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Strawbale Mulch - why not to use or how to test

 
Margie Nieuwkerk
Posts: 51
Location: Bulgaria, Zone 7/8
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The Grow Network has a good article about why NOT to use straw as mulch.   http://thegrownetwork.com/hidden-dangers-straw-bale-gardening/

I read the article and initially thought that this was a bit alarmist.

Then I reviewed the success (or lack thereof) of the areas where I'd used straw in the past two years.

I ordered a bunch of bales this fall, in my barn now, just for the purpose of mulching.

Long story short, I decided to test bean germination.  One plate of beans with water, one plate with straw tea (straw soaked in water for a few days)

Here are the enlightening results:

the plain water beans - 28 germinated out of 39 beans
the wheat tea beans germinated 4 out of 34

The 4 wheat tea bean sprouts are very small and stunted one of them 1/2 cm, the others less than 1/4 cm, the plain water ones look normal, most about 1/4 cm to a cm

I am going to recommend others do the same if they plan to use straw as mulch.  This also means that the straw from my chicken coop and rabbit pen can't be used as I had initially planned. 

 
Jazzy Paulson
Posts: 7
Location: So Cal, zone 9b, 8500 sq ft urban lot
food preservation forest garden hugelkultur
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Margie, I think you are so correct! I was using straw as mulch and I had a lot of problems germinating seeds.  I was also using straw and hay in sheet mulching.  Then I read this: http://tendingmygarden.com/garden-mulch-straw-does-it-have-to-be-organic-to-be-safe/

Get this, I called the feed store where I bought the straw and hay, and they said it may have pesticides in it.  They said the hay is eaten by animals and no one has ever complained.  Then I called another local feed store, and they said, yep, the straw probably does have pesticides.

I'm going to rip it all out.
 
Maybe he went home and went to bed. And took this tiny ad with him:
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