Ruth Stout was the author's name that used kitchen scraps tucked underneath a thick straw mulch in her garden. She was a real character and an inspiration for a few generations of gardeners.
Straw bale gardening uses square bales conditioned with nitrogen (bone meal, blood meal, manure, fertilizer, etc.) and kept wet by watering often. The bales decompose from the inside out and create a rich container of composted soil for the plants. I use hay bales (can't get straw locally) and they've always done well, although, sometimes it takes a while for them to "cook" (decompose enough for planting).