Follow up Intro to Practical Permaculture Nov 3/4, 2007
Since it is supposed to rain Saturday, I mulched the swale our class built with barley straw. The straw had been sitting around since the beginning of the summer, so it was a little wet and decomposed, (just perfect) and I am excited to tell you, there were mushrooms growing out of it. I will post photos soon on my website.
Which reminds me…in case I didn’t say this at the class.
My old permaculture partner, Bill Steen who went on to write The Straw Bale House did an experiment. He had an old rock-hard clay driveway in “the stinkin desert.” He set out a bale of alfalfa (whole, just one bale sitting there). About 6 months later when I was visiting, he told me to come take a look. The “stinkin desert” under the bale had transformed and you could put your hand down 8 inches into soft sweet soil, FULL OF WORMS.
If you are not sure where to start, set out some bales of alfalfa.
As a reminder,
Hay usually refers to alfalfa, which is a nitrogen fixer, or some type of tasty grass.
Straw is the dried plant leftover after threshing the grain. Could be barley, wheat, rice, oats, etc.
Both have seeds, despite what you read. Some people say straw doesn’t have seeds, but the barley straw had barley babies sprouting out of it.
In my mind, alfalfa hay is my favorite input when you working on rehabing abused soil, doing an initial sheet mulch, or starting a planting area.
Straw is great for general mulch until you get your mulch plants up and ready to be harvested.
When you get projects going, let me know. Take pictures. I would love to post them to my website.