I am sure many of you know the feeling: You are so excited to get out to the garden, get your hands dirty and to do some work… and then you show up.. and it is overtaken by weeds.  Dread, anxiety and fear are usually just a few emotions I immediately feel.

Maybe I am a weirdo, but usually once I get started I actually end up loving it. I become weed possessed, and wont stop until it is completed. However for the most part- I wish that I could lessen the weeds significantly.

We have tried many things, most recently being cardboard. Even though this worked temporarily, some of it ended up blowing away and it became more of a nuisance than a blessing.

When looking up the benefits to straw and hay these are some of the things I found:

“Straw and hay: Another great mulch for the vegetable garden is straw, salt hay, or weed-free hay. It looks good and has most of the benefits of the other mulches: retaining soil moisture, keeping down weeds, and adding organic matter to the soil when it breaks down. But be sure the hay you use is weed and seed free, or you’ll just be making trouble for your garden. And don’t pull hay or straw up to the stems of vegetables or the trunks of fruit trees or you’ll be inviting slug and rodent damage.” (www.organicgardening.com) 

This seemed more relevant to my needs:

“What’s the difference between hay and straw? Hay is a short word for grass, commonly Timothy or Orchard  Grass, grown to proper height, cut at the peak of nutrition (ideally before it goes to seed), dried, bundled, and  stored safely. The best hay is grown for sale to livestock owners because they value it and are willing to pay the premium price it commands. For various reasons, primarily weather related, it is difficult to cut hay without at least some of the grass going to seed.

Straw is the bare stalk remaining after a nutritious seed head, such as barley or wheat has been harvested. The
stalks are then dried, bundled and stored safely. The best straw is sold as high quality animal bedding (think
race horses). Farmers make every effort to harvest the grain from straw, leaving straw bales relatively seed free
especially when compared to hay.”  (University of Maryland Extension Service)

What I found though, that if your goal is to enrich your soil, then the nutritious hay is much better, and that most people just use straw for pathways and keeping down weeds. And since this was our primarily goal at the time: we ended up getting straw to test. (It was also more readily available)

laying hay

An image of straw between rows of our Turnips


What do you all find is better for your garden as far as mulching goes? Comments appreciated!!