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applestar
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I want to talk about HAY as in Ruth Stout

So I watched the [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=111340#111340]Ruth Stout videos[/url], and what she was using was obviously HAY. Now how many times have I seen recommendations AGAINST using HAY? Weed seeds, etc. Right? I've often bought straw bales, but never hay.

In one part of the videos, she distinctly said she uses "soft" hay not "hard" hay, and I wondered if she meant "straw" by "hard" hay.

Let's just say she IS using hay. Spoiled hay, because they've been sitting around in her garden. Well, I imagine spoiled hay would be inexpensive if you can find it to buy, but next to that, I believe hay is least expensive in the height of hay harvesting season, which is summer to late summer. That much I know, but that's about the extent of my knowledge of hay.

Well, just a few more details -- Hay, being green-cut and dried, would contain more nutrients than straw, especially N. They can also contain seeds especially the late season hay. There are several grades of hay, starting with the first cut, and I seem to remember first cuts are the softest because they contain the tender tips and least amount of stems. I've seen lovely soft green dried hay, as well as yellowed dried brittle hay. And some hay that smells heavenly -- I have that hay grass: Sweet Vernal Grass. Some hay contain clover (come to think of it, Sweet Clover also has that same scent) and/or alfalfa, but, at the local feed store, they said they don't carry alfalfa hay, and on a horsefolks forum, they said alfalfa hay is mostly fed to race horses because alfalfa provide too much energy and make horses behave like kids that ate too much candy.

I'm pretty sure if I want hay, this time of the year~spring might be just about the worst time of the year to go and buy them, except maybe spoiled hay.

Any thoughts, comments, enlightenments? 8)

ETA: Oh another thing. I want to move TOWARDS self-sufficiency. I admit that on a suburban subdivision, that's asking a lot. Who's got room to grow a hay field? It occurred to me that grass clippings could substitute for RS's hay, but we all need as much of that stuff as we've got for the compost piles... or do we? If we go RS's way, then SHE doesn't make/use compost piles.... And THEN, what would we do with our kitchen scraps?
Last edited by applestar on Tue Jun 15, 2010 1:25 am, edited 1 time in total.

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I'm not well versed on the hay aspect. But my neighbor across the street bough straw that turned out to be hay for her new lawn. Well she fought the "HAY" yard that grew like wildfire for several years. I bought a hay bale last year for Halloween decoration (it's in the compost now) and it's was growing a healthy green grass all over before I took it to the compost. I will deal with that, hopefully the composting took care of the seeds.

There is a farm by me I stopped by late last summer that tore a barn down that had 5-6 round bales inside that looked like they had been there for a long long time. I wanted to see if they would let me have some but no one answered the door and I haven't been back since. That would be a score.

Onto the grass part of it. I have always used grass clippings as a green mulch, always. I understand that grass while decomposing will use a lot of nitrogen, but after that it gives that nitrogen back (correct me if I'm wrong there) I have never had a problem that I know of using grass. I pile it on thick 3-4+ inches several times a year. It decomposes rather quickly which is good. I'm not sure how much grass/yard you have. But I have too much for mulch with a normal sized subdivision lot. Which means I still keep my garden thick throughout the season and still HAVE to grass-cycle or put in a compost pile or my garden would disappear under a sea of grass clippings. So having an abundance of grass at my house will leave me more than enough for the garden and to use in the compost with leaves and kitchen scraps. Not putting down Ruth she did very well with out COMPOST but that doesn't mean you couldn't do both. Sheet mulch per say all year than add the finished compost, or the overflow with kitchen scraps in the fall sheet mulch style and than again in the spring in the planting holes, that is if you do planting holes. Ruth and Fukuoka just threw seed down and walked away. I will try that this year with some of the companions. I actually thought about doing that last year in the fall with pea and bean seed as a experimental cover crop, experimental being throwing the seed out and walking away. Another thing I have in common with those two gardening idols if you will.

Sorry not helping with the hay/straw dilemma but I'm wholeheartedly for the use of grass. I know you know what you are doing so I hope I'm not sounding like I'm teaching you something you don't understand or preaching here. Just putting my thoughts out there.

You just gotta love that Ruth Stout don't ya. :D

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There's a lot I don't understand about Ruth Stout's magic, including this idea of throwing seeds down (and NOT watering!) and walking away. I'm not convinced it would work to me. Maybe you have to be that spiritual or talk to them nice or something! :) So I don't have answers about the hay straw thing... She did say she doesn't weed, presumably because all that mulch suppresses the weeds. But it implies that not a lot of weeds are sprouting from her hay. I too have seen hay bales covered in grass that sprouts out of them. A mystery!

But it is my impression that she did compost, just not with a pile. She did sheet composting or burying her kitchen scraps in the ground or something like that.

