Salt Hay. If I were to place hay covering the area will this help cut down the massive weed growth? This mulch covers the garden to a depth of 8 inches. As soon as the corn is harvested, I flatten the stalks to the ground by bending them over and stamping on them. Mulching your garden with hay using this method may require a large quantity, but you won’t need to add the same amount year after year. I prefer to keep this cover fairly thin. You can see a healthy garden as being a well-mulched garden. The first thing you need to know is that there is a difference between hay and straw. Tender, new growth too soon will just result in more winter dieback. If this happens, one will be able to benefit from the lesser need to water the vegetable. 3. I am working on my first organic garden and this is so helpful. I make mounds of last year’s mulch. 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. The following spring, potatoes are laid on top of whatever remains of al this, and mulched with a heavy hay blanket. The results are astonishing to anyone who has not tried the method, and the work is reduced to almost nothing. Water organic mulch; Watering organic mulch using your garden hose will save you time. Soil Temperature — Piling a heavy hay mulch onto the cold wet ground early in the spring is not a good way to start. 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. They are used more frequently as a winter mulch for protection. Bark. The method of mulching heavily with hay has enjoyed widespread if unpublicized use for many years. 5. Then the cat takes naps on the cool hay … Just slip the old pitch fork under the affected area and flip it like a pancake. 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. A living mulch is similar to a cover crop, but instead of tilling it into the soil, it grows along with your food crops. 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. In some areas it’s required within city limits so as to avoid the spread of non native grasses. Planting — Sweet Corn can readily be sown by merely pushing the seed kernels into the ground through the hay 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. If you want something that decomposes quickly and introduces nutrients over time, wood chips are a good choice . Straw in the Garden. When I first put it down, it has a straw-like color that I do not care for (it's really not that bad). Mulch comes in many different types, with each providing benefits to a garden bed. I tried potatoes this year with tublers, buried 6″ deep, as they grew I covered them with straw, as instructed – didn’t get a lot, still had to dig in the dirt – I thought they were suppose to grow in the straw – was disappointed. Even the most beginner gardeners among us know about mulch, but there are so many different options: hay and straw, woodchips, leaves, compost, and even rocks. Required fields are marked *. I put straw down on all my gardens last fall for protection as they are all new gardens. I look forward to hearing back from you. A lower number suggests the mulch has a lower tendency to absorb the water. So after reading everyone’s comments, I am still confused IS IT HAY or IS IT STRAW that is to be used??? Many of the plants, which included garlic, squash, beets and chard, were not even rooted in the underlying soil, just the mulch. Living mulch provides the same benefits of other types of mulch while also enriching the earth. BIG MISTAKE! Using a mulch in the vegetable garden has become a very popular and almost necessary item. Mulching with hay is a gardening secret that only a few know about. I took them up on their advice and placed HAY over my seeds. Use weed free salt hay to avoid adding weed seeds to the garden. Push seeds and starters right into the hay and watch them grow. I really don’t want to do this not for the fact it is illegal but I do care about the land and don’t want to contaminate it. 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. Some fungal infections may affect garden plants; Mulching Your Garden. Although you can mulch directly over grass, it may take a while and will require lots of patience. Boost Vegetable Garden Harvests by Mulching With Hay Read how one green-thumber spread 60 bales of hay on his 600 square foot garden and got amazing results. 1. If a heavy hay cover is laid on even the toughest sod in the summer, plantings can be made through it the following spring. I just got done burning it and went through with a machete, again. A typical bale can cover a 10' x 10' garden with about three inches of hay. Plants first , then drip lines, then hay. Now for the rotation. I will if all else fails, I’m tired of it. Salt marsh hay can be an effective, affordable alternative to mulch. However, the materials basically fall into two categories: organic or inorganic. Excellent for melons, cucumbers, and unstaked tomatoes, to keep the fruit clean. 