Do you use straw to protect over winter?

kentstar(5b, NE Ohio)November 16, 2009

I've read horror stories about straw, and I'm not sure if I should remove the straw that I have put down in a couple of beds now! Ugh! First I put shredded oak leaves then the straw. Will it sprout weeds? Should I remove the straw? Can I just put down more leaves to smother the maybe germinating weeds from the straw?

Do any of you protect or mulch with straw? What has been your experience with straw? I mean the kind you get in a bale at Halloween from your friendly neighborhood grocery store.

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

did you buy hay or straw????

one is food.. and has the grain ...

one is the shaft.. and should have much less or no seed ...

if you grabbed it off the curb.. then you may not know what you have ...

it can.. attract vermin if it has a lot of seed ... if that is an issue for you ...

otherwise.. i used to use it .. inside burlap to protect foo foo plants ... i dont really recall any more weeds sprouting... than anywhere else ... and the few that did.. came out real easy due to the leaf mulch [like you did]] and the straw ...

then i moved and left all the foo foo plants.. and have such a large garden.. they are free range ... and i didnt replace all the plants that needed foo foo winter protection .... one could say i work smarter now ... not harder.. lol...

ya know kent ... they are plants.. and if zone appropriate... should need absolutely nothing to make it through winter .... THEY ARE NOT CHILDREN.. that need to be tucked in, and protected all winter ...

not that what you are doing isnt a benefit in mulching the SOIL .... but the plants really shouldnt need all that LOVE ...

i sure wouldnt waste my time going out to remove it all

good luck


    Bookmark   November 16, 2009 at 11:18AM
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kentstar(5b, NE Ohio)

Thanks Ken! I actually got it at work! I work at Giant Eagle which is the local grocer like Krogers, or Acme. They had bales and bales of it to prop up their pumpkins. I asked the boss lady if they sold the bales, and she said "Go ahead and take what you want!" for nothing! I took two bales home with me. Now, I have about 1 1/2 bales left I will let sit over winter, but about 1/2 a bales in some of the beds. I'll just leave them alone then. Too much work for me anyways lol.
I believe it is straw and not hay. I actually was going to use some of it to protect a hydrangea I planted this year, a F&E series Blue Heaven, and to protect a hybrid tea in the yard. The rest of the beds have shredded oak leaves and pine straw mulch only.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2009 at 11:33AM
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mxk3(Zone 6 SE MI)

I use straw bales to barricade my potted perennials that are left outside for winter against the house. Come spring, I re-locate the bales to the vegetable garden for use the following winter. Usually get two winters of barricading out of a bale before the ties disintegrate and the bale starts falling apart. I then spread it down on my vegetable garden as a summer mulch. Works great and is inexpensive. I've also used it to protect Japanese maples over winter before they've fully established themselves. Works great as "stuffing" inside a chicken wire/burlap screen.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2009 at 2:52PM
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kentstar(5b, NE Ohio)

Great! I'm going to be mixing the straw with the oak leaves and stuffing them into my caged hydrangea and rose bush. I may incorporate some pine needles into the mix too somehow.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2009 at 9:28PM
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I don't know how cold you get there or how much snow cover either--- but where I live it can & does get down into the -20c to -30c and lots of snow most years.
I do use straw (10-12 bales) I open them up and cover the plants with a foot at least of straw . We weedwack the plants down first except the grasses and shrubs to remove all debris. I let some plants lay their seeds down also
I wait until the ground is frozen so the plant roots won't heave up and down with temp. in late fall early winter as this often is the cause of plants being lost eg. heurcheras.In the spring I slowly remove the straw to aclimatize the plants( the spring sun will kill the new light green growth & may cause you to loose the plant also).
In the spring we remove the straw (when it's dried out )& put some into the compost, mulch some in around plants and use the rest to cover the walkways in the veggie garden. It makes working in the garden easier & cleaner. At the end of the growing season we rototil what's on the walkways into the veggie garden and start all over .
This has worked for us for years- a bit of work but I've never lost a plant or shrub and I often grow z4-5 with success
A bit long but hope this helps some- never have had rodent problems either. Lois

    Bookmark   November 20, 2009 at 3:24PM
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