Re: [tomato] Hay Mulch

William McKay (
Wed, 03 Nov 1999 07:23:20 PST

Reading through the posts on hay mulch, plastic mulch, etc reinforces my 
belief that like politics, all gardening is local.  How you do it depends 
not only on your individual microclimate, but what you have for inputs.

I got Wilber's book from the library and looked through it the last night.  
Some of his ideas and techniques sounded like they had promise up here 
(southern New England) and some would be silly for me to try.  Some I 
wouldn't try even if they work (why would I want a twenty foot high tomato 
plant;  I would need staging to harvest )   For example, he is really down 
on horse and chicken manure and very up on using cow manure.  Well, cow 
manure is not generally available here-there are not a whole lot of dairys 
left in Eastern Massachusetts, & those there are use the manure they 
produce.  However, lots of people keep horses & have a hard time getting rid 
of the manure.  I have found a great source (high ratio of horse puckies to 
shavings) and have had very good luck with it.

I plan to try some variation on the hay/straw mulch technique, however.  
Straw is very expensive around here as is salt marsh hay (no weed seeds that 
will germinate in garden soil), but hay is fairly inexpensive and sometimes 
available free (the poor quality brand they use when constructing around 
wetlands).  I am thinking of a bit of an experiment-some plants using the 
bookmark technique, some using a thick mulch of grass clippings, chopped 
leaves(which I have aplenty) and perhaps some loose hay.
>I used hay, and I had no weeds.  The mat was too thick for the weeds to 
>hold.  A couple of seeds sprouted on the top, and they were easy to pull 
>Just as plastic mulch is not the answer for every climate or situation, the
>hay (or straw) mulch isn't either.  But, I swear by it, because it got
>results in my Illinois and Texas gardens.

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