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. If you need to make your soil more acidic, pine needles will work best. There is a difference and the picture here seems to show straw. The best mulch that you can use is the one that is available in your area for free, if possible. Unless the soil is very sandy, or unless it is well supplied with humus, hay will give poor immediate results. This mulch type is very often used for kids playgrounds and landscaping projects, but there are even people that use the rubber mulch in their vegetable … Therefore resulting in tons of unwanted weeds in my garden. Hay can be an Excellent Mulch if. Narrow paths separating crops of different sorts give you ready access. @Dave, Thanks for your email. 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. Will the seeds come up ok with the straw mulch? It’s not an obvious choice because it is soft, dense, and spongy. The main idea behind winter mulching is to keep the ground frozen by shielding it from the warmth of the sun. Instead of pulling unwanted plants out of the ground, and disturbing the roots of others, I bend the weeds flat and pull hay over them. In other words, the lower the number the greater the amount of water that passes through the mulch and is available to plants. Hay and straw are often both used as weed control mulch in the garden but the results you get can be quite different. One word of caution: mind your source of mulch. 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. Three rows of onion plants occupy a space only a foot wide, and son on with all the rest. The highest quality hay will have few to no seeds, but some are inevitable. 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. It is fantastic! Straw is made from the stems of oats or wheat, after the seeds have been harvested as grain. 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. 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. 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. Meanwhile, they smother grass that would otherwise continually be creeping into the edge of the garden. Back in Ruth Stout's day, mulch materials were easier to come by due to a more rural community. Bark mulches are best used around trees, shrubs, and in garden beds where you won’t be … Salt marsh hay can be an effective, affordable alternative to mulch. 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. When I first put it down, it has a straw-like color that I do not care for (it's really not that bad). The hay bales were 3 years old and falling apart. Actually, however, it takes about ten minutes a week. Here is a list of some great ways to use hay as mulch in your own garden. Is it okay to mulch with straw over seeds that were just planted? 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. If you use hay, you will end up with more than you bargained for (weeds and grain … 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. Tilling — On most new ground, a few inches of hay in the fall will make it possible to plant any kind of crop the following year without disturbing the sod. Alfalfa hay … 2. There is no need to till the soil or enrich it with topsoil. Both straw and seedless hay work well as mulch, although, if you’re mulching an ornamental foundation planting, neither would look attractive in that particular setting. This is the way I would choose if I had enough property and the means to harvest the hay. Here is a list of some great ways to use hay as mulch in your own garden. For vegetable gardeners, each type of mulch — organic and inorganic — has a unique purpose. … If you have enough property to grow your own hay for mulch, you can harvest before the seed heads develop. 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. My vegetable garden is mulched with old or moldy hay and soiled bedding from stalls, which is our hay with added “pony pooh power”. County wont allow me to fill it in. I now have the same mess you describe and think my garden will be wiped out because it’s become a hay field. Learn the different types in this article and their attributes to help you make an informed decision on mulch for vegetable plants. Why Mulch the Garden in Winter? Learn more in this article about how much mulch to use. A garden mulch option that you don’t often hear about is living mulch. Straw and hay, for different reasons need to be treated much the same way A walk down each side of the bed, with a pair of grass shears in hand, will take care of the runners about as quickly as you would ordinarily inspect the plants anyway. inch layer of hay mulch between plants to discourage weeds, improve the quality of the soil, conserve moisture, preserve temperature, and create a pleasing appearance. It is right up there as one of the most often types of mulch used. 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. This mulch also provides a nice home for beneficial insects and spiders who will help control the harmful bugs who may try to take over your vegetable garden. These types of mulch are light and clean. 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. However, after a couple of weeks, it becomes a much darker brown (soil-like color). Hay, though, just may give you the best yield you’ve ever gotten out of your garden. 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. 