Re: [tomato] Hay Mulch

Richard Yarnell (
Tue, 2 Nov 1999 12:53:27 -0800 (PST)

Mulch is good.  Don't get me wrong.  Hay as mulch is not a good idea.
Good hay is full of seeds of many stripes.  In the garden, most of these
stripes are weeds.  

To answer the question, we call them "flakes."  During the baling process,
loose hay is gathered in the baler and then compacted.  These compacted
bunches of hay form the flakes and are convenient to handle.  Depending on
the baler and the crop the flakes will range from 2-5 inches each. Laid
side by side like tiles, there would be space between the edges for plants
to emerge.

Watering through the hay would be wasteful and would produce an
environment in the hay conducive to growth of all kinds of organisms.
Give this a though:  Use a permeable weed barrier over drip emitters which
can be timed or manually controlled and which water only the root zone of
individual plants.  For closely planted row crops like carrots drip tape
might be useful.  Cover the weed barrier (I use "road fabric" which is
used to support gravel when building roads (eg logging roads).  Hold this
cover in place with large bark pellets or chipped pruning litter or the
like (even _straw_ which has far fewer seeds than hay).  The key is to
keep water off the foliage and fruit.  Emitters accomplish this.  The weed
barrier keeps soil borne organisms from splashing on the plants.  

As someone has said, there are many ways to accomplish a single goal.
Intentionally introducing weed seeds into a garden is not one of them.

On Tue, 2 Nov 1999 wrote:

> How did you cut the hay into books?  Did you make a hole in each book to
> put your tomato plant in?  I can't visualize this, but I'm trying :)
> Justine

Richard Yarnell, SHAMBLES WORKSHOPS | No gimmick we try, no "scientific"
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