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I think you are asking ME how my plants are - Douglas does not have a straw bale garden! Yes, I had to cover my plants last night - we too got the cold weather in Orlando.
I did get to enjoy fresh tomatoes, green and wax beans as well as romaine lettuce for the holiday meals. I also got to harvest many of the herbs that I grow.
The ones I didn't cover look very bad but will come back. I can't wait to try the straw bales this year because I want fresh veggies from the USA!
Did you actually do the 11 day conditioning program that the UFL website outlined before you planted? I mean the ammonium sulfate, 8-8-8 and 10-10-10 stuff over an 11 day period? Also did you
I did 'hollow out' holes for the tomato and other plants that had been started before planting, and for my beans and other plants needing 'cover', I just placed the seeds on the straw bale and
I also am in the process of putting a gutter up to catch rainwater in some old water softener tanks I got for free - they were tossing them - and they hold 75 gal each. I have a drip hose that runs along the bales now and the rain water keeps my water bill much smaller - plus no chlorine all over my plants!
So far I've added fertilizer and watered them everyday to get them started
Your rainbarrel idea is ingenious..
Have fun with it - you always have next year if it does not work well - but you should have no trouble.
Check for feed stores in the Orlando area - there used to be one in Apopka, not sure where else.