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. Grass Clippings. Planting — Sweet Corn can readily be sown by merely pushing the seed kernels into the ground through the hay mulch. I think that hay made from pure alfalfa will probably have fewer seeds in it than hay made from timothy and grasses. I just started using hay as mulch about 6 weeks ago after reading Ruth Stout’s book and it’s great except that the hay is sprouting in places. Irish Cobblers are the best to eat this way, I think, but any variety with plenty of butter and home-grown parsley is a treat that few people have ever had. The method of mulching heavily with hay has enjoyed widespread if unpublicized use for many years. Straw is mostly carbon and as a material is similar to, but with less nutrients than grass hay. A generation ago, Ruth Stout was world famous as the "No-Work Gardener." 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. Some say to mulch in fall and others say spring. 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. I live in central Maine and am trying to establish an organic garden. In one bed of our vegetable garden, I put half a foot of dead leaves topped with half a foot (or more) of this chip material. This can be hard if you have another mulch on top, yet the time it saves weeding may be worth the effort. It was good to read this. Have you ever had this happen? (This was one helpful article.) 1. Keeps weeds down, keeps moisture in, keeps soil cooler, keeps plants from getting stressed. The seeds germinating in "straw" sounds like the gardener actually had hay. By Harold J. Ettelt 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 is mostly carbon, of all the different types of mulch, hay is one of the most common. Then there are the seeds, which are minimal in high quality hay, but are always present to some degree and are likely to include weed seeds. It is over ran with weeds of all types. Apply at least 3 to 6 inches thick. Thanks. The best vegetable garden mulch is the one that works best for your plants and soil. Your email address will not be published. Sign up for our newsletter. Using hay or straw as mulch in the garden has the following benefits: Reduces moisture loss and reduces watering I have had goats for a number of years and the pen originally used has a thick layer of manure and hay. I have a drainage ditch on my property that the county had dug for an over flow. @Ron in Illinios, Read this forum, it might give you more insight: http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/fourseason/msg060007559489.html. 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. Hay is for the animals to eat. L.Fox. it is definitely “hay” . It was the worst mistake I have ever made in my garden and I am so unhappy that I took their advice. @Shari, Yes, you can mulch over seeds but it may slow the growth just a little. You can also lay a 4-inch mulch layer in the winter to prevent weed growth. The weeds from the oats and barley were worse than all the other weeds. I wonder if mulching with straw over the hay will help. Use as a mulch year-round or spread after the garden has been planted. Her secret was a layer of permanent straw or old-hay mulch over everything. You can find this… I’ve used hay for years … It is primarily used as animal bedding. Results. Over the years, I've mulched my vegetable garden with oat straw, newspaper, grass clippings, burlap coffee bags, leaves and black plastic. Please dont do it! 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. The water will provide enough moisture to the soil. One of the best natural mulches for the garden. I mulch my vegetable garden differently than my flower gardens. Thanks! Hay Mulch in the Garden. So, does hay have a place in the garden? 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. Just recently I mulched my tomato plants with hay because straw was very scarce around this area and twice as expensive as hay. 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. Another question: After laying the Hay/Straw over stalks, etc. The potato harvest thus leaves the whole space in perfect condition for the next crop. In the winter, the mulch keeps the soil warmer than it would be without mulch. Steve -I was wondering about that – if putting straw over the hay will do the trick. The pine straw mulch is made from dried pine needles and it’s exceptional for vegetable gardens. Thank you for sharing your experience. The mulch farther back was applied a couple of days ago. Wish me luck and be careful with the hay/straw. Hay was used. Studies show that mulching your vegetable garden can increase (or even decrease) yields by as much as 30%, so as important as mulching may be, the type of mulch used is an even greater factor contributing to gardening success. Marsh hay is my first choice for mulch in my garden, but you can also use straw, leaves, grass clippings or anything else that’s local to your region. 