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Major Areas :: Dryland Agriculture :: Organic Mulching
Straw Mulching

An organic mulch is made up of natural substance such as bark, wood chips, pine needles, dry grasses, paddy straw, dry leaves,saw dust, grass clipping, etc. But organic mulch attracts insects, slugs and the cutworms that eat them. They get decomposed easily and need frequent replacements.

Paddy and wheat straw are the commonest mulching materials used for fruit and vegetable production. Though straw is poor in nutrient value but after decomposition, it makes soil more fertile. Among organic mulching materials, straw has a long life in comparison to other mulches (grasses, leaves and leaf mould).

Straw Adds Nitrogen

Soil that lacks nitrogen can cause problems for many plants and trees. Lucerne hay that comes from mown alfalfa breaks down easily and adds nitrogen to the soil as it does so, helping to nourish your plants. Some wood chip mulches can actually pull nitrogen from the soil and should be used with care.

Straw Prevents Weeds

A layer of straw mulch inhibits weed growth. The best mulch to fit this purpose is Lucerne hay from alfalfa or meadow hay that has been composted to kill weed seeds.

Straw is Convenient

Straw mulching is a great alternative to regular soil tilling with a rotary tiller. Tillers can be heavy, difficult to control, and time consuming to use.

Once you apply this organic mulch, you're probably done for the growing season. In most cases, you won't have to reapply straw mulch unless winds scattered much of it soon after it was spread. Straw mulch is extremely easy to work with. You can mold it and pull it apart to make rows and holes for planting. It is also very comfortable to kneel or sit on as you work, unlike jagged wood chip mulch.

To start, put on your gardening gloves and conceptualize where you want your straw. Pull three-inch-thick sections off of the bale, fluff, and apply 2-3 inches deep. Keeping the straw layer fluffy allows air and rain to penetrate. You can mulch any time of year, but the straw will be most useful in the summer for moisture retention and heat protection. This is a fun and easy project for gardeners at any level of expertise

Straw has few Potential Problems

As organic mulch, the biggest problem straw is likely to cause is sprouting. Depending on when you purchase or acquire your mulch, there could be weed seeds mixed in with the straw. Straw made from meadow hay will often contain these seeds which can cause a weed problem, one of the problems you're trying to prevent with the mulch in the first place. Opt for cereal straw or Lucerne hay (which comes from alfalfa) to avoid this problem, or choose meadow hay that has been composted first. Straw from cereal crops may contain some grain seeds that sprout once the mulch is spread.


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