The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Straw season

Straw kill mulchIf you're looking for large quantities of straw for a no-till garden (or to make a strawbale house), it's worth starting to think about straw season.  In the past, we've bought a truckload of straw at the feed store now and then for $5.78 per bale (factoring in tax), mostly because I assumed people didn't really grow grains around here and thus didn't have straw as a "waste" product.  But when we started thinking about trying to buy enough straw in one fell swoop so that we could mulch the garden for a full year even if it sets in to raining again and the driveway becomes impassable, I decided to check craigslist just in case.

Truckload of strawIt turns out that I lucked into the spring straw season --- three farmers within an hour and a half drive were selling rye and barley straw for anywhere from $2 to $4 per bale.  We chose the most expensive straw because it came from just down the road and the farmer was willing to deliver all 80 bales for free.  (Plus, he's the only one who called us back.)  Yes, the farmer had to unload his trailer at the end of the driveway and we had to ferry the bales the rest of the way home in four overflowing truckloads, but the delivery probably saved Mark about six hours of work and $142.

To be honest, I have to admit that the locally baled straw wasn't as tight and regular as the industrial strawbales --- not appropriate for building with.  But since we're just going to turn it into mulch in our garden, we're thrilled.  We're already thinking ahead for the next straw season, which our new farmer contact tells us comes in October.  Meanwhile, I just thought I'd alert those of you with gardens in need of mulch --- now's the time to buy straw while it's cheap!

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Noticed local farmers baling straw in my area this week.
Comment by Lisa Fri Jun 10 19:40:11 2011
I'm glad I finally figured out about straw season. :-)
Comment by anna Sat Jun 11 08:44:52 2011

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