Old hay or New hay? for mulch.

bertman_gw(5B West Conn)August 21, 2012

I just weeded a section in the veg garden. Would like to throw down some hay to keep the weeds at bay. I have some hay thats a bit old 2-3 years old I used for a archery target.

I also have some newly acquired hay from this year. Which is the better product to cover and use for mulch covering?

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Definitely use the old hay that's been sitting out in the weather. The fresh hay (definitely if it's 1st cutting) will likely have viable grass/weed seeds in it. The moldy old stuff won't.

Also be sure that the hay doesn't contain any broad-leaf herbicides - again, the older stuff is probably safer in that respect (though some herbicides are persistent, essentially the inside of the bales have been "cooking" and I think 2-3 yrs is safe even if the field had been sprayed). But best to take a tomato plant, if you have one to sacrifice, and muclh it with that hay now, see if it starts shriveling. You can cover your bare earth with burlap or plastic while you're waiting for the test results.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 9:21AM
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gardenlen(s/e qld aust)

g'day bert,

in the end it won't really matter new or old, they will all break down the same and and same nutrients if they came from the same source.

dunno about any weed/grass growth from them well not that it would take over the garden? lay the stuff thick enough say 6 or 8"s, that will suppress nearly every thing, even volunteer growths.


Here is a link that might be useful: lens straw bale garden

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 3:32PM
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bertman_gw(5B West Conn)

Thanks! I had thought the same between both of these responses. So HMMMMM

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 2:11PM
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lonmower(zone8 Western Oregon)

Try to get some WHEAT STRAW. Big difference between hay and straw. The weed seeds will still be inside the hay bales even if it is old. You might be introducing weeds yet unknown into your garden(?) Wheat straw will only have random wheat seeds which are easily controlled and pulled

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 8:16PM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

I have used hay for mulch for close to 56 years. The key is getting hay cut at the proper time (no weed seeds). The hay I get is old or spoiled (rained on), but only once did I get hay full of weed seeds. I didn't use it.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2012 at 6:37AM
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First cutting hay will definitely have seeds. But if it's been sitting outside for 2 years it shouldn't be a problem.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2012 at 7:42AM
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