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Hay Bale Gardening Potatoes: Grow & Harvest Guide 2024

Hay bale gardening with potatoes allows you to handle planting space and control cultural conditions.

Generally, hay bale gardening with potatoes involves using cured and pest/ disease-free hay bales to plant potatoes at a depth of 4-6 inches and about 6-12 inches apart over a compost layer on hay bales.

Seemingly an easy task, there are crucial points that you should checklist before growing potatoes on hay bales.

To remain updated about the tips and tricks, follow the article below!

Which Is Better: Straw Or Hay?

Straw and hay are both plant-based dried agricultural products with several benefits.

Some uses of Straw and Hay include animal feed, bedding, mulch, fuel, and building/ construction material.

However, hay and straw have individual origins, advantages, and cost ranges, as shown in the table below.

OriginBy-product of Cereal Crops (dried stem stalks)By-product of Grasses/ Legumes (dried whole plant parts)
CostLess ExpensiveMore Expensive
Nutrient ContentLowHigh

Although people use hay in the form of hay bales as feed for livestock (horses, sheep, goats, cows, etc.), you can also use them to grow your garden produce. 

What Is Hay Bale Gardening?

Hay bales are large, cylindrical, or cubical, tightly bound dry grass/ legume bundles weighing around 50-50,000 pounds. 

You can easily see them in farms and ranches as they are used as livestock feed during winter when the grass is not growing.

Besides using them as nutritious feed, hay bales are slowly gaining popularity in gardening. 

Hay bale gardening setup is the process of growing vegetables in hay bales, similar to straw bale gardening.

Image represents Hay Bale Gardening
Hay bale gardening involves hay stacks on which you can grow vegetables over a layer of compost.

Some advantages of growing vegetables in hay bales are as follows.

  • Hay bales allow growing vegetables early during the season as they can absorb heat quickly, even during winter.
  • Since you can vertically stack up the Bales on top of each other, Hay can be a good option to grow your produce in a limited space.
  • As hay is lightweight, you can maneuver them easily for best placement and sunlight exposure.
  • Hay bales can suppress the growth of unwanted weeds that usually crop up from soil gardening.
  • Since Hay is dry plant parts of legumes/ grasses, and they are rich in nitrogen, offering your veggies the nutrition they require. 
  • As an organic material derived from plant parts, hay bales decompose in the soil over time and modify the soil pH.

Be Careful!

Hay bales can attract pests and diseases.

Although organic, wet hay bales can attract molds.

Hence, always watch for pests/ diseases and treat the molds by replacing the hay substrate frequently.

With proper technique, you can grow Bush Beans,  in hay bale gardening, including potatoes, Bush Beans, Tomatoes, Lettuce, Egg Plants, Summer Squash, etc.

Guide To Hay Bale Gardening With Potatoes

Perhaps, hay bale gardening can be best used for growing potatoes. 

How To Grow Potatoes In Hay Bales?

Here are the steps to growing potatoes in hay bales.

1. Preparing The Hay Bales

  • First, pick hay bales free of pests, diseases, and molds.
  • Keep the Bales moist by soaking them in a container with water about 3-5 days prior to planting your potatoes.
  • Ensure you change the water daily to prevent mold growth. 
  • Then, add a layer of compost on top of the hay bales as a nutrient source for your plants.
Image illustrates the planting space between the Potato plants in Hay Bales
Potato tubers need at least a foot of distance while growing.

2. Planting The Potatoes

Follow the following steps to plant your potatoes in hay bales.

  • First, cut the potatoes into pieces and ensure at least 2 eyes are on each piece.
  • Plant them on the organic compost about 4-6 inches deep and 6-12 inches apart.
  • Ensure to plant about 4-6 Potato pieces per Bale for promising growth and harvest.
  • Moisten the bales weekly or every 3-5 days during hot spells.
  • Moreover, apply a balanced fertilizer (half cup per bale) every 2-3 weeks, about 6-8 weeks after planting.
  • Offer 6 hours of direct sunlight for your plants and adjust the watering schedule.

3. Harvesting The Potatoes

The time taken to harvest the potatoes may depend on the environmental conditions and climate.

Normally, you can harvest the potatoes after their leaves turn yellow. However, Early Seasonal potatoes take 80-90 days, Mid-Season potatoes take 90-100 days, and Late Season potatoes may take 100-120 days to harvest.

After your harvest is ready, use a trowel or hand to uproot the plants and pick up the potatoes.

However, following a fruitful harvest, don’t let the bales go to waste and reuse them to plant bunching onions during winter.

From Editorial Team


Prepare the hay bales 6 months prior, using fertilizer and water to make them more nutrient-rich.

Further, sustain a temperature of around 100-150°F inside the bales for warm root growth.