Instructions for Next Year’s Hay/Straw Bale Gardners & Skordalia

My blog subscriptions are piling up in my mailbox which sucks, because it makes me feel like I don’t post as often as I should. Maybe because everybody else who has been blogging so much longer than I have, has the rhythm down, and wham bam they press out their posts. I don’t have time to read all their posts, much less do more than I already am except constantly taking pictures of our food.
Who would have thunk that now every time before we can sit down to eat, I have to be all over it with a camera first.
Picture files are piling up and need sorting.

Lentil soup and fresh sesame and caraway rolls were last Friday's dinner

Lentil soup and fresh sesame and caraway rolls were last Friday’s dinner

Seriously, I see fabulously talented bloggers and as I have mentioned in an earlier post, I try not to become too overwhelmed.
I do think though that my last post was a bit on the too longish side, so I shall be brief this time.

Roasted turkey thighs with acorn squash and potatoes

For those of you who want to do a bale garden (like we have been doing for the last three years):

Bales laid out before planting. Ideally they will need to 'season' (decompose) for 3 -4 months.

Bales laid out before planting. Ideally they will need to ‘season’ (decompose) for 3 -4 months.

If you’re thinking of doing a hay or straw bale garden next year, AND are also using hay bales as autumn decorations on your front yard; you might want to consider buying enough hay or straw bales to fully complete next year’s garden IF you have a place to keep them covered (like under a weighted tarp) until February. This will be the time when you would take out the bales to start ‘seasoning’ them prior to being able to plant in them.

To establish how many bales (the small rectangle kind, not the large round massive ones) you will need, you will first need to consider what vegetables you want to plant and how much of them. If you are doing it for the first time, I suggest you stay within conservative amounts. Then, if you find you are really into it, like us, then you’ll feel more confident planning the following year’s even bigger garden.

Our first garden. We had 20 bales in an E shape along a fence. The fence worked great for climbing beans. You need to be on good terms with your neighbor for this.

Our first garden. We had 20 bales in an E shape along a fence. The fence worked great for climbing beans. You need to be on good terms with your neighbor for this.

Each bales holds two (2) well established and fully grown plants. It might seem in the beginning like one could fit more, but the plants get big quick, and the bales also decompose more throughout the summer. By the end of the summer,when you will have two gigantic tomato plants in a bale, or two humungous zucchini plants, you will understand.

Mid summer bale garden.

Mid summer bale garden.

The things that we have found grow well in bales are:
tomatoes, basil, marigolds (those you plant all together), cucumbers, all kinds of squash, zucchini,cucumber, melons, beets, beans, and eggplants.  I haven’t tried leafy vegetables like lettuces or kale and cabbage, because they are for cooler weather and by that time I’ve lost my oomph.

Summer squash happy in a bale garden.

Summer squash happy in a bale garden.

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So, get your bales and think about how you will arrange them in the garden next year. After Halloween, if you don’t have a barn, stack them in a pile and cover them up with a tarp. I’ll tell you more when the time is right.

Skordalia (Greek garlic paste)
Great for serving with boiled, steamed, or roasted vegetables, grilled meats,  or as a dip.

Root vegetables roasted with olive oil, oregano, salt, pepper, and lemon.

Root vegetables roasted with olive oil, oregano, salt, pepper, and lemon.

When I first started this blog two months ago, I was asked by my virtual friend Harry (we met through friends on facebook) to post a recipe for skordalia. I immediately got to work. The reason it took so long is because there are three kinds of skordalia that I know of, and for each post I need to take a few pictures, don’t I?
There is also a limit as to how much skordalia one can eat in a month.

So sorry for the delay, Harry, and may you have as much fun trying these as we have had eating these!


Skordalia 1 – with a walnut base
This is the most unusual version, but my favorite, so I will start with that one.

