I bought a couple bales of hay from a local farmer thinking to put a top layer on my garden for weed control and to hold moisture in. I noticed last evening that there are lots of the heads of the grain in the bale. If I use this, will I be essentially sowing hay in my garden? Should I use something else, and if so, any recommendations for use of the 2 bales I purchased?
Hardiness Zone: 8a
By mom4boyz from Midlothian, TX
I've recently used 2 bales of straw as a layer in a lasagna garden, & seeding took place. So I had to re-layer more newspaper on top. I was trying to rid the garden of grasses, so the straw was a bad idea.
Any hay and that includes grasses you can not see seeds will germinate. Around Midlothion the hay could be coastal and you will not see seeds, but you will get a lot's of grass. The seeds you see are probably wild grass or weeds. Best to use straw which have few or no seeds. We feed hay in the bad spots in the pasture. The next year we have grass growing there. If someone around you have chicken you maybe could sell the bales to them for nest, or to someone who has cows.
Go ahead and use the hay or straw whichever it is. It will loosen your soil, can be tilled in in the fall or spring and any "weeds" that come up as a result of your choice are easily pulled. The "weeds" that do grow will actually add beneficial nutrients to your soil as well. Happy gardening!
In my experience, hay does have seed heads, but there would be much less if you used straw, which is a leftover from removing the useful seed heads from a grain crop. Hay is the nourishing crop grown for additional feed for cows, horses, etc. Hope this is some help. Yes, other things can be used, like pine straw, which would not have any seed. The hay would spread seed almost anywhere it was used, so just keep that in mind, and use it where that wouldn't matter so much.
If you see seed heads, you probably have straw, not hay, unless it looks like a mixture of grasses. I've used straw in my garden a lot and it's worked very well. Even if the some of the grains germinate, they pull out easily.
By kathleen williams06/18/2009
You can use the hay to put around fruit trees or something else you have but I suggest not to use it in a garden, as you said you may be sowing something you don't want in the garden. Pine straw is o k for mulch or saw dust, I don't use a mulch in my raised garden. I only use composted manure,search for "raised bed gardens"on this site, maybe that will help you, good luck.
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