today i went out and rinsed off the plants. we'd
had a pretty heavy downpour the other day and the
plants were almost all covered in dirt (both the tops
and bottoms of the leaves). some of the seedlings
looked like little dirt pegs sticking out of the
ground. the sun is out now and a nice breeze has
come along. by looking around you wouldn't think
that anything had happened.
The co-op here finally got some straw in this week and Tuesday 4 bales
followed me home . Yesterday I had a little job to do , but today ... there
are now 3 bakes of straw spread as a weed deterrent mulch around and between
the plants . My biggest problem is the grass , don't know what kind it is
but it sure will take over if I let it . A nice thick layer of straw
smothers it out , makes life much easier for me .
The only concern I have is that I wonder if the decomposing straw has an
effect on the nitrogen in the soil ... and if I need to use a nitrogen
supplement to balance that .
What type of straw Terry? If you want to look it up insert this phrase
into a Google search: the effect of decomposing (type) straw on soil
Lots of info on the net about your problem but is better seen if you
know the variety of straw.
I've used rice hulls, rice straw, oak leaves, pine needles, etc. as
mulch and a weed deterrent and all of them used up a significant amount
of available nitrogen. I always added a a nice amount of N to the soil
if it isn't mixed in with the soil it should not
need that much as only the soil interface is the
area in contact with the soil that is taking nitrogen
during decomposition. usually rainfall has some
nitrogen in it so i never bother to supplement
nitrogen as the end result after decomposition
returns any nitrogen anyways.
why make it decompose faster? :) that's like
adding fertilizer to a lawn to make it grow grass
faster so you can mow more often...
the other thing to consider is that the soil
carbon is needed for most places, so adding nitrogen
just burns through the soil carbon faster. the
warmer and wetter the climate the faster it goes.
the better slow carbon is held in the soil longer is
stuff like charcoal or biochar.
I'm OK then , the straw (probably fall wheat this early) is just laid on
top . Some areas I pulled the grass first , others I just piled the straw on
top of the grass . The areas where I pulled the grass , I piled the stuff on
top of the straw , if this stuff touches dirt it will re-root . The area
where i planted the vine stuff - squashes and melons - is a different matter
. Last summer I tried to grow potatoes in this area by using cages that I
filled with straw as the vine grew - miserable failure . After I pulled the
tater plants I tilled that mostly-decomposed straw into the soil . I might
need a nitrogen supplement in that area , the plants are all kind of
yellowed a little . It's also the last part to get mulched , so I can do
that before I cover it with straw . I'll slip by the nursery today while I'm
in town and see what Melissa thinks . She's pretty sharp , hasn't steered me
wrong yet .
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