I checked on Amazon. All her books are out of print now. They are available used on Amazon, but only in the range from moderately to ridiculously expensive. I'll have to check the library.

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I had her book. Had is the word... it burned along with the house..
I have been busy replacing my book treasures... that one I haven't found again, yet... I will.

I do want to wade in on the hay mystery...

There is many differing kinds of hay. Hay is grass, weeds, and legumes, even small trees occasionally in it, when it is a rough field.
Some grass is fine, and stays soft. Some grass is that big tough stuff that animals won't even eat when it is green.

Hay has a limited shelf life depending on the storage of it. You normally try to feed hay out as.... first in, first out... just like you rotate your food in your pantry, or they do at the grocery store.

If hay is too aerated, it looses vitamins and minerals to the air...
If hay is able to draw moisture from being on bottom... it begins to break down into compost...
If hay is kept too dry it shrivels to nothing and has no feed value for your livestock at all.
If hay is kept too moist it molds and is deadly to your livestock, not even safe as bedding!

I have hay in the loft of my barn... it was fair, not great, just mixed grass hay... lots of seeds. My animals ate it great. It was not the stiff bulky stuff and worked great in hen nests. I developed a barn loft leak on one side... so the hay on that side is a loss... it turned dark from the moisture, and is molded I know.

I drop a bale down, away from the animals.. and take it to the garden.
The seeds in it... got moisture and sprouted, and died... already.
There is no nutrition for animals left in it. There is mold spores in it... old moldy hay... sets my allergies into high gear!
I put on a mask to get the hay... But, I cart it to the garden, break it open in an out of the way spot, and let the sun, air and rain... fix it for me.
After a few weeks, the mold is dead, the hay is still there, still soft, but darkened... the weed seeds are dead. THE WEED SEEDS ARE DEAD!
I can now use it anywhere and anytime that I want to.

I also got some 2 year old hay from a farmer... my goats would not eat it. They turned up their noses and walked away. Okay fine, to the garden it went... not molded... just old. So, I left the bales in the garden and let rain and sun get them... the seeds sprout and it is a green bale for awhile... then, it quits... then... I have mulch.

The seeds in hay will sprout, will grow and will die... Occasionally break open that hay bale, wet it... see if it grows... no growth? Okay.. mulch.

I cart manure and bedding to the garden, and put it into containers... instant grass! I just wait it out.. it will die down... just don't let it go to seed... green manure I call it. When the manure stops growing grass... it is aged and ready for my use.

The seeds in hay have a limited life. Just like your garden seeds, you don't store them in heat, or where they get moist... it will kill your seeds. It will also kill weed seeds when exposed to heat and light... so they grow at first, it just adds more organic matter... if you are prepared to deal with the growth.. and don't spread the fresh hay... you are planting... if you do..

Get your hay, spray it with water, set it in the sunniest area... let it grow that grass, those weeds, trim them off... no seeds... Wait... patience here!
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https://www.motherearthnews.com/Organic-Gardening/2004-02-01/Ruth-Stouts-System.aspx

I couldn't find any books on Ruth this was all I could muster a little info on her that may answer some questions. Hopefully.

Dono

:Edit: I like your idea of letting the grass grow OL in the hay before spreading or whatever you want to do with it it. That is kinda what I was hoping last year when my hay was green with grass and it was growing pretty healthy. I was hoping the seed or majority of it would sprout and not cause me problems in the compost or garden.

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Ruth had a series of articles in Organic Gardening and Farming beginning in 1953.
Her books:
The Ruth Stout No-Work Garden Book (1971)
How to Have a Green Thumb Without an Aching Back (1955)
Gardening Without Work (1961)
I've Always Done It My Way (1975)



It says in Rodale, that Ruth put her vegetable wastes, stalks, etc. on the straw.

I do recall reading about her corn cage. The racoons kept eating her corn, so she had the cage built... see it in the videos?
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Ozark Lady, so from what you're saying, I'm reading that old or spoiled hay is actually not a rare event -- especially as we approach the time of the year when there are only the least desirable hay remaining in storage before fresh supply begins to show up (when is that exactly?) -- and may be I should just try calling all the local numbers under hay in the yellow pages? Maybe some of the horse boarding stables?

Do spoiled hay ever show up on freecycle? I guess I should try to locate some listings in my area....

I really appreciate your explaining how hay gets 'spoiled' >> into what *I* would want for my garden :lol:

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Thanks for the common sense stuff OL; that sort of example is the stuff we dreamed of when we started this site. :D

Fukuoka-sensei did use straw in the title of his book, and on his beds. Perhaps an example to emulate?

I have noticed if you mix hay or straw and water and look at it under a microscope, you have large quantities of ciliates (a type of protozoa)released. Perhaps there is a good biological factor here that is also helpful?

Ruth herself talks about the moisture retaining factor, certainly a HUGE part of this effect...

