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nonorganic straw, oops!  RSS feed

 
Wendy Seiferheld
Posts: 3
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Hello, this is my first post. I feel like a complete idiot. I was all gung ho to try sheet mulching this spring and stupidly didn't even think about the source of my straw. For some reason it only hit me a few days ago- I have now infused part of my garden with a ton of straw grown who knows how! I had so much that I've also put a ton of it into my compost. My gut feeling is that even if the straw has some bad elements from pesticides on the straw, the amount taken up into the plants I'm growing will be minimal. Of course I tell myself this to make myself feel better. Any thoughts? Thanks, and please redirect me if I should have found this information elsewhere (I tried searching), or posted elsewhere...
 
wayne stephen
steward
Posts: 1793
Location: Western Kentucky-Climate Unpredictable Zone 6b
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That is why alot of folks can not use the word organic . We have to buy feed and import biomass into the system and can not always assure where it came from.
 
Kari Gunnlaugsson
pollinator
Posts: 308
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I wouldn't lose sleep over it If you are establishing a garden and growing your own food you are already taking huge steps in the right direction for your health and the environment. If it's cereal straw it almost certainly doesn't have pesticide on it (at least where I live).... there may be some trace herbicide residues although much of that will have already leached onto the grower's fields and water. I don't think there will be much bioaccumulation in the food..it will certainly be better and more nutritious than what you might buy at a grocery store or restaurant. In the future you'll have to decide whether to try and find an organic source or produce your own, or compromise with a conventional source.

 
Wendy Seiferheld
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Thanks for the responses!!
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
pollinator
Posts: 1422
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
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I'm going to be the 'downer' here.

A few days ago I put in a strawbox for potatoes. In my haste to get this project done I broke one of my cardinal rules for my little farmlet: no stuff brought in from the outside. Obviously we do have some outside input but by that I mean no mulch, no fertilizer, no manure from animals other than my own etc.

I bought a bale of wheat straw from the local feed store and assembled the box. The potatoes that I put in there had good sprouts on them. They don't look so good right about now.

The potatoes from the same batch that I put into an established bed are already up. Since I have done something similar to this many times using hay and rice hulls (20+ years ago) and had great results, I can only wonder if it is the herbicides on the straw that are slowing down the potatoes.

Too late now though - I've already assembled the box and I'm not undoing it. So I'll just wait it out and see what happens - it is not taking up much space or anymore of my time at the moment.
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Of course it's ideal to only use unsprayed anything, but I'd take straw grown with artificial chemicals, than no carbon at all...
As far as I know, there's a couple of systemic herbicides that will have long-term, devastating effects.
Here's a nasty one: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clopyralid
Generally, the harmful chemicals in others will be reasonably quickly biodegraded by bacteria. I'm not saying "use it all the time, everywhere, it's fine", but I'd like to reassure you that it's unlikely to be an issue.
 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Organic straw is hard to get in most places. Most people who are certified organic will be incorporating their straw into their own ground, rather than selling it.

In the future, if you continue to get 'generic' straw, and are worried about its content, compost it. The time and heat of composting should break down most of the nasties that may be in/on it.

Do some research on which 'cides' will/will not break down easily. Make a list of those you won't mind, and those you will NOT use. In the future, try to buy straw from local farms, and ASK what they are using, and when they last used it on your purchase. With that approach, you can be a lot more selective. Buying at the feed/seed store is a lot like getting a 'Quick-Pick' at the lottery. Many such stores are buying their stock locally (to save a lot on shipping). If they are buying locally, you can trace its origin, and find out for yourself what is in/on it.

 
Alex Ames
Posts: 406
Location: Georgia
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I am in position to mulch everything with pine straw. I get plenty every year. The logical
reason not to use it is that it is too acidic. My latest understanding is that when it breaks down it is no
more acidic than other choices for mulch. I have been using wheat straw on my beds from
Home Depot or Lowes. It would seem to me that everybody they sell to is using it in an
agricultural setting so they invite big problems if the straw kills everything people put it around.

Nevertheless, all this chatter has encouraged me to move on to the next level of using what I have and can control
rather than bringing in outside elements.
 
Walter Jeffries
Posts: 1091
Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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It is done.
The straw may well be organic or close enough.
We're organic, just not Big 'O' certified Organic.
In fact, we're better than 'Organic'.
Don't worry. Be permaculturally happy.
 
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