Re: Re: [tomato] Hay Mulch

Thomas Giannou (
Wed, 3 Nov 1999 09:37:47 -0800


Be careful with grass clippings.  If you are using chemicals for weed
control in your lawn, it would be advisable not to use the clippings for
mulch.  If you are clear of weed and feed or other weed killing chemicals on
your turf grasses, then grass clippings make good worm food.

If you place your hay out over the winter, then that can become a source of
food for the earthworms during the winter time.  I read a piece of
information about thick mulch being placed on the ground in Canada and
earthworms took care of a good deal of that mulch.  What the worms leave
behind in their castings, is an excellent source of nitrogen for your plants
in the next growing season.

This depends, of course, upon whether or not you have worms present in your
soils now.  The Canadian account I read talked about a thick muclh cover,
lots of snow on top, and having worms consume the majority of the mulch by
spring.  How much snow you get on top might also be a factor.  If there are
cold, freezing temps, but no snow and the ground is frozen, we shouldn't
expect much out of the earthworms.

Best Regards,
Thomas Giannou
Spokane, Wa.

----- Original Message -----
From: <>
To: <>
Sent: Wednesday, November 03, 1999 8:49 AM
Subject: Re: Re: [tomato] Hay Mulch

> I've been watching the strong tides of opinion concerning mulches wash
> and forth across my screen, and I find it fascinating.  I can imagine a
> dinner party where mulch fanatical guests come to blows over the consumme.
> "Now, remember, dear, no discussion of politics, religion, or mulches at
> dinner tonight!"
> (I exaggerate, of course: things have been quite civil here compared to
> of the sieges on the AOL Tomatoes board....)
> I have several nonpartisan questions--at least I think they are!
> This year (my first year of serious gardening) I learned of mulching with
> grass clippings.  About 2/3 of my garden was heavily mulched with them,
> this portion of the garden did far better than the rest in weed
> water retention, and general plant lustiness and health.  I also have a
> successful composter that I built out of hay bales.  Oh, and I'm in Zone
> in the Hudson River valley. This is the background to my questions:
> 1) I was wondering what to do with the composter hay bales (which have
> somewhat decomposed in the course of the summer) over the winter.  Would
> there be any advantage to breaking them down into leaves (books) and
> the beds with them?  Wouldn't they break down further over the winter, and
> thus enrich the soil? Then I could till them in before planting next
> 2) Are there any advantages to hay composting over grass clipping
> The weed issue doesn't particularly concern me, as any good, thick mulch
> would prevent the growth of weeds, wouldn't it?  I lean towards grass
> clippings because they're abundant, free, and are proven to work in my
> garden, but I'm open to new information!
> 3) If the hay bales were going to introduce weed seeds, wouldn't they have
> done so in my composter?  My ever healthy bindweed nemesis certainly liked
> take root there, but I didn't see other weeds in the compost, and I
> pulled hay from the top down into the compost as one of my browns.
> 4) This is just a general query.  Doesn't anyone have any aesthetic
> objections to bright colored plastic mulches?  Unless one's gardening is
> heavily scientific, or totally production oriented, isn't the sight of
> glaring orange underpinnings to the plants displeasing to anyone else but
>  A friend gave me some of the orange plastic, I put it around some tomato
> plants, and within a week pulled it off.
> Thanks for any and all thoughts about these questions--
> Aulaire