that’s my next blog post), and other wifely duties, I started realizing that I am practicing the “reuse” part of my talk.  The glass jar full of tea that I just handed my husband was actually an old spaghetti (cleaned and sanitized) jar, the trash bags I use in the bathrooms and laundry rooms are actually Wal-Mart sacks rather than the smaller waste bags, my homemade fabric softener container is an old commercial fabric softener container, and that stack of newspaper in my garage will actually be in my flower bed before too long (future blog post).  I realized that while there is so much more I could do, I have already started recycling in some ways. Below are just a few examples.  I also use cardboard and newspaper in the garden (smaller boxes work good to hold Tupperware and Walmart trash-bags under the kitchen and bathroom counter).  If it is a sturdy plastic food container, I keep it to take food to the lake or for other storage (I use a sturdy plastic container frozen strawberries came in to hold my baking soda and a large Folgers coffee container works perfect for a big batch of potato salad for a weekend lake trip.)

Glass jars can be used for anything, including holding homemade facial scrubs and cooking utensils.

Glass jars can be used for anything, including holding homemade facial scrubs and cooking utensils. I refuse to throw any away!

Unstoppable containers is PERFECT to hold my laundry detergent.  Laundry detergent container is perfect for homemade fabric softner.

Unstoppable containers are PERFECT to hold my laundry detergent. Laundry detergent container is perfect for homemade fabric softener.

Three different shirts, All are worn out/have holes.....Use fabric for scarf!

Three different shirts. All are worn out/have holes. Use fabric for scarf!

Garden Border OR Fishing Pole Holder

Garden Border OR Fishing Pole Holder

There is always more I can do.  I am starting to compost, coming up with “new” uses for “old” items, and taking every opportunity to reduce the unnecessary waste I bring in the house.  As I grow the Montgomery Household Recycling Program, I will be sure to give updates and share any useful tips (and pics) I find along the way.