Mulch questions

Jared77

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Since Ive expanded the garden I need a new means of mulching and hopefully slowing some weed growth. In the old garden I used sections of preen (the black weed block) and secured it with rocks. Garden was much smaller so it worked fine. When the garden would wind down, we'd just roll up the preen, stones in a bucket for next year, put our manure down, and wait till next spring to till it up and start again.

Now the garden's MUCH just over twice its original size. 55' x 45' so Im looking at alternative options. So mind you this is the first year that over 1/2 of the area will be used for veggies vs boring old lawn. My gardens been laid out on paper and I've left myself 3' between rows to get in and work between my plants and if I have to I can get a wagon or wheelbarrow down there if necessary.

So now with the garden being so much bigger I need an alternative mulch option I'm thinking of using straw. I live in a small rural area so I can get straw for 2.00 a bale. After reading up on it I know I could get enough newspaper from the family to spread it out a few layers thick then cover it with straw. The idea being in the fall to turn it all under, and in the spring turn it over again, and plant it.

I live in zone 5 (Michigan) with a lot of clay so I figured the straw would benefit drainage as its turned under at the end of the growing season and block a fair amount of weeds. I'm trying to find something that will be effective and could benefit next years planting.

Thoughts?
 

gettinaclue

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I think the newspaper and straw is a good idea.

This is the first year I have tried straw to keep the weeds down, but I hear good things about it.

I have it spread between my raised beds. In the fall I will till it under and do a bit of amending.

The idea for me is to get that area (a heavy red/orange clay) to the point where I can plant some white clover. It's a good bee food and will ultimately save me money...since straw here is 3.50 a bale.
 

chills

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i use straw in my beds with out newspaper and it works really well to keep the weeds down. i also use a drip system so i think that may be what helps the most. i have also used straw around my coldframe or on the paths and it doesnt seem to hold up very long for me, perhaps with cardboard or newspaper under i would get less weeds. straw is $7 a bale for us, and i have to find creative ways to use the whole thing. it suits me for mulch.
 

Greenthumb18

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I use straw too and it works great! I recommend using it to mulch plants. Plus it looks great in the garden! ;)
 

Mattemma

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I have used straw. Also in place of the newspaper I have used pizza boxes with wood chips over them. I got the wood one time free from a tree company.
 

RickF

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If I get a bale of 'hay' (that's my term) from a local AG place that sells it for feeding horses, do I need to ask for a particular type to ensure a weed-seed free experience or ?? I'd hate to buy one only to find it's sprouting weeds like crazy after a month.. Thx!
 

thistlebloom

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Ask for "straw" Rick. That's usually oat, wheat or barley. They bale the stalks after the grain heads have been harvested.
Regular hay that is used for livestock feed will have lots of seeds. Weed and otherwise.

You may get some stray grain growing from the straw but it's easy to pull.
 

RickF

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cool.. I'll check with a few places nearby that we get chicken supplies from.. Unfortunately we're in the 'big' city (LA) so not so many places offer bales of straw/hay..
 

catjac1975

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Jared77 said:
Since Ive expanded the garden I need a new means of mulching and hopefully slowing some weed growth. In the old garden I used sections of preen (the black weed block) and secured it with rocks. Garden was much smaller so it worked fine. When the garden would wind down, we'd just roll up the preen, stones in a bucket for next year, put our manure down, and wait till next spring to till it up and start again.

Now the garden's MUCH just over twice its original size. 55' x 45' so Im looking at alternative options. So mind you this is the first year that over 1/2 of the area will be used for veggies vs boring old lawn. My gardens been laid out on paper and I've left myself 3' between rows to get in and work between my plants and if I have to I can get a wagon or wheelbarrow down there if necessary.

So now with the garden being so much bigger I need an alternative mulch option I'm thinking of using straw. I live in a small rural area so I can get straw for 2.00 a bale. After reading up on it I know I could get enough newspaper from the family to spread it out a few layers thick then cover it with straw. The idea being in the fall to turn it all under, and in the spring turn it over again, and plant it.

I live in zone 5 (Michigan) with a lot of clay so I figured the straw would benefit drainage as its turned under at the end of the growing season and block a fair amount of weeds. I'm trying to find something that will be effective and could benefit next years planting.

Thoughts?
I used leaves for many years but, I think the squash bug hid in the leaves and became over populated. We use leaves but till them in for organic matter. My favorite mulch is grass clippings. I use them close to the plants and then use a Mantis small tiller between the rows to till down the weeds. We are close to the ocean and used to get seaweed but lost our source for that. We have a landscaper that delivers truckloads of leaves to us which we use to keep down weeds in daylily flower beds. Hay and straw are good but grass matts down more densely. We do not pay for any mulch. A big garden is hard to keep up with. By the end of the season my garden is far from weed free. It need not be perfect to produce a lot of food once the plants are big.
 

ducks4you

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Oat straw or wheat straw can also sprout oats or wheat. And, Rick, with the $ of hay, leave it for the horse people who are now even horse-poorer with the bad economy. (Hay is selling for $20/bale in TX, and really high in LA right now--not sure what$?) One horse goes through about 25 bales/hay/month--do the math.
I like grass clippings. Wait a day after you have mowed to allow it to dry and use clippings from other than grass that has gone to seed. Consider using newspaper, too. I have done that by using a paper shredder. At DH's office the newspaper stacks up, so it's just a good way to dispose of it.
 
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