Straw Substitute - Knowledgebase Question

Chicago, IL
Question by erickson_des
June 4, 1998
We have read about the assets of using straw for fruits and vegetables. Particularly with strawberries and squashes. The problem is we can't find any straw in our area. Is there somewhere we can order from or something else we can use? Do you recommend straw for these plants?


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Answer from NGA
June 4, 1998

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I use old hay ("mulch hay") which I can usually get from local farmers. You can also use discarded corrugated cardboard, or even several thicknesses of newspaper, to get the same benefits. (It's not so attractive, though.) These will begin to decompose by the endof the growing season. I would avoid using bark chips, because they can be sharp and damage developing fruits. Also, be aware that fresh hay can contain weed seeds, which will essentially "seed" your garden to grass!

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