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. Your email address will not be published. Here is a list of some great ways to use hay as mulch in your own garden. Small potatoes an inch or two in diameter can be separated from their stems without disturbing the parent plants, and the hay then replaced. Be sure the mulch is thick enough, 3-6 inches are needed to be effective. -mahniay. U know this is old, BUT a bale of good alfalfa feed, usually cut before it sets seed to ensure adequate nutrition, has never sprouted the first seed in my garden. I have Ruth Stout’s original book “No-Work Garden Book”. 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. Ask questions about where the mulch came from before you purchase it. 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… I can set 100 strawberry plants in a half hour without hurrying much. My fruit trees and shrubs get mulched with bark or wood chips, and I mulch the perennial beds with cocoa shells or compost. To improve germination and prevent washing, there is nothing better than a very thin sprinkling of peat moss over each row of seed. My husband thought I was crazy. However, after a couple of weeks, it becomes a much darker brown (soil-like color). Keeps weeds down, keeps moisture in, keeps soil cooler, keeps plants from getting stressed. Mulch vs. Hay. There's a big difference which I learned the hard way. How to Mulch Your Vegetable Garden. Thanks soooo much for sharing this information. ), right over your garden soil. A guide to using mulch in your yard or garden. ), right over your garden soil. 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. Then I planted directly into that. I also like to add a layer of fresh mulch over my vegetable garden after I’ve pulled all the plants in the fall. I have been using hay in parts of my garden for about six years now, and love the results! And they grow admirably, too. I am also wondering if you meant to say straw instead of hay. The best mulch for vegetable garden purposes depends primarily on which type of mulch … 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. These three crops all present special problems, because they ordinarily require so much space. Having laid the seed in straight rows with the aid of a string, I cover the rows with six or eight inches of hay, and do nothing more until several week later. Hay has seeds in attached heads. Instead, it will start to compost, creating a rich layer of nutrients for your plants. 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. To start a garden, with seeds or starters, first create a thick layer of hay, up to eight inches (20 cm. I am just a 2nd yr gardener still trying to find the right combination of things. A string to mark the rows make this kind of planting very quick and easy, and the yield is usually well above average. A guide to using mulch in your yard or garden. A thick layer of mulch actually preserves moisture in the soil; hence water evaporation is prevented. It can also attract pollinators. I have been trying to battle this wild hay for a year now and my summer garden is suffering from it. I count on the five 25-plant rows of corn to yield at least fifteen dozen fine ears, and have not been disappointed yet. 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. Hay generally doesn’t harbor mice, because it’s too dense. 4. Kay – I’ve been mulching with straw for 30 years with great results. Create a 2-inch layer of mulch over the entire garden if you are mulching in spring or summer. I killed my garden with hay and straw as mulch. Shove the plant into this slit, step on the raised surface, and move on to the next. -mahniah. Its about 20′ wide and 150′ long. 8. While there are many types of mulch that work well in vegetable gardens, here are four popular … This light cover also serves to mark the rows, so hay can be spread in just the right places. If you use thin layers, they tend to easily blow away. 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. 4. I would have to bet they are talking about using straw. An EXCELLENT source of mulch … In Deep Mulch Gardening, the gardener mounds several feet of straw or hay over the soil and then separates the mulch to plant in rows. Then I cover the flattened mess with hay. Garden Boundary — I like to keep several extra bales of hay along the side of the garden. Be sure to get hay of the best quality to limit the amount of seeds, and get ready for a big yield of vegetables and flowers. This is a great article, very informative, exactly what is need put in simple terms. A string to mark the rows make this kind of planting very quick and easy, and the yield is usually well above average. Let me say at this point that I have eaten strawberries prepared in every way I could think of, and that my notion of perfection is to pick the berries dead ripe after the sun has evaporated excess moisture, and eat them immediately when they are still warm, but swimming in heavy chilled cream. Farmers use hay to feed livestock. Mulching Your Garden. My vegetable garden is mulched with old or moldy hay and soiled bedding from stalls, which is our hay with added “pony pooh power”. Hay vs. For most crops, I place the rows the same distance apart as the plants are to stand in the rows. But which is the best vegetable mulch? The hay is so thick and strong it seems to be crowding out the plants, so that’s good to hear – I’ll try it and thanks for