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Back to Eden Gardening

Discussion in 'Everything Else Garden' started by Beekissed, Jan 29, 2015.

  1. Nov 29, 2017
    Beekissed

    Beekissed Garden Master

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    I'd never used round bales for much of anything before, so today I got my first lesson in rolling out round bales. It's hot, scratchy work and appears easy at first, but they don't all roll out neatly into nice neat mats. The first one did, which lulled me into thinking "This will be a piece of cake!".

    Wrong. o_O

    The first was first cut hay, been sitting around rotting for a couple of years I'd say. Came off that roll in a nice, neat mat like it was designed for this purpose...a nice 4-6 in thickness. Cool!

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    The second one I did was a partial, second cut hay bale...whoever baled that needs a new baler. It was all crinkled up inside and didn't roll at all and those longer strands of the timothy grass and such made it extremely hard to fork and spread evenly. The second bale, much larger and a full bale, same hay and baler...didn't roll worth a shuck. This hay was baled this year so it's got a lot of green in it still, which is going to bode well for the garden, but it also has a lot of timothy seed.

    Fourth bale, first cut and rotten like the first bale, rolled out more evenly than the newer, second cut hay, but had a really rotten side that made it roll out unevenly.

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    I should have worn long sleeves, but it's awfully hot here today(end of November...whoever heard of having to wear shorts and a Tshirt at this time of year???), so I'm itching and sneezing like crazy and blowing black mold out of my nose. :confused:

    BUT...I got it done in just a few hours, by myself and with plenty of breaks to eat lunch, get drinks and do this or that~while also applying bags of leaves prior to the roll out and putting hay and leaves in my apple rings. It would have taken me all day long and into the next day to shovel that many chips to the depth I'd need and to spread them all out.

    Leaves on in a thin layer before applying hay...

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    Hay and leaves layered into the apple rings...

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    Old Jake really loves the hay...

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    Still a lot of green left in this second cut hay...

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    The soil in the middle of the garden, right under where we drive the truck in, so it's pretty compacted compared to other sections. This is what the wood chips have done...this was scraped up with just a blunt nose wire cutter, so very easy to move, crumble, plant into. NOT our typical soil, which is a greyish hard pan clay that you'd need a backhoe to scratch up.

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    I still need to go out there and do a final tuck and fluff of the more uneven applications into thinner areas but at least the entire surface of the garden is now covered at a 4-12in. depth. :woot




    Here's an interesting little vid of what the soil looks like under hay that had been sitting on it for a few months...

     
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  2. Nov 30, 2017
    bobm

    bobm Garden Addicted

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    Grass hay will have grass as well weed seeds but it will depend on the mix of grasses as to what type will actually be ripe or not at cutting and baleing. The Wheat, Barley, and Oats are cut at their dough stage (immatiure. so will not sprout ) before baleing, however there may be some seeds that may be mature and will sprout. Barley is often cut and disced under as green manure. Barley and Oats have a softer stem than the Wheat, so the first two would decompose faster.
     
  3. Dec 6, 2017
    Beekissed

    Beekissed Garden Master

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    Miss Mary, I found this vid tonight and thought of you.....just look at that soil!

     
  4. Dec 6, 2017
    ninnymary

    ninnymary Garden Master

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    Thanks for posting that video showing rice straw. I use rice straw for my nest box and a bale will last me several years. My 3 hens keep it very clean so I don't have to put in new straw very often. I like that it's softer than other stuff. But I'm concerned with a comment Bob made which is that it breaks down slower and is one of the reasons it's used to add to make bricks. What's your opinion on that? I already have it on hand so I'd like to use it maybe next summer. I'm really liking the idea that it seems to be better than wood chips.

    I just remembered that I did use it several years ago. I remember that after a season I added it to my compost bin. I think I did this because I wanted to add either chips or horse manure and it hadn't broken down much. But then again, the one time I used leaves on top of my beds those weren't breaking down either. They were being blown by the wind so I finally removed them also and put in the compost. Perhaps I wasn't patient enough. :\

    Mary
     
  5. Dec 6, 2017
    Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Garden Master

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    If you want leaves, straw, whatever to break down faster mix it in with the soil instead of just leaving it on top. Doesn't blow around that much either. I don't have a problem with my wheat straw blowing around but leaves can, especially before they pack down.

    If I leave straw on top of the ground over winter it keeps weeds and grass from sprouting, that can happen here even in winter and before I'm ready to plant in the spring. To plant I rake anything left to the side and use it as mulch on top of newspaper for those early cool weather crops. That makes it easier to get that area ready for planting. And it's pretty much broken down by the time my cool weather crops are done.

    When I empty the wood shavings out of the chicken coop in the fall and spread that in the garden I till it in to help it break down by planting time.
     
  6. Dec 6, 2017
    Beekissed

    Beekissed Garden Master

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    I guess it depends on what you are trying to accomplish, Miss Mary. If you want to use it for weed suppression and moisture control, then eventually having it rot into another layer of good topsoil, the rice straw sounds perfect...the longer it takes to compost, the less often you'll have to replenish it.

    If you are looking for a quicker build up of compost/top soil on your garden, then a quicker composting material may be it for you.

    For me, I want both...I want it to continue to add good soil to my garden, while also allowing me to retain moisture and have good weed suppression. Even the wood chips composted too quickly for my needs on that, so switching to hay will help me keep that area covered cheaply and easily, while still adding to my top soil in a quick manner.

    Maybe layering in leaves and then the rice straw will net some good composting of the leaves underneath the straw? And make it deep enough that it holds in enough moisture to accomplish that? Some folks add something like blood meal or soy meal to speed composting, which might be an option for you as you don't have much space to cover.
     
  7. Dec 6, 2017
    ninnymary

    ninnymary Garden Master

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    I want it to do both things too just like you. My chips took about 3 years to breakdown. I reapplied them this year. Maybe I’ll check out the feel and texture of barley or oats which is what bob recommends. If it’s soft enough for the nest box I may switch to that. Oh never mind, I still have too much rice straw to get something else. I guess I’ll use what I have. My soil looks good with worms in it since I’ve been using compost and horse manure and chips for years now.

    Mary
     
  8. Dec 6, 2017
    bobm

    bobm Garden Addicted

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    Mary, you can buy a bale of wheat +oats + barley hay for horses / cattle at a feed store. They are all planted at the same time in the same field and harvested at the soft dough stage , so little chance of sprouting. Add your rice straw on top and you can have your cake and eat it too. Win, win !
     
  9. Dec 6, 2017
    thistlebloom

    thistlebloom Garden Master

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    I feed Luke barley hay (a.m., alfalfa p.m. )
    and it must have been cut when some of the heads were more mature because the manure and corral rakings I deposited in the garden have little green sprouts all over. Like a green crew cut, haha.
     
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  10. Dec 6, 2017
    ninnymary

    ninnymary Garden Master

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    Thanks Bob but I'm trying to use what I have. I really only have 3 tiny beds of veggies (4x4) that would need it. I figured the rest of the garden is fine with the chips that are on it.

    I go to the feedstore in Petaluma. It's fun just seeing how many different types of hay/bales they have. I also don't have anyplace to store the excess.

    Mary
     
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