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Stinky Straw for Soil Aeration?

 
Posts: 4
Location: Poultney, VT (Zone 5a)
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Hi, Everyone. I'm building a little soil for some raised beds (raised because bedrock's only a couple inches down!). I don't have perlite, nor grain hulls (the mills around like they used to be). But I found some straw I'd been pasteurizing anaerobically (so it's stinky); it's broken up by weedwhacker. Might THAT serve as an aeration component?

Thanks!
 
gardener
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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If you are fermenting straw anaerobically, you are not pasteurizing it you are promoting things like botulin and other not good bacteria which is why it is stinky.
To use that material in soil you will need to first dry it out and get air into it so the anaerobic bacteria go dormant.
Organic matter does help create pockets for air infiltration as well as water infiltration but usually the matter used for this has been aerobically decomposed (composted) then mixed or laid on the surface and allowed to be drawn into the soil by the miners (earth worms and bugs).

 
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Hi Brendan, I would go for practically any organic matter you can find around: (non-stinky) straw, leaves, grass, hay, weeds, avoiding things with seeds as much as possible. As chopped up as possible. Fresh if necessary, decomposed (better) or decomposing aerobically (It's always good on this forum to pay a lot of attention to Dr. RedHawk!!) Don't load it up too much with nitrogen by using for instance all grass clippings.

If you import organic material from someone else's property, make sure they don't use Roundup or similar herbicides, fungicides, etc. Those can really mess things up for you for a long time.  

You can also dig out the paths between the beds and shovel the soil into the beds themselves.

The more organic matter you put in the beds, the more they'll settle over time. If your beds have sides, you'll notice this a lot. You will need to do a huge top-up next year.

Make sure the soil in the beds ends up being firm enough to hold your plants upright!
 
Brendan O'Poultney
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Location: Poultney, VT (Zone 5a)
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Thank you so much for the important perspective, Doc RedHawk and Dave!

I skipped that straw and instead added aerobically decomposed leaf matter to my mix (and did find some perlite).

(I'd originally intended that straw as substrate for oyster mushrooms - and if submersion isn't technically pasteurization, it plays a parallel role in knocking back competition with mycelial spawn. So glad to know that that process undermines soil health!)

Grateful,
Brendan
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