Going to scream over straw grass

alicate(SW Michigan, zone 5)January 30, 2013

Hello. Last fall I decided to do the Ruth Stout method and so I layed a nice layer of straw over 1/2 of my garden. (Didn't get to the other half fortunately!) Now, my garden is covered in grass! I could just cry.

What should I do? Rake it up and burn it. Leave it there and cover with mulch (like Back to Eden) or just resign myself to pulling grass all season?

Right now in Michigan, there is no snow so I could get into the garden. I do have garlic and shallots planted, nothing else.

Thanks for any and all advice!

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You did not use straw. Straw is what is left over after you've harvested a grain like wheat. The grain is cut off by a machine, leaving the stalks in the field. The stalks are them harvested and baled. Straw should have little or no seed in it be definition. Hay is cut grass that's used for animal food. Han is the whole above-ground plant, seeds and all.

When the soil is workable, I would just get a rototiller and till in the weeds. If and when weeds come up, pull them by hand. Sometimes I think the Internet and access to all these different gardening methods is making things more difficult for a lot of people. You can have a great garden without using the fancy-schmancy method you saw on Youtube.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 11:30AM
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Lots of time, straw is full of seeds. Most likely wheat straw and you have wheat seedings. Wheat is annual grass, so tilling it in for green manure is an excellent option. Another option is to kill it with a herbicide and plant in the sod. Popular method with farmers. Same procedures will work even if you have rye or barley straw. Hay is a different matter as it may have broadleaf plants as well as grasses.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 11:40AM
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Just run it over with a roto-tiller to mulch it into the ground and throw a sheet of weed cloth over it.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 11:53AM
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Are you all listening? The OP says there is garlic in there, so no tilling. and no herbicide either. Your only way out is wood chips, 2-3 inches. They are heavy enough to suppress just-started grass blades, but garlic and shallots will push through. I have always used chips with garlic, with excellent results. Next time, if you have OM and it looks seedy, dig a trench and bury it.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 1:50PM
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I used un-threshed Barley bales, and all you have to do, really, is wait till it is tall and strong enough to simply grab a handful, pull it out and use it as a mulch.

I had the same result one year with poorly threshed wheat bales.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 1:54PM
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alicate(SW Michigan, zone 5)

Thanks all for the help! This is definitely straw and not the hay I feed to the goats. It must have been a really weedy batch and I won't get that again from the same person!

Glib, would you say to put in the wood chips now or closer to spring? (I wonder if I can get that here this time of year.) I am amazed garlic will come up through the chips. Should the shallots be okay as well? I would love to try the Back to Eden method anyhow.

Glad to hear all is totally not lost! Thanks!

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 2:42PM
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alicate(SW Michigan, zone 5)

And by the way, I know to put the wood chips over the soil and not "in" like I mistakenly wrote. I'm full of typos today.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 2:47PM
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gardenlen(s/e qld aust)

yep straw often has seed in it, but it is from the left over rain on the straw so won't be grass, more likely wheat?

all you need do is pull it and tuck it under for extra nutrient, the straw is a brown. we sue spoilt hay mulches grass hay or lucerne hey, never had seeds germinate from that, have used straw but too expensive here any growths we get like i said pull and tuck under, i let some grow one time they died off and they don't perpetuate.

also lay mulch at least 6"s thick, so go to cover the whole garden. our latest gardens are covered with slashed grass, not much of an issue with what pops up we simply pull it as above.

treat everything as an advantage.


    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 3:03PM
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I think it can be done anytime before the garlic and shallots push out (so now is best). I have noticed that if the grass blades are long enough they bend under the weight and die there. Call a tree company, and tell them you want a dump, you will pay gas.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 3:38PM
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alicate(SW Michigan, zone 5)

"Treat everything as an advantage." LOVE it. It sure looks like wheat now that I google it. Maybe I'll juice it! Ha!

Gib, I'll see what I can find tomorrow regarding chips. Thanks!

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 4:55PM
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You may not want to give up on Ruth Stout. She always used hay, not straw, and she said "Lucerne Hay" which I think may mean second cut hay (which has fewer weed seeds). I've been using her method for about 6 years, sometimes first cut and sometimes second cut hay, and it works great. Yes, I get weeds from the first cut hay, but a lot of them are flowers and I let them grow. If a bed gets away from me (too many weeds) I just till it one year and start over.

Yes! Juice it! That stuff is expensive, and you've got it growing all over your yard :)

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 8:37PM
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Lucerne = alfalfa

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 11:35PM
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If you have areas of the garden that don't have garlic or shallots, you might try the lasagna method. Cover with a layer of wet newspapers, top with alternating layers of green and brown. I top with composted horse manure. It all composts eventually.

There are different versions of the 'no till' method. This works great for me since we don't have a tiller and the existing sod is very thick (old farmland).

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 5:52AM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

Re hay: I've been mulching with hay for over 40 years. Hay is cut properly before it seeds out. By the time grasses have seeded, they make lousy hay for animals. You want old hay, spoiled hay or hay that has been rained on. But you don't want hay cut too late in the field. Only twice have I gotten bad hay, and it was obvious as I began to spread it, so I piled it up and let it rot. Got very hot and made good compost.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 6:50AM
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Thanks Rpr -- now I finally know what Lucerne hay is.

laceyvail -- wish my neighbors knew about the not letting it seed out! But I'm just happy to have consistant sources of hay, and I enjoy the flowers.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 11:00AM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

I was going to say exactly what laceyvail said (minus a few years, though my parents always used hay too, so maybe I could claim 40 years?).

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 11:01AM
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alicate(SW Michigan, zone 5)

Now it snowed heavily so I may have to wait. The lasagna technique might work on the area without the garlic and shallots. This is indeed all good information and I do not feel like screaming anymore. (Except to say: "Enough snow already! I want spring! I want to garden!")

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 3:29PM
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