And Rainbow, I SO get your hesitance; I am endeavoring to overcome my own. But EVERYTHING I am reading or hearing or touching of late leads me to believe this is not just a good method, but very likely the best method out there. I will be adopting my garden entirely to this cultural style this year... (most of the way there already; hay will be the biggest new feature...)

Ruth and Fukuoka-san are not alone in this thinking; May I introduce [url=https://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=2865701754864235132]Emilia Hazelip[/url]?

Enjoy.

HG
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Farmers have been feeding and selling their hay all winter. When the fields get green, and start feeding the animals... so not so dependant on hay.. then the prices come down. And remember... the hay from last year, has lost quality for feed. The farmer wants to keep hay until he no longer needs it for feed. Then, he wants it out of there... make room for the new.. the best for his animals.

Most folks that have hay have some that is old, that is in the way!
They just hate to have to handle it again... Bucking hay is not a fun job. It makes you itch.. and itch.. and itch.

Anyone who sells hay, or even farmers who sell livestock... would normally have hay in excess... not fit for feeding to animals... so of no value to them at all!

You can also volunteer to clean hen houses for folks that sell fresh eggs. Our neighbors used to take turns cleaning our henhouse when I was a kid, because my folks only used chemicals on their garden... it was waste to my folks... gold to the neighbors.

You can even take trash bags, and offer to pick up the scattered hay that is on the floor of all barns... not good feed... great for the garden.
Just lay it out on some plastic sheeting, wet it, and let the weeds grow.
You can even roll up the plastic, kill those weeds in a few days, and roll it out again!

If you can find a local livestock auction... go there... meet the customers... You would be amazed how many of them, would love for you to help them tidy up... by carrying off manure, hay etc.
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Fukuoka-san tells the story of the man who valued each and every straw; he would cart his produce to market but on the way home would collect every piece of straw and manure he found in the road. Within just a few years he was the richest farmer around, from collecting what other people saw as worthless... :mrgreen:

So ignore what other people think; Ruth is certainly a fine example there. We are learning an old/new way that many will tell you is crazy, but few will actually bother to find out about. We will be the next ones to show them, as Fukuoka-sensei showed Emilia and Dave Holmgren... set the example and others will adopt it when they are ready...

But I suspect Fukuoka-san would be most taken with Mrs. Stout; she did as he did; made her own way on her own observations. As is OL. It is a salient part of the lesson we must not forget...

You all inform me, and I thank you for it...as gixx says, dono... :D

HG
Last edited by The Helpful Gardener on Sat Feb 13, 2010 7:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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I went to the local livestock auction... that is where I buy ducks and geese. They also often sell cockatiels, parakeets etc. For a fraction of the pet shop prices.
I met neighbors there, they have goats, they also raise rabbits and guinea pigs.
I offered to help with clean up... I hauled home 2 large pickup loads of manure from the rabbit barn, and the guinea pig house... annoying for them, stinky for anyone... toxic if spread too thickly.
But, gold if you know what to do with it.
Remember... too much of a good thing is too much... too much water, too much manure... But never, too much mulch.

Thanks for the kind words HG... :oops:
Honest, I am just a cheap skate... I want my garden productive... and cheap! I will spend money on seeds, and food preservation supplies... But it annoys me to spend money on stuff to stick in the ground and never see again... so I try to be frugal... get what I need, for free!

I searched all last spring for a good supply of potash? I think that was it... I couldn't find it in the form that I wanted. I finally, did some research... what I was hunting for... was in wood ashes...
My mouth hit the ground. I am always trying to figure out how to get rid of wood ashes. So then, the job was, how to get the potash and not get the soil toxic, the lye leaching, the alkalinity changing my ph... More to learn. Too much is still too much... how much is safe? Still working on that, but erring on the too little side seems safer to me.

Check around, folks who burn wood, get more wood ashes than they have a use for... Many would love to give you several buckets full.
And slugs hate the little bits that don't burn all the way up.
I have heard... don't know it for a fact... that the charcoal bits left in the ashes sweeten the soil... I remember putting charcoal in houseplants.
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Watch the video from Emilia Hazelip I attached, she uses ashes but usually only with beans.

Rainbow assumes a compost somewhere in Ruth's garden, and she is right, but it is ONLY the hay and straw and crop residue returned to the row! Emilia explains it nicely, and in a French accent, which I personally love...

HG
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I'm down with the crop residues but does anyone see what the difference between using lawn grass verses straw/hay to be (if they are chemical free). I have all the free grass I need. Like OL said I'm cheap and frugal when it comes to amendments. Hence the layers of grass.

And on the potash I have been saving my ashes all winter for the lawn and garden. It is said good to repel certain insects though the ph difference will be minimal with a small dose.

Too much to think about. I'm trying to do 1000 things at once. :? One thing at a time, yeah right, that's not now I work.

