hey newbie: straw or hay

ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5October 4, 2011

so you say.. whats the difference..

well .. i will tell you ....

hay is animal food.. because it includes the grain or seeds ..

straw is what is left after they cut off the hay ... the second cutting as they may say .... and should include about 99% less weed seeds .. which food seeds are when they sprout in your garden ...

if you are planning on using such in your garden .. for winter protection.. or because you see it at the curb after halloween ... try to get STRAW ...

your seller will be surprised you know the difference.. lol ...

and if you find it at the curb.. and next season you have a bazillion weird weeds.. you will know why ...

been there.. done that.. do as i say .... not as i did ...

ken

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mosswitch

Where I grew up on the farm, straw was what was left over after the wheat or oat harvest, baled and used for bedding in the barn.

Hay was timothy or whatever green stuff we grew in the fields for the cows to eat.

Straw is commonly used for mulch, also for Halloween decorations, mazes, etc.

They sell hay in the big round bales for feeding the cattle. You see them in the fields covered up with plastic in long rows.

Hay and straw are two totally different things, second cutting or not, hay is hay, green, nitrogen; and straw is straw, yellow and carbon.

And you can still get wheat coming up in your garden if you use fresh straw as there are still seeds in it. If I get straw to decorate with for Halloween in the fall I always let it set over the winter and compost a bit before I use it as mulch in the garden in the spring. I never use hay, can't get it in small bales any more anyway.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2011 at 11:42AM
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goblugal(7)

Straw is also typically what is harvested after WHEAT has been cut. It is the hollow stem left after the heads have been cut, and really doesn't have any nutritional value for fodder. Used for annimal bedding or mulch. Hay (aka alfalfa) is harvested several times during the season, and contains the nutritious leaves of the plant. Typically MUCH more expensive than straw because it is grown as a food source.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2011 at 11:46AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Said well the first time, but repeating it 2 more times... really cements the info?

    Bookmark   October 4, 2011 at 11:51AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i still have nightmares about the weeds the year after i bought hay ... lol ...

why in the heck the seller was selling hay in suburban detroit was beyond me ... seller probably didnt know what he had bought in the first place ...

hey i got it.. they are STRAWberries.. not hayberries.. lol ... explains the use in terms we all can understand ... the straw is used to keep the fruit off the soil ...

ken

    Bookmark   October 4, 2011 at 1:05PM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

Good hay is cut before the grasses head out. I have used hay in my vegetable garden for over 40 years. Only once did I get seedy hay. The key is to get spoiled hay (rained on or old hay), not hay that has been cut too late. Hay that is full of seeds is of little value to animals, so most hay is not full of seeds.

Straw, not available locally, is prohibitively expensive for my vegetable gardens.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2011 at 6:33AM
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terrene(5b MA)

Hey Purple, some of the info was repeated, but I appreciate the difference in the details that were conveyed in each post!

Anyway I will use either, depending on which is free. Whether from the side of the curb, or from the town composting site. Partially rotted hay and straw bales are a real score for a compost whacko.

Look what I found at the town compost site this summer! I went back and collected bags of this rotted hay for 5 weekends, until it was mostly gone and the town machinery turned it over. Using the bags that people use for their grass clippings, etc. The attendant said it came from a town road project. It makes an most awesome mulch in the veggie garden, and annuals in back. No viable seeds left at all!

    Bookmark   October 5, 2011 at 9:35AM
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rusty_blackhaw(6a)

I'd be a little nervous about using hay/straw associated with a "town road project", or any sources where it might be contaminated with herbicides.

I've used straw/hay bales many times without a weed seed germination problem.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2011 at 11:23AM
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terrene(5b MA)

Yeah, Eric I was a little nervous about that because of that persistent herbicide that had contaminated a bunch of hay a few years back. Also, you never know what is draining off a roadway. So I first spread the mulch in a small area and watched the plants. No problem! Nothing died, it thrived. The rain we get around here probably washes most contaminants away.

The attendant told me the hay was from a local farm. I presumed it was probably spoiled, and so they sold to the town for their road projects.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2011 at 12:11PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

I've only used straw on top of grass seed I put down on bare soil. Works like gold everytime.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2011 at 1:39PM
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