Arranging and planting the straw bales
Unfortunately Straw Bales are treated very often with chemicals whilst they are stored. Make sure that you take Straw Bales which have not been treated with Chemicals, other while it wont decompose and nothing will grow.
When the Straw Bales arrive to your playground, allow the children to play on them as much as possible. It is an amazing stimulating material which awakens all senses.
The children can draw a map of the outdoor area and discuss where the Straw Bale Garden shall be placed.
The Straw Bales can be pulled, pushed and rolled over by the children and all together they will bring them to the final place.
Spread a layer of soil on the Straw Bales.
Water the Straw Bales as much as possible. Water and soil will speed up the process of decomposing which is need to grow plants in the Straw Bales.
The children can decide what to plant: seeds, bulbs or seedlings. Make a hole into the Straw Bales, pull some straw out to enlarge the hole, fill soil into the hole and place the seed/bulb/plant into the soil.
Making labels for the seeds is a good exercise for writing skills. Any weather resistant materials like stones, wood or foam is useful.
By measuring the growth of the plants the children gain very important informations. Make with the children measuring sticks with cm tape and a growth statistic to keep records of growth.
The children should keep watering the Straw Bales according to weather conditions.
Watering the plants according to weather conditions is a duty which all children should participate. Place a water barrel with a tap nearby, so children can easily fill their little buckets with water as well as cary and empty it on the seeds and plants.
Small Plastic bottles can be recycles for watering the plants. The children can explore the effect of vacuum.
For bigger and wide Straw Bale Gardens it is useful to ad a host with small holes next to the plants.
As the plants start growing children get very exiting of following the growth. Discovering all kinds of leaves, blossoms and last not least the vegetables is an amazing experience.
All kind of pumpkins are a pefect choice. If you have any trees in the surrounding, the pumpkin plant can grow up into the tree. I like to make three Legs out of strong branches that the plants grow from leg to leg. Pumpkins will grow fast and the children can measure the length of it. The little new vegetables are like magic for the children.
Tying strings to the plants in order to support them, is a very good exercise for making knots.
Fresh plants are the favourite food of snails... Try with organic methods to keep them away from your Straw Bale Garden.
Towards August - September the children will discover among the different plants the big sunflowers, vegetables and recognise a change of colours. It will be the time of harvesting the vegetables together.
Red and green paprika, eggplants, tomatoes, pumpkins and even strawberries... all of it should be picked by the children.
Have a big table ready to collect all in place. The children can count and measure length and weight of the vegetables.
Last not least celebrate with the children the Harvest Festival and prepare food with the vegetables you collected from the Straw Bale Garden.