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The lawn grass, is just hay that hasn't dried and been baled yet... often the exact same grass, just cut shorter, and not normally allowed to seed out like hay is. It is the water content... there are enzyme changes that occur, while that grass is laying cut in the field, waiting for the balers to come through. You could lay out your grass to sun dry, and let the enzymes kick in for you there as well as with hay. Hay goes through an enzyme change within the stem... changing plant sugars into starch, it isn't all bacterial although some of it is. So, use your lawn clippings, both ways, and get the best of both.

Straw is the stems, left over after Apple harvests her rice, or someone else harvests grain... usually there are no seeds in this.. due to the winnowing.
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I don't have much hesitance! I've mostly been a Ruth Stout gardener all along and didn't know it -- year around mulching, no fertilization except compost and mulch, no chemicals, no tilling, no soil compaction (easy in raised beds!). Only places we part company (so far!) are that I still love my compost pile and that thing of walking away from the seeds without even watering them in. I'm used to babying seeds more than that and that's the one I'm still having a little trouble wrapping my head around. But otherwise I'm very much a Keep It Simple, no fuss gardener.

She didn't just use hay and straw and crop residue, she frequently mentions "garbage and anything that rots" and I know I saw somewhere that she put her kitchen scraps on the garden, just not in a pile...

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Thanks for that OL, I was just coming back to say while watching the Hazelip video i notice, which I have known, straw doesn't compact like grass will allowing more air and water through, though i will not stop using grass because it has done me well so far. At least not yet.

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She has eliminated a step, without apparent issue...

Don't we call that a breakthrough? :D

You're onto something there, Gixx; I tried the grass clippings all over my mounded rows (I got that idea from native technique from this area; another country heard from) two years back and found it got water repellent when really dry. Just used it as mulch for the sides and used compost on top this past year; problem solved. Just straw or hay this year...

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Rainbow, I think you're getting too caught up in the mystique. I often sow seeds and walk away because I'm planting seeds just before it rains on the same day or the next day. So if you extend that, as long as you're sowing on relatively dry ground, and there's a soaking rain within a few days.... I think the point is that once you soak the seeds, they're going to sprout. If you don't tend those sprouted seeds so that they don't dry out, they're likely to die. When you water in, the seeds are activated right away and you have some (semblance of) control/idea over when to expect germination etc.

Isn't it funny that we're ALL saying we've been gardening this way more-or-less all along? Think we're on to something? Maybe throughout history, in every generation, there have been people quietly gardening this way, but you know, the plowmakers guild/union/lobby and all... :roll: Maybe their voices are finally being heard. Maybe the number of people who hear AND LISTEN will grow.

My only issue is that I want to become SELF SUFFICIENT/SUSTAINING. I usually don't have enough Lawn grass clippings or leaves. The rice straw is being returned to the rice paddies, but I have to work on growing more stuff within the confines of the property. For now, I guess I'll keep on getting straw as well as hay of some sort. (I'm not sure if I can do the clean up freebee... I can just imagine DH's response to my wanting to use his pickup truck for that purpose.... :lol: )

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Hey, folks, don't get to too legalistic here.
Did anyone other than me, notice she also sprinkled on some cotton seed meal? I found it odd that she sprinkled it right on the seeds.
I would have guessed that it would burn them.
I always keep it off the plants... but she put it right on the seeds...

What we need to do, is look at what we have. Look what is around us. Study up on items that are in our everyday life.

I would even consider shredding newspaper and using that for mulch, if that is what I had available... Paper shredders from work, generate alot of paper!

Let's look, read, talk and learn... keep what is easy for us... and just let slide what doesn't work for us.

Remember... There is no right or wrong way! If it works for you... it is right... if you can't get it to work... it is wrong for you!

Plants are so forgiving and so eager to grow... in spite of us!
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Ozark Lady wrote:Hey, folks, don't get to too legalistic here.
Did anyone other than me, notice she also sprinkled on some cotton seed meal? I found it odd that she sprinkled it right on the seeds.
I would have guessed that it would burn them.
I always keep it off the plants... but she put it right on the seeds...

What we need to do, is look at what we have. Look what is around us. Study up on items that are in our everyday life.

I would even consider shredding newspaper and using that for mulch, if that is what I had available... Paper shredders from work, generate alot of paper!

Let's look, read, talk and learn... keep what is easy for us... and just let slide what doesn't work for us.

Remember... There is no right or wrong way! If it works for you... it is right... if you can't get it to work... it is wrong for you!

Plants are so forgiving and so eager to grow... in spite of us!
BOOM! you got it there sister. Bring the spring let's start planting and see what happens. 8)

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AS, your thought is shared. I think it always has been here but we were tricked into "needing" more than we did. And did you see the girls raking out thatch from the long grass? If we stop mowing, there's your straw...

