Straw bales (not hay bales) are a great place to plant vegetables. Here's my start-to-finish results! The straw is an easy, loose place for the plants to spread out their roots. Also, up on the straw bale there is essentially zero weeds to pick. (Note: do not use a "hay" bale: unlike straw, the hay has lots of seeds and you will have wheat/oats/grass/etc. growing as weeds in your garden!).