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where do I find organic straw

 
Adam Buchler
Posts: 70
Location: New Jersey
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I live in southern New Jersey and I am having trouble finding organic straw. I didn't realize that straw mulch was going to be such a problem for my chemical free garden until I went to a local farm to buy some bails of straw. Just after my truck was all loaded up I asked the farmer some question(I can't remember what the question was) and he happened to mention that they use round up to kill this grass and its seed and then they bail it and sell it as straw. Needless to say those bails did not end up in my garden. I asked the few local organic farms in the area but they "don't sell straw." Anyone have any suggestions?
 
John Elliott
pollinator
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May I suggest that you might be making a problem where one doesn't exist?

I know that Permies have the same relationship with Roundup that vampires do with garlic, but it doesn't need to be so. One of the saving graces of Roundup is that it does not persist long in the environment (not like, say organochlorine pesticides). The glyphosate molecule is not all that stable, and there are many pathways for it to break down, one of them being exposure to sunlight. If that load of straw was drying in a field, any glyphosate that was applied early in the growing season is probably gone from all the solar exposure.

If you get a good deal on a load of straw and are still suspicious that it might have glyphosate residues, just pile up the straw, inoculate it with fungi, and keep it watered. They will eat it for lunch and then you will have some nice mulch to work with. In fact, that's a good operating rule for all the biomass you import into your garden -- let the fungi in your garden have first crack at it before you start spreading it around. I never spread a load of wood chips as soon as it is delivered. You never know where it came from and where they have been spraying weed killers. I wait a couple months, and then, when I can dig in a few inches and see lots of white hyphae, I feel comfortable that it is ready to go to the garden.
 
C. Letellier
Posts: 223
Location: Greybull WY north central WY zone 4 bordering on 3
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The amount of organic straw you will find in most areas is minimal. Very few are growing it by percentage of the farmers and those who are mostly keep it for their own soil improvement. Beyond that your best bet is to grow your own.


The herbicide classes would agree with the above that sunlight breaks down roundup fairly quickly. Without testing you couldn't be sure but I would say test before and after. Another answer in the same vein. Can you find people who maintain lawns that are not using chemicals. You might be able to mow them for the grass clippings.
 
Angelika Maier
Posts: 782
Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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I read somewhere that roundup is pretty persistent in the soil, but I don't remember were. However I do not even try to search for organic straw.
We pay about $14 a bale for the non organic and the guy at the produce store would say it's organic, because it's straw. I would go for a round of composting too. I think there is no way to get any hay, straw or lucerne which is organic in a sufficient amount.
 
Adam Buchler
Posts: 70
Location: New Jersey
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John Elliott wrote:May I suggest that you might be making a problem where one doesn't exist?

I know that Permies have the same relationship with Roundup that vampires do with garlic, but it doesn't need to be so. One of the saving graces of Roundup is that it does not persist long in the environment (not like, say organochlorine pesticides). The glyphosate molecule is not all that stable, and there are many pathways for it to break down, one of them being exposure to sunlight. If that load of straw was drying in a field, any glyphosate that was applied early in the growing season is probably gone from all the solar exposure.

If you get a good deal on a load of straw and are still suspicious that it might have glyphosate residues, just pile up the straw, inoculate it with fungi, and keep it watered. They will eat it for lunch and then you will have some nice mulch to work with. In fact, that's a good operating rule for all the biomass you import into your garden -- let the fungi in your garden have first crack at it before you start spreading it around. I never spread a load of wood chips as soon as it is delivered. You never know where it came from and where they have been spraying weed killers. I wait a couple months, and then, when I can dig in a few inches and see lots of white hyphae, I feel comfortable that it is ready to go to the garden.


John right now the bails are sitting in a wooded area behind a friend's house down the street. They have been there a few months now. I guess I could innoculate with fungi now and then grab them in the early spring for mulch.....they cost me 42$. I'm assuming I can find fungi in those woods to innoculate the straw with. What is the best way to go about doing that....how do I know what type of fungi I'm looking for?
 
John Elliott
pollinator
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Adam Buchler wrote:

John right now the bails are sitting in a wooded area behind a friend's house down the street. They have been there a few months now. I guess I could innoculate with fungi now and then grab them in the early spring for mulch.....they cost me 42$. I'm assuming I can find fungi in those woods to innoculate the straw with. What is the best way to go about doing that....how do I know what type of fungi I'm looking for?


If they are sitting in a wooded area, they are probably already inoculated. Fungal spores are everywhere, that's why we get mold and mildew smells in the oddest of places.

First question I have is, are they wrapped with anything that keeps the rain and snow off? If not, if the rain and snow melt has penetrated to the center of the bale and it has started to rot, it's going to be really difficult to find any glyphosate in it.

Next question is what does it smell like? A nasty septic tank like odor indicates anaerobic activity going on, and while that will decompose glyphosate, you want to convert it to aerobic before you put it around any plants. This is just as easy as spreading it out so it can air out and the aerobes with gradually out-compete the anaerobes.

If it smells like a musty basement or a sack full of mushrooms, this is good, no further work required on your part.

If it smells like dried cut hay or grass, then decomposition has not gotten started yet and fungal inoculation is in order. Any mushrooms that you come across walking in the woods will work for this, you don't have to be picky. Just crumble them up on the bales, or you can whiz them up in a blender and drench the bales with mushroom gazpacho. In addition, you might want to loosen up the bales so they don't shed water. Tight bales that shed water are for feeding livestock. Loose bales that get waterlogged are lost as far as feed value, but they make for great mulch.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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I can't wrap my mind around why they would spray round up on the grass to kill it. Cutting it for straw will kill it, right? And chemicals cost money, right? Now I'm paranoid about the straw I've been getting. I know the farmer who grows it. I get it from him because he's very local, but he has not proven himself to be trustworthy especially when it comes to chemicals. Don't tell me I've been using roundup fungicide straw...

I talk about some of my experience with this farmer in this thread
 
Adam Buchler
Posts: 70
Location: New Jersey
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Matu Collins wrote:I can't wrap my mind around why they would spray round up on the grass to kill it. Cutting it for straw will kill it, right? And chemicals cost money, right? Now I'm paranoid about the straw I've been getting. I know the farmer who grows it. I get it from him because he's very local, but he has not proven himself to be trustworthy especially when it comes to chemicals. Don't tell me I've been using roundup fungicide straw...

I talk about some of my experience with this farmer in this thread


straw is grass that has already dropped its seed and lost most of its sugars....whereas hay is grass thats cut before it has dropped its seed. Straw is "brown" hay is "green". Apparently they spray roundup to kill the weeds/weed seeds in the field so your bail of "straw" doesn't have a bunch of weeds in it. I believe it kills the grass seed as well.
 
wayne stephen
steward
Posts: 1793
Location: Western Kentucky-Climate Unpredictable Zone 6b
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If round up was sprayed before planting wheat it was done weeks before seed was set in the ground . Wheat is grown usually at the tail end of a few corn , soybean cycles . It is planted at the end of the season early fall [ winter wheat ] after the harvest and is planted in the stubble of previous crop . Then it begins to grow , sets root , and flourishes in the spring into early summer . So if not Round UP Ready then it is 8-9 months at harvest since it came into contact with herbicides . Monsanto has introduced a Round Up Ready Wheat not in wide use yet . RUR corn is known to uptake Round Up into it's cellular structure and become persistent . I bet RUR wheat will also uptake the toxic gick . With the newer combines straw is not available anyway . All but the seed is chewed up and spewed back onto the field . Wheat straw is becoming less and less a commodity .
 
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