And if your husband hesitates even a second ask him what he got a truck for? Not hauling? Then he must not need a truck? Watch how fast you get the keys... :lol:

OL, bless you. Yes. Just yes. All good, all right. (I still like straw better than paper, never saw a ciliate on the New York Times but I didn't look either, and that's just quibbling)... As Gixx says, BOOM!
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You're SO RIGHT, Ozark Lady!!! And thank you, HG. :wink:

Touching on the mushroom experiment, straw substrate was the first one to show signs of growth, paper was last.

As for not mowing -- you know the problems I've had with that. If you don't, I'll find you the link. :roll:

Come'on Lady Spring! We're ready to experiment! :-()
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That's beautiful AS. And knocked out in your spare time, I'm sure... :roll:

You remind me of my friend Bill Cullina; speaking schedules and all sorts of other things and he knocks out books in his spare time. I used to tell him quit it; he was making the rest of us look bad :lol:

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I also saw Ruth Stout's videos on YouTube about a month ago. I was able to find one of her books and read it cover to cover. In the fall we dumped most of our shredded leaves on the veg and flower gardens and I feel like I hit paydirt when I saw her videos! I went out and got the veg beds in order yesterday and the leaves have broken down nicely and I saw some monster worms. I'll start looking around for spoiled hay to add to it. I'm really excited to see how this works!
"If we throw mother nature out the window, she comes back in the door with a pitchfork." Masanobu Fukuoka

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If may: straw I don't believe is the magical ingredient. I have monster worms with a single bale of straw and most of that was in the compost. I'm not saying to NOT use straw but you can get there with other means. I don't want to see people saying that without a ton of straw and no digging and this and that you will fail. That is just plain wrong, you can get to where you want without following ONE person's guidelines. You must look around at what does you good.

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I agree Gixx,
I have about 1/20 hay to leaves ratio.
I use what is available to me, and that is mostly leaves.
And I have worms galore, far from monsters, but worms none the less.

I think worms are different in different areas. When my hubby was stationed in Illinois, I noticed worms came up after a rain, and they looked like snakes to me. I am just so used to the smaller worms that I normally see. Even when we buy nightcrawlers for fishing, they are tiny compared to what I used to see up north.
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Maybe I'll just stick with leaves. We have woods right behind my house and there are piles of leaves in there. Everybody dumps their yard waste back there, I doubt if anyone would mind if I pull out a few wheel barrow fulls of leaves...
"If we throw mother nature out the window, she comes back in the door with a pitchfork." Masanobu Fukuoka

"Naturam expellas furca, tamen usque recurret." Horace

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Leaves are a brown, hay is a green...

Different results for sure. If you were doing long term veg like asparagus, artichokes, or perennial greens, then maybe leaves are okay, but if you are doing short term stuff like lettuce or maters (I've found peppers like it a little fungal, but too fungal and they get wood fast).

Why do you all think smart people like Ruth and Masanobu used hay and straw? Ruth was surrounded by trees and Fukuoka-sensei had an orchard...they had leaves too...

:?:

HG
Scott Reil

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Wow, what a put down... :hehe:
Why do you all think smart people like Ruth and Masanobu used hay and straw? ( I saw that reference to SMART PEOPLE) (grinning)

But, but, but, Scott. I promise, I would be raking leaves constantly. I get them off the beds, honest I do, and then, bam it is inches deep again! (kind of like snow this year)

As much as Ruth liked not to work at gardening, I bet she didn't rake leaves daily to keep them off her plants! And I really can't see the orchard guy out there removing the leaves. I put the 1 of the 1/20 there and nature puts the 20 there. I can't win! I am outnumbered! -helpsos-

If I were going to spend $5.00 and get hay, straw or leaves... I would choose old hay, or straw...NOT LEAVES. But, it isn't my choice, I can't keep them out of there!

And I can't walk down the road picking up straw! I would walk completely out of state before I got a pound of it! C'mon gimme a break! nutz:
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I get it OL (and no put down intended), but it is not the same thing...

You are building fungal mass by moving carbon in, but what are you missing in not using the hay or straw...?

Well, like I said it's a green, a pretty intensive one. So it would stand to reason that it is a pretty bacterial food and if I mixed hay in water I would soon find a lot of bacteria. But not so much... :?

What you will find is ciliates. Lots of them. An inordinate amount of ciliates really, for a small quantity of above soil level material. And no I don't know why, other than to surmise there probably WAS a lot of bacteria, but the ciliates get attracted and eat them.

Which is the first phase in our poop loop, right? Add hay and get a huge shot of protists (30:1 C:N) that eat your bacteria (5:1 C:N) and poop a BUNCH of nitrogen in a plant ready form. You all ain't doing that with leaves... so gixx, hate to disagree, but there IS a little magic in hay...

