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Salt marsh hay can be an effective, affordable alternative to mulch. This practice delivers countless benefits to a vegetable garden and garden beds.. A good mulch can retain temperatures in soils, prevent heat from getting into the ground in hot weather, thus retaining moisture. I set a new bed every year, buying 100 virus-free plants, and spacing them in four rows one foot apart, with the plants also one foot apart in rows. Some common mulches are wood chips, straw, hay, pine nettles, and … The seeds germinating in "straw" sounds like the gardener actually had hay. Living mulch provides the same benefits of other types of mulch while also enriching the earth. In our experience, spring is the best time to spread mulch. So after reading everyone’s comments, I am still confused IS IT HAY or IS IT STRAW that is to be used??? Here is a list of some great ways to use hay as mulch in your own garden. Another question: After laying the Hay/Straw over stalks, etc. The mulch farther back was applied a couple of days ago. If you want something that decomposes quickly and introduces nutrients over time, wood chips are a good choice . But using hay as mulch has some surprising benefits. So, does hay have a place in the garden? Since the day I mulched with hay, I have read many articles saying “NEVER use hay for mulch because of the many seeds that is embedded in the hay”. In the spring, any kind of plants can be set with a trowel through this cover. No matter which you choose, however, mulching your vegetable garden has multiple rewards: It suppresses weeds, holds in moisture, modifies soil temperature, lessens the chances of certain diseases attacking your plants, and adds an attractive look to your garden… After the corn has all been harvested, the stalks are simply flattened to the ground over the surviving strawberry plants and covered with several inches of hay. Sourcing Straw or Hay for Use in the Garden Straw and spent hay are both inexpensive and available most everywhere, so they are an easy option for using in abundance to mulch with. A string keeps the corn rows straight, and I push the kernels into the ground with my fingers, spacing them closely, and taking account of the way the strawberry plants are developing. Lori miles. The trick here is to find seed-free hay because any seed that you haven’t planted in your garden will qualify as a weed as soon as it germinates. It saves so much work weeding, adds nutrients to the soil, holds in moisture so you don’t have to water as often, and … It does not serve its purpose for they did not make a channel or tunnel that would connect to the drainage ditch that is beside the road. I have been trying to battle this wild hay for a year now and my summer garden is suffering from it. Mulches perform many duties in the garden by suppressing weeds, controlling water runoff, helping to control some garden pests, and also by creating a more attractive garden space. Hay, though, just may give you the best yield you’ve ever gotten out of your garden. Sometimes experimenting in the garden leads to the perfect solution. Kay – I’ve been mulching with straw for 30 years with great results. If a heavy hay cover is laid on even the toughest sod in the summer, plantings can be made through it the following spring. The following are some materials that are commonly recommended:-pine needles-hay or stray-wood … I am buying a couple of loads of garden soil, and I’ve laid in a good supply of wood chips. I have other areas out in the field that have layers of manure and hay built up and will be bringing those layers into the garden. Plant Residues — After trying many ways of disposing of corn stalks, ranging from composting to chopping and spreading, I have arrived at the nearly ideal scheme. Regular straw, which is a nearly nutrient-free stalk from grain-producing plants, is typically used to mulch vegetable beds because of its low cost and lack of weed seeds. Browse composting supplies at Compost Bin Supply. County wont allow me to fill it in. L.Fox. In other words, the lower the number the greater the amount of water that passes through the mulch and is available to plants. The greener the hay the more nitrogen it contains, however this nitrogen is lost very quickly and even good quality shed stored hay will rapidly deteriorate. Then I cover the flattened mess with hay. 4. It was awful. Hay and straw are often both used as weed control mulch in the garden but the results you get can be quite different. If you use hay, you will end up with more than you bargained for (weeds and grain … The first is to lay the mulch on already weeded soil, and secondly, to lay a thick enough layer to inhibit the appearance of new weeds. This is especially good for seeds and starter plants. I am planting carrot seeds, cabbage and herb seeds on the surface of topsoil, covering with 1/4–1/2 inch of compost, watering well, then lightly mulching (2-4 inches) with loose straw to keep in the moisture in our very dry climate here in Northern Colorado. Learn more in this article about how much mulch to use. It soaks up water and remains moist, which may seem a little unsanitary. One word of caution: mind your source of mulch. It can also attract pollinators. Some things to consider… You can ask for certified weed free hay. By Harold J. Ettelt If you have not tired organically grown strawberries this way, you may still be wondering if they are worth the time and trouble they require. And as far as mulches go, hay is a confounding one—it is prone to contain weed seeds, may have harmful