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using hay for mulch

 
Andrew Mateskon
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Hello, Everyone!

I have access to about 40 bales of hay (some sort of grass with clover), that my local Alpaca farmer cannot use because the clover is too much protein for her Alpaca, in addition to getting wet at some point, and beginning to rot.

I'm wondering what kinds of treatment I can do so that I can use this hay as a mulch without weed seeds. I'm not so concerned about the clover, but I definitely do not want grass growing in my beds.

I do not have chickens to kick open the bales and let them pick at the seeds. Are these 40 bales even worth the trouble?
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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I would take 40 bales of hay for mulch. I do have chickens but I would take it even if I didn't. I love free gifts of organic material.

ruth stout is an inspiration to me and she would say take it

Have you read about straw bale gardening? Simple and effective soil building.

 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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DEFINITELY a way to put it to use.

You can mulch other areas that you want grass or clover growing (thin spots on the lawn)

You can compost it first. It will be a lot of material for a compost pile.

You can bale garden.

Or use them as raised bed borders. Back when we tilled, we used to do raised beds by digging out the walkways and then filling them with hay or straw. They would hold the water and rot/compost by the end of the year so you could incorporate them as organic matter the next season.
 
Andrew Mateskon
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Thank you!

would this hay still be suitable as a mulch on a hugel bed? I am planning all kinds of things to grow in the bed. As I said, the grass I could do without. I don't feel like I have time to compost all this hay, especially since i'm worried of it catching fire in one big heap. best to throw it in with the wood in layers for a hugel bed, or suitable for mulching on top? I have cords and cords of old pine with no other use than hugel, and sandy sandy excessively drained soil.
 
Zach Muller
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Location: NE Oklahoma zone 7a
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If you mulch with hay it is essentially like planting grass or whatever has gone to seed in the hay. I know this from the time I purchased small square bales for a dollar a piece, not realizing what the difference between straw and hay were. After being a fine winter mulch everything started germinating. The prairie grass that came up was an excellent ground cover, but grew so aggressively that it out competed many of the regular garden plants, even with frequent trimming.
That being said I would definitely take the 40bales and use them to make borders, cold frames, wind break compost piles and whatever else's could find to do with them.
 
allen lumley
pollinator
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Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
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Andrew Mateskon : Moldy hay is no great bargain but lets see what it might be useful for ! Kept dry it can serve as insulation in or around pump house to keep
the pump and water from freezing. Stacked on the windward side of a door it can be a wind break , or make a small inner room or divide a mudroom making
the entrance less drafty, Dairy men often find that immediately after birth and the cleanup of afterbirth, young cloves can not yet sit up or get up on their legs
for a while with a little hay on the ground, propped up by hay bales on both sides the calf can be left in its mothers care while other chores get tended to !

Soon we will be digging cold frames and some of us will be able to pile rotting manure and hay into the bottom to make a hot box cold frame sided with hay
bales and covered with window frames !

While we should be doing less tilling generally, bare patches of ground irregardless for their resin of unproductiveness can use buried chopped organic matter
to enrich and sweeten sick sour soil ! Thick bundles can be used in the spring just like chop and drop, Finally as regular bedding it will aid in breaking down and
re-cycling the animals manure and will enrich any compost it is added to, I guess moldy hay, that is free from pesticides is worth trucking home after-all ! A.L.
 
M Winters
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Location: Zone 8B East Texas, USA
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You mentioned chickens - right? If this is something you are planning to add at some point and know where you plan to put them you could cover that area with a thick mulch of your hay (perhaps seeding a cover crop there first). As the hay breaks down and the cover crop (and hay) sprout and grow you will be creating a chicken nirvana to put them into. Might be worth getting some meat birds to run through there just to take advantage of this boutny. Thats how I prep paddocks for my birds about 6 weeks before moving them onto them. Its a great way to build soil and grow free chicken feed to boot.
 
allen lumley
pollinator
Posts: 4154
Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
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M. Winters : The problem becomes the solution ! Brilliant ! This is a great example of Permies principles, THANKS for Sharing ! Big AL !
 
2017 Permaculture Design Course at Wheaton Labs
http://richsoil.com/pdc
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