Hey I love leaves; some of my best friends are leaves, nothing wrong with leaves. But they are not hay... I refer you all back to the title of the thread (much as Gixx as abandoned his intial position as hay supporter later in the thread :lol: ). There are good reasons why hay does soil as good as it does; it is a far more bacterial food, yet has a fair amount of lignin to support the softer side of fungi. It brings a ready supply of protista (like nothing else I know other than compost), makes a mulch that breaks down slowly without much matting, and is pretty readily available most places on the planet.

Can you hammer a nail with a wrench? Sure. The results might not be as good and it will take longer, but you can... still, despite owning a wrench too, I'm getting a hammer this year...

HG
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Scott, I can't hammer a nail with a hammer! And it isn't unusual to see me try with a shoe, rolling pin, etc. :lol:

Honest, my take is: You have to have humus. If you have no other source of humus use the leaves, use weeds, use what you have. If you have nothing, you will have dust, not soil, it will blow away!

In an ideal world, have a lawn to mow, have a compost maker, and simply pile manure hay, leaves, grass clippings, weeds, kitchen waste into it, and take wonderful compost out of it.

Most of us are not at either extreme, we have more than leaves, and less than the compost maker. So, we find the combination that works for us.

I have woods, I bring in a chainsaw and remove the large trees, then I bring in goats to eat the brush and get the bramble cleared out, then I run pigs to go through and root out the weeds the goats didn't get and get to the "root of the problem".
Then I go through and plant a grass mix, it will have alfalfa, fescue, rye, lespedeza, Kentucky blue grass and several other grass or legume type seeds. I let it grow, and self seed for one season, only one or the big weeds will return.
Now I mow and rake it, I let it set and dry out, and chemical changes happen within the grass. And finally I come back and bale it up. I have hay. But, within my bale of hay I also have weeds that grew in with my grass, small trees, and even some bramble and other stickers, and this is in a fresh field.
I spend some time grubbing out the stickers, and trees etc. But, next season I will still get a mix of grass, legumes, and brambles, trees and weeds. And some of the grass seed mix will take off and some won't. Some is cool season grasses and some is warm season grasses, so it depends on which cutting we are discussing to know what constitutes hay.

Straw: When farmers complete harvesting wheat, rice, barley etc. There is stubble left in the field, they then come in and cut it, comb it into windbreaks and wait for nature to do the chemical change, and then they come back and bale it. Yes, again, there will be some weeds mixed in, and maybe some grass, but not alot. Quite often straw is left long past the chemical change and it is more woody than is hay, and is therefore slower to break down.

I know how to make hay fields, straw fields and bales of either.
I also know that within the plants there is a chemical reaction, where the last of the chlorophyl is used up and the sugars turn into starches. It is not all simply decompostiion happening to the plant it is also happening within the plant.

To a lesser degree the same thing is happening to leaves, but they have already passed some of the stages that the hay or straw has yet to get to, and some of the biological processes, just aren't gonna happen there.

Even within a goat, the processes are happening. A goat does not digest their food, not really. They eat, they put the food into a holding stomach, where it is wetted and wilted. Then they bring it up, all full of the bacteria, and they chew it finer, then swallow it into a second stomach, where the microbes are heavy and very healthy.
Here is where digestion takes place. Here is the microbes that you must be very careful to keep in balance. A sudden diet change and those microbes are simply not there to digest the food, and the goat can starve with a full stomach.
Some of those microbes only digest grains, some hay types, some leaf and woody stuff. And they are inefficient at best on other types of greens.
If a goat is in trouble, you must give them probiotics, which are just some new bacteria to populate their stomach and digest the food. But, it is simply better to just make all changes more gradual and keep those microbes healthy in the first place.

Soil is similar, it has bacteria that digests and again, it must have sufficient numbers to do the job, or the stuff just sets there. The good news is, the soil isn't dying it is waiting for new little bacteria to get born to get the job done, more water, warmer temps and you got it, new bacteria. And straw or hay is similar to the probiotics that is used to rescue goats from malnutrition. You could give the goat a bit every day, to ensure they have plenty, but normally a healthy goat will make their own. I say that it is similar, what I mean is it is full of the bacteria, microbes etc and they are replenished, restored and fed by it.

You can make your own hay or straw at home. It does not have to go through a baler to become hay or straw. It does need to be cut, then cured, which is a process happening within the plant. The chlorophyll must be used up. And you have hay or straw.

To make your compost you are wanting: manure- teaming with the microbes to kick off digestions, hay or straw- plants that have had a chemical change, and greens- plants that still have sugars and have not been changed into hay or straw yet. A balance is what you want in a perfect world.

Again, we are mostly not dealing with a perfect world.

And I do use hay, and I use manure, filled with bacteria and microbes from the goats digestive system, and the bedding that is filled with manure, urine, and beginning to break down already. I can prove that I use hay, by the amount of grass growing in my beds! I always manage to miss a few seeds when waiting for the grass in the bedding to seed out and die.

