My smaller secondary garden (maybe 30' x 50')has abysmal soil. I've
been planting winter rye in it for the past three years, but the
improvement has been minimal.
I recently received about 75 bales of rotten grass hay from a local
farmer. A portion of this has already been spread on the garden and
will be disced in this week. However, this farmer has other rotten hay
to get rid of, and he proposed an idea to me.
He suggested we line up 5-6 round bales (the BIG ones) of grass hay
and basically unroll them onto the garden. The idea would be to plant
veggies in between these strips, using the hay as a kind of 2-3 year
I've thought this through and can't identify any obvious drawbacks,
outside of the fact that I won't be able to plow or disc this area for
a couple of years--at least until the heavy strips really begin to
Am I overlooking any obvious drawbacks? The hay is relatively free of
It sounds good to me....I'm envious of access to all that spoiled hay.
There is a good argument to be made *against* plowing and tilling.
Try your local library for books by Ruth Stout, written around the middle of
the last century. She kept a permanent mulch of spoiled hay on her garden,
with great results, and writes about it in a witty and charming style.
The only drawback I can think of is a possible increase in your slug
population (if you have one where you are). I have great success using
"Sluggo", a non-toxic slug bait, around susceptible plants.
Zone 6, Southcentral PA
I'm a huge fan of Ruth Stout's method. I use alfalfa bales because I have
no source of rotten hay.
Look her up on google and you'll get the gist of her philosophy, which was a
bit radical in her day. She had her detractors too.
That's awful for the hay farmers, but a boon for the gardeners.
I can find no fault with your idea to unroll round bales on your garden.
We use spoiled hay on our garden all the time, and despite our cool climate
and short summers, it really adds to the soil fertility. (I'm in Alaska.)
If you can get some fresh manure (cow, horse, whatever) and compost some
of that hay, you'll be a rich man : ) (I sell composted cow shit and hay for
$100/pickup load and I'm probably not charging enough. My own garden looks
like it's on steroids, just from top-dressing composted cow shit on it. I
new beds this summer. The neighbors are all embarassed that their gardens
aren't doing as well, so I told them to go get some pickup loads of the compost
[for free]. Free publicity. My girlfriends are all ratchet-mouths.)
Anyway, yeah, unroll the rounds onto your poor garden area. Everywhere we
leave a square bale sit for awhile, then pick it up, there are earthworms up the
wazoo underneath the bale.
If that farmer is giving you those bales and delivering them, make sure you do
something nice for him. Fresh baked bread, cookies, the occasional jug of good
wine or bourbon, etc. (Republicans drink Scotch; Democrats drink whiskey,
as a rule. It's a weird rule, but it seems to hold true.)
Gawd, I just can't drink Scotch. IMO, it's awful. But a difference of opinion
is what makes the world go round, and makes horse races so much fun : )
Hey, how much frost can glads stand? Mine are within days of blooming and
we're starting to have hard frost at night. We covered the glads last night
with a visqueen tent, which the wind ripped off. The plants are a little wilty
today (not bad), but I'm wondering if they'll make it to bloom. My SO (a
homegrown Alaskan) has never seen a gladiola in bloom. (He also thinks apples
come from the grocery store, so I planted a couple of trees.)
Even if I have to build tiny shelters over the apple trees to get them to set
blooms, I'll do it. I'm a transplanted Californian, living in Alaska. I
roses. *sigh* OTOH, I'm amazed at what will grow up here that won't grow
down in the small states.
There's a woman across the bay from me who grew up in Oregon. She's got
about 20 semi-dwarf apple trees inside a *giant* quonset hut greenhouse,
because she wants apple trees. She told me that she put 42 apple pies down
in the freezer last year : )
There are people who grow apples in Alaska without shelters of any kind.
You need to select the variety carefully of course. You need a hardy AND
early ripening variety. Even then, it depends on what part of Alaska
you are in. Alaska is a big state.... but you have probably noticed
Steve, in the Adirondacks, where we also have to choose carefully.
Jan Flora wrote:
My apple rootstocks are from Canada and the scionwood is from Russia and
Finland. (Well, the varieties are anyway.)
There was a big feature article in yesterday's Anchorage Daily News about
an old guy in Anchorage who has ~150 apple trees. He sets up a roadside stand
and sells apples this time of year. I've got to get up there to meet him one of
email@example.com (William Orth) wrote in message
This plan is a lot better than winter rye and rototill. If the soil
has, say, very low P or K winter rye does nothing for it. I even
suggest that you cover all the ground with the hay, and plant through
the hay. You won't be able to direct seed for a couple of years (you
will have to plant seedlings), but then the soil will be fixed. I am
guessing that one ton of spoiled hay has 6 pounds of P and twice as
much in K. The worms will do your rototilling, with that kind of cover
your dirt will be turned over completely about once a year.
If you have success with it (and you probably will) you should have
some long term fertility in there. I continue to add some organic
matter every year, but I stagger it around the garden so I can direct
seed where I want. I still plant the tomatoes, zucchini, chard,
cabbage, garlic etc., right through the mulch.
MAN! i cannot believe my luck!
for 9months i've been trying to figure out a way to get
my hands on exactly what you've got!!
You have a gold mine.!! When the farmer drops it off...make it look
like your doing him a favor so he won't catch on. well o.k. maybe
i'm getting a little greedy here. ( Thank him profusely & send them pies
once a month)
Try to get the book by "Ruth Stout" title: No Work Garden Book
(Amazon.com product link shortened)63671283/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/002-0235349-9797664?v=glance&s=books
it was on Amazon.com for $3.00
but you could also get it thru interlibrary loan. RuthStout will tell you
how to do this,
and you will have TTTHHHEEE best garden in the state!!!!!!!
Man i can't believe how lucky you are!
I'd kill to have it.
p.s. just to be really , really, nice to the soil; go to this web site:
under "information" then maybe "basic program"?
and add the amendments he recommends.
keep in contact with me i'd love to hear how it works out in time.
also, take pictures of before & then after.
wow!, oh, and also send me some radishes!
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