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Common household remedies request

I want to do some sheet mulching -- a layer of soil amendment, followed by compost, newspaper, and finally the straw (or hay) on the top. The sheet mulching will: (1) prevent by TMV-laden soil from splashing upward onto the plants when I water or when it rains; (2) eliminate the work of weeding; (3) increase the number of worms (no tilling; soil that's not compacted); and (4) save on water, since the layering, and especially the hay (or straw) capture moisture.

And now the question:

Hay or straw? As "Hay foot, straw foot" shows, people used to know the difference, but I sure don't. My local gardeners are vehemently in favor of one, but I forget which. Internet searches don't yield a clear winner. Everybody does agree on one thing: No seeds!

So, readers: Does anybody have experience with sheet mulching, and, if so, did you use hay or straw?

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Submitted by PA_Lady on

My mom is a long-time veggie-gardening fanatic, and always uses straw. There's a reason or several for not using hay, but I can't remember what they are.

ETA: I called Mom. She says either can be used, but hay usually has more seeds (meaning more weeds later) and straw doesn't break down as quickly so you don't have to replace it as often.

votermom's picture
Submitted by votermom on

But straw is the one without seeds. So straw is better.
Think Hay = Horses. That is, hay has the nutritious protein-rich seeds in it, so it is good feed.
The nice thing about sheet mulching is that old is better than new. So around fall, go tell your neighbors or stores, if they do straw bale decorations, that you can dispose of their old straw bales when they are done with them. That's how you get free straw!
Btw, wind will blow it around, so you need a solution for that. Using burlap over the straw, weighted down with rocks, worked for me.
Also, be prepared to see quite a bit of pill bugs & other critters who come in to break stuff down. When you do plant, make a no-slug zone around tender seedlings (there are various ways to do this.)
Also, be on the lookout for alfalfa (meal or pellets) to add as amendment -- some gardeners swear by alfalfa.

Isn't grubbing in the dirt fun?

Submitted by gob on

Do tell, please, please. I tried plastic containers with the bottoms cut off as little anti-slug fences around my seedlings, but they were rather ineffective.

Submitted by lambert on

... which were terrible here last year, because of the constant rain, I used some stuff from a can that looked like green acquarium gravel. IIRC, it wasn't chemical, but it irritated and/or burst their skin which, as we know from the behavior of banksters during FinReform, is very sensitive.

votermom's picture
Submitted by votermom on

reminds me of this from the schoolyard:

I left my wife with 49 kids
To a good old man with a peanut stand
Did I do right, right, right to the country
Where I came from hayfoot strawfoot
skip with a jingle left, left, left, right, left

Card-carrying_Buddhist's picture
Submitted by Card-carrying_B... on

Salt hay, but, hey, this is Cape Cod.

Only we didn't call it "sheet mulching;" we read a newspaper article on creating a garden through intensive layering.

Thus, that particular area is now known as "The Lasagna Garden."

(hoping there are lasagna-makers around)