Taking the Straw Bales’ Temperatures

I have been checking the internal temperature of my straw bales to see if they are starting to decompose inside. According to the information from Joel Karsten at strawbalegardens.com, the bales should start to heat up about now.

thermometer in straw bale
Taking the straw bale’s temperature

I checked yesterday — in the 40-degree cold rain — and found that most of the bales were only about 60 degrees internally. Today, some were even colder. Because we have had a lot of cold rain and weather affects how quickly the bales start decomposing, I decided to put on the recommended plastic sheeting to warm the bales more.

I’m on the seventh day of the 10-day conditioning program, and the bales still need to heat up (they are supposed to go as high as 145 degrees F) and then cool down before I can plant. Hopefully, the slightly warmer weather this weekend and the much warmer temperatures next week will get things cooking.

Have any other straw bale gardeners had similar experiences?