But, I refuse to burn the leaves, and they have to be somewhere, so they are in the garden. And I only bring bags of leaves from my yard to set and break down in plastic bags, all the rest of the leaves used in my garden, put themselves there! I don't go looking for them. If I wanted more there is plenty and easy to get, but I don't ever need to go find any.

I have a 4'x4'x3' bin in the garden, it is suppose to be a compost bin, it is full of leaves every year. I also have a boat, that got hit by lightning and cant be repaired in the garden to hold compost, it is also a leaf bin. I am in the process of getting a shredder, then those leaves will get ground and they will break down faster. In the meantime, it is store them, use them, burn them, or bag them up and ship them to landfills. So, I store them in compost bins, until I can use them. And I use too many, and I still can't get ahead of the leaves that fall naturally into my garden.

Will I build a compost pile? NO WAY! And there are many on here who are not going organic, nor will they compost. But if they will just add some humus to their soil, whether it be leaves or hay, straw or grass trimmings, it is still better than creating a dust bowl. And mulching can be done in any situation and it is better than bare soil, whether the mulch is hay, straw, leaves, newspaper, or cardboard! I actually had a man on another forum, tell me to get rid of the leaves, and rocks and chop out those roots and stumps, and get that dirt some air! He was dead serious and raises a great garden.

I do not believe that it is a lack of intelligence, that leads one man to walk one path and another man to walk another. And I do not believe that the plants can only live if you do exactly like person A.
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I don't disagree with your last paragraph there, not one bit. What I disagree with is leaves and straw serving the same ends... one serves fungal and one serves bacterial and those are yin and yang; opposite ends of the spectrum... You are balancing leaves with high bacterial manure inputs, but with all the talk of leaves instead of hay, giving the impression that they are interchangeable. They ain't.

You know better than me if your gardening style is working for you. Fukuoka-sensei is all about the experimentation, observation and adjustment thing and I agree wholeheartedly that there a a lot of ways to get there. But if some first timer comes in here and gets the impression they can pile leaves on their garden and it's going to get better and better, we have just set them up for a world of dissappointment, right?

I always try to assume the baseline user when posting and it sometimes makes the more experienced folks think I am talking down or bashing their technique. OL's longer post before this one shows the tricks and tweaks that make the leaves work for her; she is in effect sheet composting on her beds with both bacterial and fungal inputs. Just leaves will spell doom for veggies (but would be fine for trees and shrubs); just hay or straw is doable, but still wants a little bacterial tweak (compost or manure) for best results, and some leaves in that will not destroy anything...

Where did Einstein find the devil? :wink:

HG
Scott Reil

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Einstein and a devil? Huh? You lost me there.

I did find a video, and this is funny. It is about fish. But, it is also about the whole ecology of what you are doing. Not the intensive thing, the whole overall picture and how it all fits together.

I do take one detour in gardening that just wouldn't work for many folks.
I try to grow a plant, and I try different things, within reason. Then if it won't grow in my conditions... fine I can live without it. I am not trying to turn my woodland growing into a farmers highly productive field that has that fabulous black dirt in it. I am trying to work with nature, what is my nature in my world. And I am not going to -wall- trying to make this soil into something that it isn't. I am going to try to make this soil the best that it can be, within what it is. I hope that makes sense.

I will always have rocks working to the surface, I will always have roots where I don't want them. And I will always have leaves in oversupply, unless a forest fire strips this land, and then, it will grow back, because I will plant it, I will help it grow.

And I will discover what plants I can optimize, not maximize in this soil.
If I love one that just can't handle the acid, or the fungal quality, I know how to use a flower pot! That is a good candidate for aquaculture.

I know many of you have wonderful soil, and you have that black dirt (to die for) please don't try to turn it into woodland soil. You could make just a bucket of woodland soil for something you want to grow in woodland settings.

I accept that I can't grow alot of cold weather crops, my climate doesn't cooperate. So is it worth it to me, to set things so that I can? Depends on what it is would be my answer, and can I find a heat loving replacement.
On another forum, I addressed the issue of summers being too hot for tomatoes and how you have to protect them. Many folks there only grow them as a winter crop. I grow them as a spring crop and as a fall crop of them, I have new plants coming up. I just can't count on spring planted tomatoes to make it till fall and still produce.

Anyhow, here is the video that I found. And I, hopefully, can learn to be like Miguel and not Don in this video.
Enjoy! https://www.ted.com/talks/dan_barber_how_i_fell_in_love_with_a_fish.html
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Great vid OL; I love TED. Check out [url=https://www.ted.com/talks/jamie_oliver.html]Jamie Oliver's TED talk[/url] for a look at why we got so bad at raising food and what to do about it...

