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Hay...gelkultur?

 
Matthew McCoul
Posts: 68
Location: Southeast Michigan
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I find myself in a situation where I have infinite hay, limited only by how fast I can scythe it.

I have some of the nastiest, tough, literally blue clay soil imaginable.

I was thinking about doing something akin to hugelkultur, but with the hay. Pile it on thick, cover in dirt, and cover in mulch 1uring the fall. Plant in spring.

Has anyone done something like this?
 
R Scott
Posts: 3304
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Yeah, but I called it lasagna beds. Done it with old hay bales, too. If you time the cutting right (past prime as hay), there is enough brown in the mix to work as is. If not, you really need to find a little extra brown to mix in. I use sawdust because I have a source, but chips or straw or last year's leaves or...
 
Jack Edmondson
Posts: 233
Location: Central Texas zone 8a, 800 chill hours 28 blessed inches of rain
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Matthew,

Yes it will work. Raised beds with nothing but composted grass clippings does work. I have seen it done very successfully on top of Gulf Coast 'gumbo' clay. If the hay is fresh you are going to have a lot of heat, though; and lose a lot of volume.

I would recommend if you have that much hay, carbonizing as much as you can and adding it to your clay. (biochar through pyrolysis, if you are not familiar with the term.) It will take some time to work into the soil; but it will start to improve the rest of your land.
 
Dawn Hoff
Posts: 368
Location: AndalucĂ­a, Spain
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If you use fresh hay - peeing on it and adding compost tea will be enough to start get the compost process going real well.

Try to look up lasagna bed and straw bale garden
 
Matthew McCoul
Posts: 68
Location: Southeast Michigan
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The hay is as fresh as I am fast. I scythe it, I put it on the gardens.

Compost tea is a good idea.

The piles can be as hot as they like. I'll be building in the fall and letting them stew all winter, and michigan winters are a bear. We were below -20f for some time last winter.
 
George Meljon
Posts: 278
Location: Southern Indiana zone 5b
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I have some hay bales that have sat for a year outside. Some of them are growing grass right off the top as they sit there, so things will grow on them. They did heat up tremendously last year in the first few months and ultimately got very unpleasantly moldy, which bothered my lungs. That said, in December I put logs inside a stack of them and as of now the unstrapped bales are melding and decomposing around the wood. I stuck an oak seedling in one of the bales but I haven't checked on it. It's my impression that things are moving in the right direction, but I can't tell you how much success you would have if you are doing anything similar to me.
 
Dave Dahlsrud
Posts: 446
Location: North-Central Idaho
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I used hay as a sort of core for a herb spiral/hugel conglomeration I made. I put a 50/50 blend of top soil and compost about six inches deep and planted into that. It worked great last year, this spring things are looking good, but it is shrinking down quite a bit. You will probably get a little season extension even after letting it cook all winter. It should be a really nice pile of soil by next season!
 
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