Saturday, July 2, 2011

Hay mulch

You know you live in a rural area when you call up one of the neighboring farms inquiring after some mulch.  "Sure I will pop some over this afternoon, I am going past there anyway, and you don't want to get your car all dirty.  Pay me when you see me....."
At 5.50/bale this is pretty inexpensive mulch, and the public areas have been really needing some mulch.  I did sprinkle some slow release fertilizer around and watered it in well.  Those areas have been depleted for so long that I think they need a pick-me-up.  I don't use chemical fertilizers in my own garden so it will be interesting to see the difference.   I hope that with continual adding of mulch and natural amendments that I will be able to forgo the chemicals.

I like to use a variety of different mulches over time, and while this hay can look a bit untidy until it has broken down, it does add different nutrients to the soil, and does not pull nitrogen from the soil as it decomposes, the way the freshly fallen leaves do.  I always have lots of fallen leaves, and often go right through the garden mulching up as many as I can to put into the compost.   If the leaves are not broken down they can actually form a barrier that stops water penetrating down into the ground.  It is more work to mulch them up and then compost them, but ultimately better for the soil.

We are due to have some major tree trimming on the property and so the mulched up material will be placed in a heap with some seaweed and coffee grounds added to spur decomposition. After a couple of months we should have some good compost for the next layer of mulch. I have not done this type of mulch on the garden here before, but understand that it is better to cure it before placing it on the garden, and adding an accelerator and turning it will speed it up.

Later on in the year the council has a day where homeowners can collect free mulch from the landscaping dump. That often has a lot of coconut fibers and coir in it. Along with my own compost which I add in pockets wherever I feel it is needed, my garden is pretty well fed almost continuously.

That is what nutritionists recommend for us. A variety of different foods, in small quantities.


  1. I totally agree with you on feeding the garden with mulch and garden waste. But do you have weed problems? My own compost seems to encourage weeds rather than discourage them. (You need your compost to get really hot for days to kill the seeds and my pile is too small to achieve that.) And mulch does nothing to keep the weeds down. I tell myself it's worth a bunch of bent-back-weeding to get the good nutrients into the soil but it's a tricky game when waiting for seeds to sprout and trying to keep the weeds from overrunning them.

  2. This is such a timely post for me...I just finished cutting my hayfield and have a plentiful supply of hay mulch at my disposal, but this time it has not been baled. I'm not sure how it will work for mulch since it hasn't been compacted into a bale form and I'm also wondering what the weed situation will be like. For the last two springs I was able to use hay from my neighbor farmer and put it on really thick and had good success with few weeds sprouting up. The late Ruth Stout wrote a book about mulching with hay and her solution to weeding the garden was to simply 'add more hay mulch'. I hope my plan works, too!

  3. Must be the time of year. We're busy mulching at the moment too. The local produce store had bales of lucerne going cheap because it had got wet and started decomposing. No good for farmers, but just right for us.

  4. thelittleblackcowblogSun Jul 03, 08:38:00 AM

    Have just been enjoying reading lots of posts on your blog. I must say on a cold winter's morning in the valley, it is lovely to visit somewhere tropical for a change. I feel a little warmer because of it.
    We use hay mulch all the time on the farm garden and a few years down the track you can see the difference in our soil. It is like chocolate cake!!

  5. Very smart to rotate your mulch source. I use a lot of pine needles as that's what I have in my yard, but I like your idea of hay. I can get some from the feed store nearby.

  6. Laura,
    I dont put weeds into my compost, but find that I have little pawpaws, cherry tomatoes and passionfruit coming up all over. Sometimes I leave them alone, but other times I pull them up. My compost gets quite hot - I have a bin and every morning I get my early morning exercise turning it over. this is weed free hay and seems pretty good in that regard.
    that is nice to get so much "free", and it sounds as though you will have enough to smother any weeds that do try to make it through. I used a lot of this hay when I first set up my garden two years ago in the lasagne style.
    that sounds great if it has already started decomposing.
    I am glad I could warm you up a bit. We dont get much of a winter here at all. I love the analogy to chocolate cake, something only a gardner would enjoy!
    I remember lots of pine needles could make your soil a bit acid, so the layer of hay might just do the trick in blalancing it all out in the end.

  7. I wonder why in our place they do not bale the rice straws and sell them as extra income. Instead they are burned and the ashes are scatteded back to the farmland as they prepare for the next crop.

    Instead, rice husks are used as mulch, and we find it as good amendment to our clay soil.

    You are lucky that your community has a place where you can get free mulch.

  8. You always share such great information. In regard to allowing fallen leaves to remain, I have not found we have a problem but I think it might be due to our winter rainfall. It helps to decompose the leaves a lot faster.

  9. Solitude rising,
    that is interesting about the ash on the rice fields. Here they burn the "trash" which seems to me just like sugar cane mulch, it might add different nutrients. There is so much talk of biochar at the moment, and I wonder if that is where the original idea came from. If I see the remains of a fire on the beach I often bring back some of the ashes to add to the compost. It adds potassium, and can also sweeten the soil if it is acidic.
    Oh yes I imagine that that winter rainfall is very beneficial in breaking things down, and great that the plants are mostly in their dormant stage.


I love interacting with all my readers, thank you for your comments. Have a great day!


Blog Archive

About Me

My photo
e-mail me at