residues, but—of course—a wealth of potential benefits, as well. The best example here would be the rubber mulch. Above: A tip for us non-farmers: there is a difference between straw and hay, and it is an important distinction if using for mulch. Coastal Bermuda hay is propagated vegetatively and makes an excellent hay mulch. We’ve certainly had our fair share of seeds sprout from the hay but I’ve started using rye grass for my mulch hay since rye grass: 1) is a cool-season grass and not likely to cause much problem during the heat of our Texas summers and 2) I like to overseed with rye in the winter to make a living mulch. If you can do this — you’ll be good to go using hay to mulch your garden. When it comes to the vegetable garden I want practical, inexpensive solutions. Your email address will not be published. But when it comes to the vegetable garden, mulching gets a bit more complicated. This is a great article, very informative, exactly what is need put in simple terms. Excellent for melons, cucumbers, and unstaked tomatoes, to keep the fruit clean. You can also lay a 4-inch mulch layer in the winter to prevent weed growth. When I first put it down, it has a straw-like color that I do not care for (it's really not that bad). Hay applied for the first time does little more than insulate the soil for several months, and if a beginning is being made in the spring, seeds should usually be well started before the mulch is spread. I will try to show how some of the ideas I have already mentioned apply in this scheme. I wish the potato company had never suggested the use of hay, and I hope you do not put hay in your garden either! I have found this article to be of SO MUCH INFORMATION – I am ready to re-do my home garden!!! Push seeds and starters right into the hay and watch them grow. I’ll be the first to admit that I was super skeptical about using hay in the vegetable garden as mulch. 6. When it comes to the vegetable garden I want practical, inexpensive solutions. When To Mulch Your Vegetable Garden. Keeps weeds down, keeps moisture in, keeps soil cooler, keeps plants from getting stressed. Acidity Alkalinity — If you use hay mulch continuously for a number of years, you can practically forget all about acid or alkaline soil problems—along with dusting and spraying and the use of chemical fertilizers and “soil conditioners.” I grow everything from beets to blueberries under this system, and pay no attention to acidity or alkalinity any more. She described a method of growing garden plants right in deep layers of straw, hay, wood chips, compost, manure, leaves or other organic materials rather than growing plants in the conventional finely tilled soil garden beds. Since I want results, not only on the strawberries, but on the corn to follow, I spread 100 pounds of Bovung and 50 pounds of bone meal over the bed as soon as the plants are well started. Hay is for the animals to eat. Straw or Hay. Meanwhile, they smother grass that would otherwise continually be creeping into the edge of the garden. Any suggestions? Don't Some Leaves Decay Too Slowly? @Ron in Illinios, Read this forum, it might give you more insight: http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/fourseason/msg060007559489.html. There are different kinds of hay. One year I ran out of wood chips and decided to try hay. When it’s time to close out your vegetable garden for the season or add new plants, stray and hay are easy to either work into the soil or rake up and replace. In the list of types of mulch for your vegetable garden newspapers are pretty close … First, before even thinking of putting hay on your garden, MAKE SURE IT HAS NOT BEEN SPRAYED! 11. Ask questions about where the mulch came from before you purchase it. Use as a mulch year-round or spread after the garden has been planted. I harvest all my potatoes with my bare hands, because it is so satisfying to handle the living soil and to discover one handsome tuber after another growing in it. The highest quality hay will have few to no seeds, but some are inevitable. There is a lot of controversy over that question! Garden Boundary — I like to keep several extra bales of hay along the side of the garden. It is always a bit of a judgement call - depending on the stage of your seedlings, and weather conditions. I would have to bet they are talking about using straw. This mulch covers the garden to a depth of 8 inches. The results are astonishing to anyone who has not tried the method, and the work is reduced to almost nothing. When it comes to materials you can use as mulch; the sky is the limit. You can see a healthy garden as being a well-mulched garden. @ L. Fox, Both straw and hey will work, and no they will not grow above with the stray they will still grow in the dirt. Shari. Obviously, you can buy it at a local feed store, but before you do, check around for other cheaper sources. Growing Potatoes — Large crops of the highest quality potatoes can be grown laying the seed (preferably small whole potatoes) on top of the remains of last year’s mulch. Organic and inorganic mulches are available as vegetable garden mulch options. Hay is a crop that is grown and harvested as … After the blossoms fall, I begin moving the hay carefully to see how things are progressing. Tender, new growth too soon will just result in more winter dieback. The hay bales were 3 years old and falling apart. Thanks! My vegetable garden is mulched with old or moldy hay and soiled bedding from stalls, which is our hay with added “pony pooh power”. Sign up to get all the latest gardening tips! Bark. Hay will not give you a dry