R Scott wrote:IT DEPENDS!
Round or square?
Wire, sisal, or synthetic twine? or wrap?
Straw or grass or hay?
Tightness/density of the bale?
I have seen bales from the same field, time, and machine, stored side by side--only difference was the operator of the machine--that were so different in quality that one set was compost by spring and the other was still quality feed a year later.
There are things you can do to speed up decomposition if that is what you want. Pretty much the opposite of all the advice to make them last longer (DUH), plus inoculate them-put some forest soil on top and water/pee it in.
If you start with poor bales of a good C:N ratio and inoculate them I think they will be compost in a year. If you start with good tight clean bright straw, it will take longer.
George Meljon wrote:[Another benefit is it will solve the "where do I get soil from?" question for hugelkulture.
Matu Collins wrote:You can tell the density by how easy it is to slip the twine off. If it slips off easily it's loose!
The wetter the straw the quicker it will decompose, peeing on it is a big help.
This will solve the "how do I cover the logs" problem of hugelkultur but not the "where do I get soil" one. Without soil added to the mix, decomposed straw is just compost. Sand, silt and clay are all a part of healthy soil. You can mix compost and soil together for a good hugel log covering. I know this from experience! Compost is not the same as soil.
R Scott wrote:Set them on edge, put good dirt inoculate on top (or use compost tea), water them until they start to drip out the bottom, pile them back into stacks about 4x4x4. As they heat up, restack them so the outside is in like the Berkeley compost method.
Keep them in the twine as long as you can, they are easier to move around that way. But if you break them loose and do a full-on Berkeley compost pile, you will get it done in 3 weeks. I would need the rest of the year for my back to recover, though...