What the hay?

– Posted in: Miscellaneous, Recommended Links

Often gardeners are encouraged to mulch with straw, especially for food crops like, um, strawberries. Too often, the gardener, severed from his or her agricultural roots, mulches with hay instead. In Missed stacks and mistakes: distinguishing between hay and straw and other heaps, Alan Ritch explains the difference:

Hay, of course, is fodder for the animals; and straw is the inedible waste-product remaining after the grains have been beaten from it.

These days, hay comes from tractor-mown fields which may have originally been sown to timothy or alfalfa, but may have degenerated to something closer to a mown meadow; there are usually oodles of weed seeds in hay. Straw is the stems remaining after grain has been harvested. While no grain field is completely weed-free, it is in the grower’s interest to keep the weeds out as much as possible, and what weed seeds there are presumably would be included with the grain and not the stems. Hence, straw is what you want for your garden.

Hay in Art documents Ritch’s obsession with the agricultural commodity, and is worth a visit even if your interest is purely theoretical. History, art, literature, religion–it’s all here, and it’s all about hay.

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

Now, the digging and dividing of perennials, the general autumn cleanup and the planting of spring bulbs are all an act of faith. One carries on before the altar of delayed gratification, until the ground freezes and you can’t do any more other than refill the bird feeder and gaze through the window, waiting for the snow. . . . Meanwhile, it helps to think of yourself as a pear tree or a tulip. You will blossom spectacularly in the spring, but only after the required period of chilling.

~Adrian Higgins in The Washington Post, November 6, 2013

Comments on this entry are closed.

Kathy Purdy October 1, 2006, 3:41 pm

We didn’t get frost, either. This is the second false alarm we’ve had, and both times, fog was our salvation. It got down to 35F, though, a close call.

Carol September 30, 2006, 4:29 am


Hay, Alan R. makes my little tiny Hoe obsession look like nothing! His site is very interesting as well. Hay Life List? Hmmmm,,, I wonder what people would say if I had a Hoe Life List? I might give that a try.

Hope your frost wasn’t too bad. No frost here, and no forecasted frost for awhile.

As always, enjoying your blog, even if I don’t comment on every post…