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Avatar for mcm
Aug 9, 2015 8:33 PM CST
Name: Matt Morian
Jasper, tx. (Zone 8b)
I am interested in using hay as a mulch/ground cover in our row crop garden. I know it makes veg. gardens look pretty for a photo, but how practical is it? I'm concerned about grass and weed seeds, of which I already have problem. Any thoughts?
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Aug 9, 2015 8:39 PM CST
Name: Bob
Vernon N.J. (Zone 6a)
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Use straw not hay . Hay has seed which straw does not.
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Aug 9, 2015 9:14 PM CST
Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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I agree Straw is what you want to use. (I learned this the hard way. Sad )

Just as a bit of insurance, we learned to spread the straw out in the paved driveway for a day or two (when no rain was predicted) to allow the birds to eat any stray weed seeds which may have tagged along in the bale. Thumbs up
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~"Leaf of Faith"
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Aug 9, 2015 9:54 PM CST
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Welcome to All Things Plants, @mcm !

I totally agree with not using hay... learn from our mistakes Whistling
“Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight." ~ Albert Schweitzer /
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Avatar for porkpal
Aug 10, 2015 8:56 AM CST
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX (Zone 9a)
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A good quality Bermuda Grass hay, for example, should have no seeds and is less water proof than straw.
Porkpal
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Aug 10, 2015 9:05 AM CST
Name: Ken Ramsey
Vero Beach, FL (Zone 10a)
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Pork, I know absolutely nothing about farming, so consider this question is coming from a dummy. Why wouldn't Bermuda grass not have seed? My lawn is Bermuda and from June till fall, there are lots of seed heads present at every mowing. Is Bermuda grown as hay different than my lawn grass?
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Avatar for porkpal
Aug 10, 2015 10:55 AM CST
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX (Zone 9a)
Cat Lover Charter ATP Member Keeper of Poultry I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Dog Lover Keeps Horses
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- Because the conscientious hay farmer cuts it before it goes to seed and loses nutritive value.
Porkpal
Avatar for Frillylily
Aug 10, 2015 11:16 AM CST
Missouri (Zone 6a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier
Hay I understand is a first cutting and contains all the seed heads, or 'grains' and that is nutritious for livestock.
The straw is a second cutting, of the stems part after some regrowth. (?) and does not contain matured seed heads. Therefore if you use hay, you will get lots of sprouts (weeds to your garden) and straw does not have that.
I use straw and I love it. I primarily use oat straw I buy at Lowes. I have Bermuda grass lawn and I HATE it really bad. Very invasive tough weed. Practically impossible to kill, I just try to control it at best. Even straw will have some viable seeds here and there. I would never purposely use anything that might maybe be contaminated with Bermuda seed. If you put the straw on in the fall, you may have to re-apply some in the late spring. usually spring and fall I lay some down. It looks a little 'raw' at first but in a couple weeks it settles in and looks nice. I just use mulch around the front of the house where I want a more formal look and the straw goes in my backyard.
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Aug 10, 2015 11:23 AM CST
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Bee Lover Butterflies Birds I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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Frilly, straw comes from grain crops such as oats and wheats -- after the grain is harvested the stems become the "straw." Hay is grown from other plants, mostly alfalfa and Timothy up here. As Porkpal pointed out, the hay is cut before the plants go to seed because it's more nutritious.

I actually think the amount of seeds in hay or straw would depend mainly on how many weeds were growing in the field and not as much whether it's hay or straw... maybe Porkpal or someone else can give us an opinion on that thought. Smiling
“Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight." ~ Albert Schweitzer /
C/F temp conversion
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Aug 10, 2015 11:44 AM CST
Name: Deb
Planet Earth (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Master Level
The local farmers in my area harvest 'grass hay' which is 2-3 cuttings of whatever our local pasture grass consists of. When we kept large animals, it was always a bit of a race to get the hay cut 'before it headed out.'
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Avatar for mcm
Aug 10, 2015 12:18 PM CST
Name: Matt Morian
Jasper, tx. (Zone 8b)
Thanks to all "repliers"! My thoughts and your answers are matching up.
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