1 cup of walnut pieces
2-3 garlic cloves (depending on how potent you like it)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup of breadcrumbs
1/4 cup (aproximately) lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
coarse sea salt
fresh parsley

Blend everything except parsley in blender until. If too thick, add a few teaspoons of water or lemon juice until it has the consistency of a thick dip. If too thin, add a little more breadcrumbs. Season with salt. Garnish with lots of roughly chopped parsley.


Skordalia 2 – with potato base

1/2 pound of potatoes
2 -3 cloves of galic
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
coarse sea salt
fresh parsley

Peel and boil the potatoes. When they are soft; drain them, then mash them in a bowl with a fork or wooden spoon.
Press garlic through a garlic press and add with remaining ingredients to the potatoes. Season with salt. Garnish with roughly chopped fresh parsley.


Skordalia 3 – with bread base
This recipe is great if you live in an area where you can easily get loaves of fresh bread from a bakery.  When this kind of bread is stale, it is the best for this. Otherwise, use breadcrumbs.

1 cup of breadcrumbs (with 3/4 cup of water) OR 3/4 lb of stale white or whole wheat bread slices
2- 3 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
coarse sea salt
fresh parsley

If you are using stale bread, cut it in slices, soak in water, and when soft, squeeze out the excess and place in food processor, then add other ingredients
If you are using bread crumbs, add them with the water directly to the food processor and combine with the other ingredients until smooth. If too thick, add a little more oil and water, if too thin, more breadcrumbs. season with salt and garnish with plenty of roughly chopped parsley.




4 comments on “Instructions for Next Year’s Hay/Straw Bale Gardners & Skordalia

  1. Lucy says:

    Fantastic garden Anke, thanks for the info re bale gardening. I think the mild, humid Greek climate here will allow immediate planting, after the initial fermentation of course. I was planning to use the bales as a rottable wall for a raised bed as we have a lot of good soil to relocate plus plenty of leafmould. Just a thought, could even build a (temporary) compost bin from them ????? xx

    • Anke says:

      Yes, I’ve seen this done! Just remember to not make the raised bed too wide. You want to be able to reach whatever is growing in the middle of the raised bed. You need to make sure the fermentation/decomposition is almost done before you start planting. The simplest method to do this is to just stick your hand into the bale. If it feels too warm for your hand, then it is still too warm for the roots of your plants. Watering them (but not necessarily soaking), helps speed things along but you still have to figure with about two months of decomposing time. You can also spray them every other day with a solution of water and 10% ammonia (I don’t remember if one can buy liquid ammonia in Greece since I had never sought it out), which will also break down the bales faster. Wait at least a week after your last ammonia watering before you statrt to plant. Have fun!

  2. one of the things i had to learn about blogging: pick & choose who you want to follow. there is a lot of inspiration out there, it can get all muddled if you have too many to keep up with and like most things, if you stretch yourself too thin, quality suffers and focus is lost, and it shows in your own creative space. to this day i keep my reader stark, it’s quality over quantity, which usually means that there are plenty of good blogs out there that i’m missing out on or will be late for the ride, and it’s OK.

    give yourself your own deadline, don’t base it on others. not everything you make should be blogged, or is blog-worthy. i had to learn that the hard way, i used to blog EVERY SINGLE DAY, EVERY SINGLE THING I ATE AND MADE. there was no mystery or QUALITY to it. now i keep it to one or two times a week and it better be something that i feel readers will like, based on picture quality and/or content.

    anyway, this is long, i’m sorry. i googled what hay straw bale gardening is, it’s interesting! i live in a condo building which doesn’t afford me much space to grow a garden, unfortunately.

    • Anke says:

      Someone long ago once told me; never say no to help or advice, so I am very appreciative. Thank you.
      Yes, I am slowly coming to the same conclusion; developing a discipline but trying not to force it too much. I see so many blogs that seem to be simply churned out and like you so accurately said, the mystery can dwindle.
      If you have a flat roof on your condo building, and you are allowed to use it, then bale gardening would be very possible. Imagine what everyone will say when they see you hauling hay bales through the building. 🙂

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