I hear ya, and I think we all need to find our own ways, but a lot of people log in here without a clue and are looking for a way to start. We can certainly debate the best way to do things, but the individual newbie isn't looking for debate, they are looking for answers. I simmply try to clarify the options as much as possible, sometimes playing devil's advocate. If you are not polluting my water or air, I do not much care how you garden yourself. But I will try to give people the benefit of my experience to find the best ways to make them successful.

In my experience, hay will always benefit a soil as both mulch and biological amendment; leaves are a good mulch but without further thought about the carbon content, this can create a soil imbalance. The beginner is better served by using hay instead as it is easier and uses less labor and inputs in the long run. Those who wish to put more time and labor into their garden can use inputs at hand...

HG
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We were talking about collecting thatch over in [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=118806#118806]"Ye Olde Farm" thread[/url] the other day. Then today, I was outside looking at some tufts of grass that were taller than others (about 6"~8") -- especially the Orchard Grass and what I keep calling Kentucky Blue but might be just winter rye or something (are they perennial?). I decided to get my Kama (Japanese hand sickle) and "harvest" them for the New Tomato Bed and the New Sunflower& House.

As it turned out, I ended up with A LOT. Enough for 3~4" layer on the NTB which only had a thin 2~3" layer of leaves on it, and 1~2" layer for the larger 1/2 of the NS&H which only has straw on it.

As I was going around cutting these grass, it came to me :idea: -- Grass clippings ARE the hay sub for small-scale gardens like mine. So, WHY should I grow only LAWN GRASS? Why not grow more nutrient dense pasture or hay seed mix in a designated area and allow them to grow much longer (better for preventing matting down, etc.) for harvest and use? I already have the Orchard Grass area, which is along the ENE foundation of the house. The rich dark green of that "Kentucky Blue" make me think it's pretty good source of GREEN so it can just keep on growing there, and I could start a Clover Hay Mix in a sunny dry area.

My lawn grass already has a good distribution of white clover and I get nice clover/grass cuttings mix, but may be I'll overseed with some pasture mix in the backyard play area where I can let the grass grow a little longer.... 8)

I'm also looking at the annual early spring garlic mustard outbreak (3 or 4 pairs of leaves and 2~3" right now) with renewed interest 8) 8). I'll wait until they're a bit bigger to go around "harvesting" them. (I feel like the witch in the Gingerbread House.... :twisted: )

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Good thought! I always have plenty of garlic mustard! (on my wild and unmulched hillside). It usually goes straight on the compost pile. But no reason it couldn't become mulch. Per the reading we've been doing (chapters we aren't supposed to be discussing yet! :) ) I may have been making my veggie beds overly fungal with all the fall leaves and wood chips for mulch. I'm hopefully correcting that a bit with my "direct extract" almost compost tea. Maybe a little later I'll even make some real AACT (though I'm still finding the whole bucket, pump, time it for 36 hrs and use right away, sterilize all the equipment stuff not in real harmony with my lazy gardener, don't-work -too -hard- at -this style). But using more green mulches would be a good thing and not hard at all.
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I am investigating biochar, to see if I can find a constructive way to get rid of more leaves. Also with so many tree tops all around, plus dead trees, I will be overrun with branches and wood, even for burning in my house!
I am studying to see if I could use a container, within the existing woodburner, that is in the hahsa, and perhaps make some biochar. I just don't want burning leaf piles or woodpiles burning, too big of a fire hazzard. But, leaves everywhere is also a fire hazzard, they gotta go somewhere, someway, somehow. And not in a landfill!

Next will be: a use for rocks, that have lovely fossils in them, but really, I am tired of them surfacing in my garden. Perhaps in cement stepping stones? Gotta be something I can do with them!
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I don't grow hay like grasses in the open yard. But I do have about 9 plantings of ornamental grass that I cut down in the spring and save for the compost. This year I saved them for the garden beds. It's not a ton, but pretty much, not sure if you would call them greens or browns but they are there. I never had any problem with weeds though just using them for a compostable.

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Grass is greens, my friend and dried grass is hay. There ya go!

Clippings of lawn grass will have more of a tendency to decompose than straw would; like any other plant there are varying carbon rates from part to part (In trees the leaves are higher in nitrogen than the rest; the twigs a little less so, the branches a little less than the bigger limbs, which are a little less so than the trunk, down to the real carbon storage in the roots) Same with grasses...

But grasses like Miscanthus and such should stick around a while...

HG
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I didn't read all of the posts (ADD tends to kick in at the end of a very long week!) but I think I got the jist of it: I'll be better off if we spread out grass clippings on top of the leaves, let them dry out a little and mix them in? We don't put anything funky on the lawn so I don't have to worry about funky stuff in my veg garden. Or I could get some hay/straw- still an option, keeping my eye on Craig's list and Freecycle.
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