Help!!! Using straw for weed control?

brwneyegrl46February 13, 2011

Hello. I've been growing veggie gardens in the Upstate NY area for a couple years now, and weeds are always a problem. I used weed control fabric a couple years ago and it didn't seem to make a difference. I want to try using straw to stop weeds this year, as I am pregnant, due in August, and weeding the garden won't be my first choice in activity. I'm growing tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, peas, sweet peppers, and green beans. With the seeds I would wait until they germinated and then put straw around the plants. Has anyone had any luck with this? How deep would I need to put the straw? Is there anything else I need to consider? Would I need to irrigate or would the straw keep in the moisture? If the straw isn't recommended I would take any other suggestions. Thanks so much!

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It works great. Try reading some of the stuff written by Ruth Stout. I think she recommends 8-10 inches, which will shrink to 2-4 inches.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2011 at 10:59AM
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Yes it works and holds moisture and breaks down to make better soil,But you will have some weed seeds in the straw or oat seeds.I try and find someone that just has horses that feeds alfalfa hay,If it get's wet and moldy they won't feed it because it will make the horse sick!It's beeter if you can locate a stack that is rain spoiled and quite rotten.When it dries out it crumbles and is easy to spread around the plants.I have used oat straw and it works just as well except for some leftover wild oat seed. I just look around while I commute from place to place and I have been able to keep it on hand for free.I live in a farming community so it is all around me,When someone get's lazy or the wind blow's the tarp covering the hay off during a storm I tend to reap the benifits.Lawn clippings work well also.If I knew how to place a picture of the mulch in my garden I would and then you could see how good it looks.I just did my onions and garlic and fava beans.I let the plants get some size to them and then weed the area and mulch it.I have also placed a 1" by 4" over the seeded row of say beans and spread this crumbled mulch over the area,Then pull the board off and wait for the beans to come up and get tall enough to weed this smaller area and then pull the mulch around the established plants,You can add more mulch anytime to keep the weeds shaded out.Good luck. Joe

    Bookmark   February 13, 2011 at 11:43AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Agree. Straw, unlike hay which has to be used differently, makes a great mulch and weed preventer as well as improving the soil. But it MUST be laid on thickly - 6" minimum and 8-10" is best. This is at planting time and another 3-4" is added at mid-season.


    Bookmark   February 13, 2011 at 12:03PM
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I've found layers of straw to be slippery when dry, I'd be careful about putting it in walkways where you might slip during your pregnancy or to just be careful with your footing if you do pile it thickly.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2011 at 1:19PM
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iam3killerbs(7 NC Sandhills)

An option, if you can make use of it at this season, is to use leaves instead.

I'm quite allergic to the pollens and molds found on straw and, even more so, on spoiled hay, but I do quite well with a thick layer of leaves -- ideally shredded through the lawn mower but sometimes just raked into place.

I like to put my leaves down in the fall so that the winter's moisture leaches the goodness into the garden soil, but if you have piles of leaves from last fall they'd do just as well moved onto the garden.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2011 at 3:39PM
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All I have is oak leaves. Would I be adding too much acidic content if I used them as mulch? Believe me when I say, I have enough for my 35' x 75' garden!

    Bookmark   February 13, 2011 at 8:02PM
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I prefer the oak leaves to straw.. When wet lays down better, no seed problem, and retains moisture better.. I think. If you soil is acid, maybe add some lime.. slow release lime.. I do not think it will add that much to the soil being on top this year.. turn it under in the fall, and add lime then.. cover with new leaves in fall if you like to protect from weeds too. A Farmer and a County Ag man both suggested oak leaves to me. Plus they are FREE.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2011 at 8:33PM
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If you have beds, newspaper can work quite well. I get unused end rolls for cheap from the newspaper company and spread 4-6 layers of 4ft wide paper from one end of the bed to the other, lay two 2x4s down the sides of the bed (I don't bother with the short ends) to anchor the paper and I'm good. I put the irrigation on top and cut holes through it for the plants. You may want to wet the paper some while laying it down to help keep it in place until you have the 2x4's on it. Also, when cutting the holes, I've found that works much easier if the paper is wet too - wet paper doesn't tear.

This approach obviously isn't good for between rows or beds, though some do claim success with shredded paper or much heavier layering.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2011 at 10:04AM
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iam3killerbs(7 NC Sandhills)

Yes, leaves can be acidic. But you can balance that out with lime and/or wood ashes.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2011 at 7:32PM
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