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Manured hay on garden beds

 
                
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We are starting garden beds for the first time on our new farm in WA state.  I am doing both traditional tilled garden beds and hugelkultur beds.  My question is this - I have LOTS of manured hay, at various ages as it has been collected over the winter.  My plan is to till some of the manured hay into the beds and then use more to cover the seeds once I broadcast them.  On the hugelkultur beds I will cover the wood with it and then cover the top with either compost or soil.  Anyway, is there any harm in my using manured hay that is not fully composted?

Thanks-

Amy
Autumn Creek Ranch
 
Tyler Ludens
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I put fresh sheep manure and hay on my beds, cover with a couple inches of soil and plant,  No serious problems except legumes don't seem very happy (too much nitrogen?). 
 
George Lee
Posts: 539
Location: Athens, GA/Sunset, SC
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Nah,you're fine. In fact, if you're doing a lasagua type configuration, hay/dried grass is a pretty essential element. It helps keep air pockets under the soil,and is a carbon product as it decomposes. Top it with green grass clippings over and under.

Peace -
 
Andreas Brevitz
Posts: 38
Location: Sweden, Stockholm
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Did I understand right if you planned on mulching with it on top of the seeds? If so that is the only problem I see. Most seeds need some light to germinate, so it's usually best mulching around the plants when they start showing up.
 
                
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I was mulching with it on top of the seeds, but its about a 2 inch cover I think, I was trying to keep the soil from being exposed.  So, based on the responses, I am thinking a light covering when I plant to let sunlight through and then more as the plants come up, except in the case of legumes which may overfeed them. 

Our manured alfalfa/grass hay is very diversified - cow, sheep, goat, chicken and some pig - I hope it helps grow great plants...

Thanks for the help-

Amy
 
                    
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I was doing this but read recently (maybe in Gaia's Garden?) that one should use straw and not hay. Hay contains seed heads (dont think i have it backwards). If you dont mine timothy springing up in your tomatoes maybe its fine?

I am curious as to others opinions on this.
 
Salkeela Bee
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Just flip the hay over if any grass seeds germinate.  Even here in wet Ireland this works.  The grass seedlings are short rooted and once flipped the roots are exposed and the leaves get no light....

The decomposing hay adds fantastic structure to the ground over the years too.....
 
                    
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hm i guess this is feasible. however i often flip grass over and it often lives (larger grass, for at least a short period.) plus isn't that a lot of work? i guess i will do it this way because i have hay for my rabbit and i dont really want to have to hot compost. the only real thing in my unweeded yard that i am weeding throughout all of my plantings is grass. so i guess to me it seems a little questionable to throw grass seed out in the yard as a mulch
 
Ken Peavey
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I've read studies which concluded that manure sprayed and left exposed can lose half the nitrogen in a day.  If the manure is immediately tilled into the soil, that nitrogen is preserved.  Adding cow manure to crops is problematic in that the nitrogen content is high enough to damage plants.  Seems to me that if it is mixed with hay, there would be sufficient carbon material to absorb the nitrogen, but heating may be an issue.  While this may help with the seed issue, I think there may not be enough heating from a thin layer of material to damage plants.

 
R. Peacock
Posts: 35
Location: eastern part of West Tennessee
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If the hay and manure are from your own healthy animals and fields this pratice, often called sheet composting, is good, but if the hay could have a lot of weed seeds or if the animals could have internal parisites (liver flukes, etc.) then it is much safer to pile compost it.  The heat from the pile should kill most of the weed seeds and parisites and make it much safer to use. 

Forgive my spelling, this is my first post here and I could not find the spell check.
 
Mary James
Posts: 145
Location: NW MT Zones 4/5 Rollins Mt
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Perhaps a few thoughts for you to consider..
Hay is a hot green material.Manures not aged over a year pending on the animal source can also fall into the hot category.chicken, sheep, rabbit, horse are all warmer manures..Goats if they are dairy producers a bit cooler then if they are not producing milk or babies.Cows the same dairy cow or growing calves are less hot then  animals like steers for meat production.But still a cooler pile of manure..Pigs are a cooler manure as well.
  Alfalfa hay is a hotter hay then say a timothy grass, one would feed their horses.Alfalfa is a great garden additive  but usually not unless it has been composted or is in a powdered form such as alfalfa meal or such.. Because in the hay state it is hot when it breaks down but also a higher nitrogen then baby plants care to be surrounded by,, even in a cooler climate like mine..LOL,I once tried it to boost the heat for my babies trying to get a push on the garden season,, Notice it says once,, LOL
  Hay also is very weedy, meaning it comes with not only some weed seeds but also the type of plants that it is cut from which people often consider weedy when they take over the beds.Worse yet if you happen to be certified weed free, it is most likely been hit with a nasty chemical which you may not wish to have doing a break down in your gardens.If residues are present from this it can also deter the development of your crops.
  I rarely use hay products with in my gardens, unless I am needing a hot green for the compost.Straw has always been  my preferred mulch as well as gardening medium these days.
  My suggestion would be to pile this all up and make a hot compost pile through the summer.. The heat generated should be enough to kill weed seeds as well as break it down into a nice compost material that the plants would have a preference for.Another method if you have the space would be to do a sheet garden with it that is not used this year but next year after it has had time to cool down and go through the weed sprouting good time it can become..
Or if you have the space another would be to layer it into the lasagna type beds,, this would be considered a hot green so it would need layers of cool browns such as leaves, soil, peat, old wood chips etc,,If you did this and let it sit for the summer it would be usable for the fall and great planting for the spring.
  I see your looking at Huglekultur it would be great in that sense as it will break down nicely when layered in to create a nice bed  of soil and would balance the nitro sucking from the wood break down..
Any how just a few thoughts from our gardens to yours
Alan Westerman Memorial gardens
AKA
the Happy House Teaching Gardens
 
                                                
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My GrandFather took a 55 gal drum and put manure in it, say oh 1/4 full. Then filled the barrel with water & stir the mix up. He'd use the water for his plants. Replacing the manure and stiring as needed.
 
Mary James
Posts: 145
Location: NW MT Zones 4/5 Rollins Mt
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Black powder Bill,
Love that name reminds me of rendezvous...
  Your grandfather used manure  tea, a wonderful fertilizer.It is what we use here in our gardens.Learned from the Granny and mom...We have twinked the my recipe quite a bit .. good stuff..
 
2017 Permaculture Design Course at Wheaton Labs
http://richsoil.com/pdc
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