layer of cover that is pleasing to look at, but it is a great mulch for growing flowers and vegetables, and you’ll get a fantastic yield. Over the years, I've mulched my vegetable garden with oat straw, newspaper, grass clippings, burlap coffee bags, leaves and black plastic. Over the years I have burned and sprayed and wasted money. According to the chemical school, everything should be riddled by insects and diseases, but I have barely enough evidence of these to realize what is supposed to be destroying my crops. With a string to mark the row, and a box or basket for the plants, you can move easily along, stabbing a trowel into the ground to make a deep slit. I also use spent hay as garden mulch. It was full of seeds! As for adding the compost, I would recommend raking back the straw or hey, then adding the compost and pulling the straw and hey back over the area. They are not long-lasting and frequently contain weed seeds. A guide to using mulch in your yard or garden. How to Mulch Your Vegetable Garden. Hay and straw both make great mulch in the garden as long as they weren’t treated with persistent herbicides or contain noxious weed seeds. With the Stout System, spading, plowing and cultivating are all unnecessary, and do more harm than good. I’d like to establish a vegetable garden like the one you describe but need to know if it is hay or straw you put down. http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/fourseason/msg060007559489.html. Her secret was a layer of permanent straw or old-hay mulch over everything. Looking for information on composting. The main idea behind winter mulching is to keep the ground frozen by shielding it from the warmth of the sun. For the backyard gardener to manage all of them is usually out of the question, and I have experimented for many years in an effort to solve the problem. Most backyard gardeners nowadays don't need, or would pay a small fortune for 25 bales of hay, straw, lucerne or pea straw or other mulch material. Use weed free salt hay to avoid adding weed seeds to the garden. @Dave, Thanks for your email. Sweet corn spaced six inches each way will do just as well as it will with the rows three feet apart, and you get six times as much corn from the same area. Organic mulch includes grass clippings, compost, leaf mold, pine needles, shredded bark, nut shells, cotton gin waste, straw hay, grain and fruit byproducts, composted manure, mushroom compost, peat moss, cocoa hulls, and sawdust. Mulches help soil retain moisture in summer, rain to penetrate the soil in winter, prevent weeds from … To start a garden, with seeds or starters, first create a thick layer of hay, up to eight inches (20 cm. The corn should be an early and strong-growing variety. I’ll stick with hay.I use it straight from the bale and some I will run through the lawn mower, mix and add to my raised bed vegetable garden. Actually, however, it takes about ten minutes a week. With hay you get a weed garden, with straw that clean mulch look and function. I make double rows, fourteen inches apart, with the seed the same distance apart in the rows. A string to mark the rows make this kind of planting very quick and easy, and the yield is usually well above average. As soon as the corn is harvested, I flatten the stalks to the ground by bending them over and stamping on them. Using hay or straw as mulch in the garden has the following benefits: Reduces moisture loss and reduces watering A lower number suggests the mulch has a lower tendency to absorb the water. The Cons of Using Hay Mulch In moist parts of the world, hay mulch has more of a tendency to harbor slugs and snails, so you need to keep a good eye out for them and have a method of removal ready. If you use thin layers, they tend to easily blow away. Unless the soil is very sandy, or unless it is well supplied with humus, hay will give poor immediate results. I had read horror stories about how hay can deposit weed seeds in your garden but I also read an equal amount of research saying that if you lay it on thick enough the seeds can’t germinate anyway. A typical bale can cover a 10' x 10' garden with about three inches of hay. The mulch near the sidewalk in this photo was applied a month ago. As early as possibly the following spring, before the strawberry plants are getting into full leaf, I seed sweet corn between the rows along each side of the bed. The potato harvest thus leaves the whole space in perfect condition for the next crop. To improve germination and prevent washing, there is nothing better than a very thin sprinkling of peat moss over each row of seed. They thrive in the warm, moist and nutritious cover and soil provided by the hay. @Rachel, Either pull up the seedlings or stop using hay. I merely cover the ground with hay, and wait for my strawberry plants to arrive. I’ve used hay for years … However, the materials basically fall into two categories: organic or inorganic. Hay is grown to feed animals and is rich in nutritious seeds; straw is nearly seed free - just the stems after the oats are harvested. Although you can mulch directly over grass, it may take a while and will require lots of patience. Weeding — Hay is a marvelous substitute for thinning and weeding. A living mulch is similar to a cover crop, but instead of tilling it into the soil, it grows along with your food crops. However, after a couple of weeks, it becomes a much darker brown (soil-like color). Thanks soooo much for sharing this information. Again, nothing remains to be done but to gather potatoes, as they are wanted. 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