I had a lot of straw bales left over from last winter, and a lot of animal bedding that needed to be cleaned out. I hunted around on the net for ideas on what to use leftover bales for. Apart from all of the straw bale house building ideas, I eventually came across the idea of thick straw mulching for veggie gardening. Here is a site that gives you the general idea : http://www.goveganic.net/article182.html
It seemed deceptively simple, and turns out that it is. Basically you pack your beds thick with straw. Grow seedlings, and when they are ready to plant out, make a small hole in the straw, plant them and pack the straw back around the stem. And that’s it. You get the odd weed pushing through the straw, but you just pull that and drop it on top of the mulch pile.
Previously we were using lots of compost and digging over the beds, or using a disc harrow to work in manure, but weeds were a huge problem overtaking the vegetables. Now we are just packing any organic matter as thick as possible on the ground, and the veggies love it.
If it wasn’t for using this technique, there is no possible way that our veggie garden would have survived the recent drought and 40 degree temperatures (C not F). Granted it didn’t grow very quickly, but now that we’ve had some rain, everything is taking off.
I am currently making seedlings of autumn vegetables like chard, celery, brocolli cauliflower, lettuce and maybe some late tomatos etc ready for when the weather cools off a bit.