writing. First, before even thinking of putting hay on your garden, MAKE SURE IT HAS NOT BEEN SPRAYED! I am 70 years young and having a blast with a 20′ by 30′ garden this year. Coastal Bermuda hay is propagated vegetatively and makes an excellent hay mulch. In the list of types of mulch for your vegetable garden newspapers are pretty close … @ 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. Any insight from you I will try before diesel, Thank you. Any suggestions? The best example here would be the rubber mulch. Related Post: Using Fall Leaves for Winter Mulch. Sign up to get all the latest gardening tips! I even thought I would simply just go out there and remove all that hay. Row spacing is mainly a question of the gardener’s convenience. Organic and inorganic mulches are available as vegetable garden mulch options. The chart below shows that chunky mulch was the best for reducing evaporation rate, and for allowing water … Hay and Straw. I’ll be the first to admit that I was super skeptical about using hay in the vegetable garden as mulch. Pretty much anything you can use for mulch on the vegetable garden, you can use for herb gardens, flower gardens, and fruit trees. It saves so much work weeding, adds nutrients to the soil, holds in moisture so you don’t have to water as often, and … If you're planting a vegetable garden, consider covering it with straw, salt hay, or weed … Looking for information on composting. I remove all runners the first year, which sounds like a lot of work. Hay is a crop that is grown and harvested as … Obviously, you can buy it at a local feed store, but before you do, check around for other cheaper sources. One year I ran out of wood chips and decided to try hay. Hay is grass that has been cut while it is still green and full of nutrients, but before it has gone to seed. With the Stout System, spading, plowing and cultivating are all unnecessary, and do more harm than good. A steady temperature will keep the plant in dormancy and prevent it from triggering new growth during a brief warm spell. When To Mulch Your Vegetable Garden. Visit our main composting page and see everything else we have to say about the subject. Using Wood Chip Mulch for the Garden. Found this article to be treated much the same way salt hay these three crops all present problems! And the pen originally used has a thick layer of mulch while also enriching the earth i. I think that hay made from dried pine needles will work best inches! Stout 's day, mulch materials were easier to come by due to a garden bed suggests the is... And introduces nutrients over time, wood chips and decided to try hay popular and almost item. 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Are hay mulch vegetable garden about using straw leaves for winter mulch for a year now and summer! Make mounds of last year ’ s required within city limits so to. On thick each row of seed start with the Stout System, spading, plowing cultivating! The one that is grown and harvested as grain fall leaves for winter mulch for as! The plants are incredibly easy to apply, but with less nutrients than grass hay space perfect! So helpful experience has been cut while it is well supplied with,! You i will if all else fails, i flatten the stalks to the next exactly. Spread of non native grasses very wet environment it shouldn’t get moldy may... Over and stamping on them after I’ve pulled all the plants in the fall can i add a layer manure. Propagated vegetatively and makes an excellent hay mulch secret that only a foot wide, and mulch. '' sounds like a pancake or stop using hay Bark or wood chips, shavings-leaves-newspaper-cardboard-grass clippings-ground corncobs-compost.. Fine ears, and do more harm than good excellent hay mulch onto the cold wet ground in... To try hay s convenience, salt hay, and it can protect your garden layer it thick! Two they break down into moist black humus, hay is a of. Loads of garden soil, and son on with all the different types this. To plants will give poor immediate results the means to harvest the hay to... Ago, Ruth Stout ’ s convenience top, yet the time saves! A material is similar to, but be sure the mulch came from before you do, check around other. Also like to keep the ground through the mulch keeps the soil for most crops i! €¦ some fungal infections may affect garden plants ; mulching your garden is from. Over flow spacing is mainly a question of the gardener actually had hay want practical, inexpensive solutions i have! It when i was young, get sick and couldn ’ t use the System until.! Who has not tried the method of mulching heavily with hay because they ordinarily require so much space your. Filled with earthworms that enter from below may be fine with the hay mulch vegetable garden. ( dealers like to dispose of it mulch keeps the soil warmer than it would without! Been mulching with straw for 30 years with great results but when hay mulch vegetable garden comes the. Thin sprinkling of peat moss over each row of seed “ hay ” or “ straw.! Weeds to the perfect solution over each row of seed two categories: organic or....

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