i am too, but also like tart at times too so i can work around it or not depending upon my mood. i'm cutting a lot of extra sugar out of my diet the past several years. i feel better for it so i'll keep at it.
as for woody splinters @Lazy Gardener i've never had that problem and i'm not sure if it is just the variety i have here or that i don't eat it at some times of the season at all (early near to the spring cold it isn't recommended because oxylates can be an issue and my feet do seem to notice if i eat too much of it and later when it gets into the hottest part of summer then i don't eat it any more either because it starts getting "stung" by bugs and i've had enough by then anyways). it may die back during the hotter part of the summer unless we get some good rains to keep it going. it will come back again for the fall but i don't touch it then.
Rhubarb does tend to get woody towards the end of the season, and that was when this batch was harvested. I'm also guessing that it came from a garden that was not amended properly. I'm guessing that rhubarb would be taboo for anyone who had gout issues. My chickens LOVE it in the fall. They decimate the leaves. I think it's a natural antihelminthic.
I have been thinking hard on starting some greens in the house for winter gardening. One of the problems that I have had is that it is so dry in our house that the plants seem to dry out and don't grow very well. Would an extremely dry environment cause issues with hydroponic gardening - or could I possibly get the added benefit of more moisture in the air?
Absolutely no issue with a dry house. The Kratky system is pretty much closed, so there is not much surface area exposed for evaporation. The plants take what they need from the nutrient reservoir. They always have ample NUTRIENTS AND MOISTURE. My house is also very dry. We use wood heat, do not use a humidifier. Generally, the colder weather tends to also be dryer. Our humidity runs 11% or less.
1. Many authors state that you should use straw, not hay for this method. I strongly disagree for the following reasons:
A. Straw is a mono-crop. It is the left over stems, after a grain crop has been harvested. IMO, it does not have the nutritional content of hay. "They say" that a bale of hay is "more weedy" than a bale of straw. I say: If a bale is conditioned properly, most of the seeds will be destroyed by the heat. A bale of hay OR straw will have seeds sprouting on the surface. Those can easily be "mowed off before planting your crop. The sides of the bale can be covered with cardboard, scrap lumber or plastic if you so choose. I've found that seeds sprouting from the sides of a bale are a non issue. And, seeds sprouting at the top are also a non issue.
B. Hay is more likely to be a "clean choice". Many grain crops are heavily sprayed with glyphosphate to force seed heads to mature for harvest. Do you want that as a growing medium for your food? No matter which you chose as a base for your bale garden, it's imperative that you check to see if the source is "clean". Some hay fields are sprayed with the new generation of herbicides which have a very long half life. They don't readily bio-degrade. Meaning: they persist in the vegetation which is then baled and fed to the herd animals. They persist in the animal's gut, persist in the manure, and persist in the composted manure. An unsuspecting gardener who uses hay, manure, or compost that is contaminated with any of these herbicides may poison his garden soil for YEARS. Often, the only sign that a garden is poisoned is that the plants grow, but do not fruit. KNOW YOUR SOURCE. I ONLY BUY HAY FROM A NEIGHBOR FARMER, AND EVERY SEASON, BEFORE PURCHASING HAY FROM HIM, I ASK THE SAME QUESTION: "HAVE ANY OF THE FIELDS THAT YOU HAY BEEN SPRAYED?" When I see a bale of hay that is "weedy", that actually reassures me that I am buying from a "clean" source.
C. Have you priced a bale of straw lately? Last time I checked, here... which was years ago... it was at least $8.50/bale. Mulch quality hay from a clean source cost $3.50/bale here. In many areas of the country, you can find spoiled or mulch hay that is free or selling for less than $2.00/bale. Spoiled hay is great. Consider that it is already partially conditioned!
2: "They say": Place the bale on the ground, with a weed barrier underneath it, allowing it to drain freely at all times. I have found that hay bale gardening requires A LOT OF WATER. I DON'T WANT THE WATER AND NUTRIENTS TO DRAIN OUT OF MY BALE RIGHT AWAY. So, I usually place my bale on a sheet of plastic, which I then wrap up around the sides. (6" or so is fine, then I can still plant herbs, flowers and such in the sides of the bale) I poke holes in the plastic to allow the water to drain out the sides, while keeping a bit of water in the base. You can make adjustments if you find that your bale is too wet by poking more holes here and there. So, I place a weed barrier, plastic, then the bale.
3. Most authors mention the standard fertilizer options. Options that are rarely mentioned: High nitrogen sources. I have a bag of urea that I've been using here and there for decades! It's great for boosting the nitrogen in a carbon only compost pile. It's also great in very limited quantities for conditioning a hay bale. Lawn fertilizer is high nitrogen, while also providing some P and K. That's great for the initial stages of bale conditioning. You can then switch over to a balanced garden fertilizer for the later stages of conditioning. Other high nitrogen, but rarely mentioned sources: Ammonia. Be sure to use UNSCENTED laundry ammonia. Urine. Yes. You heard it right. URINE! The average American pees out more vitamins than many people in other countries have available in their diets. Urine makes a great garden amendment. It is high in nitrogen, and it is sterile. You'll have to do a bit of research, regarding the amount of ammonia or urine to use, and how much to dilute them. The facts are out there! IMO, you can't go wrong with urine to condition a hay bale, even if you use it full strength. Weed or compost tea are also great options to get a bale off and running, as well as providing extra feeding as your bale garden matures.. Keep an eye on your plants in the bale garden. They will let you know if they are not getting enough nutrients. Like all gardens, you will most likely need to add some extra nutrients as the crop matures.
4. "They say" tall crops are not a good choice b/c they will cause the bale to break apart or fall over. Yeah... that can be true... unless you plan ahead. Place your bales against a sturdy trellis/fence and provide adequate support for those tall crops to grow up. Provide enclosure for your bales so that they don't fall apart. I often enclose the sides of my bales with scrap wood, and a turn buckle affair with wire completely surrounding the bales from back, and sides, to the front. Using these 2 methods, you can grow those tall, or sprawling, or climbing crops in a hay bale... If you don't over plant! Cattle panels, and basket weaving provide good options for plant support.