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

Sprouting straw

Sprouting mulch

Mark and I were thrilled to get our summer purchase of straw last month...until it started to sprout.  That's right, I laid down several bales of straw in the vegetable garden as mulch, figuring the straw would do its usual weed-suppressing job, but the mulch turned out to be a source of weeds.  Looking more closely, I saw that the grain heads were full of seeds --- seems like our supplier forgot to thresh before he baled.

Mark's immediate answer was: "Let's buy a flame weeder!"  But I decided to try a low-tech solution first.  As I've been weeding this week, I've grabbed hunks of seedling-filled straw and flipped it over as a unit.  I'm hopeful that the baby grain plants will be smothered by this cruel treatment and will give up the ghost.

In the meantime, I'm setting aside the rest of these bales of straw to use as deep bedding in the coop, where our chickens will be glad to remove the grains.  Looks like we'll have to hit up the feed store for some replacement straw for the garden.

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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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I have found the same issues with straw here in Northern part of Kentucky. I have put my excess under a tarp to keep out of the rain and hope that the heat may kill the seeds. Think that will work?
Comment by James Thu Jul 31 11:55:56 2014

I feel your pain. The same thing happens to us all the time. It's impossible to predict which source of straw is going to be good this year or not. After getting over the initial irritation, I've discovered that those sprouts are easy to remove whenever I get around to it. I'm not big into bending a weeding little things anymore, so I wait until they're bigger. Some of them die in the heat anyway.

BTW - Just bought the Whizbang garden idea book and love it! Thanks for the recommendation.

Comment by Robin Thu Jul 31 12:21:59 2014

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