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January 11, 2013

STRAW BALES

Posted by Anais Dervaes

"Happiness does not consist in pastimes and amusements but in virtuous activities. "

~Aristotle

Growing up in the country, I remember a lot of things about my early childhood on our 10 acres Florida homestead--jumping from hay bales in my neighbor's barn (and sometimes ending with egg on my pants!), eating oranges fresh from the trees, getting fresh milk from our goat, Molly Jo. But, most of all, I remember Grandpa. How could I forget him? He was a quite a character.  Although he lived in a posh neighborhood of Tampa on one beautiful acre filled with lush tropical plants and oak trees, he was really so very down to earth because he literally "dug the earth" when he wasn't being an executive.  His yard was a showcase of his love for plants and, oh, so beautiful.

I remember how he would be dressed in his blue overalls and go around his fancy neighborhood collecting the black plastic bags full of freshly raked oak leaves by the neighbors' gardeners.  For him, it was a great find and he never could understand how such riches, destined for the trash heap, could be so ill-regarded and quickly discarded as if it were, well, trash. All he could think of was how wonderful it was that everyone had packaged the "mulch" he was going to use for his yard so neatly and for FREE!

This addiction really took hold on our family.  So much so, that I recall going around our small town of Dade City/San Antonio  FL  in our little yellow LUV truck keeping our eyes peeled during a certain time of the year when the city folk were so anxious to get rid of the mess their oak tress had made on their manicured lawns. Sitting alongside of the road at the curb were those priceless black plastic garbage bags full of "gold" which we carried home to our garden.  For some reason, this was great fun for us kids and the addiction has been with us ever since.

When we arrived in Pasadena, we were stunned that no one seemed to mulch anything and we surmised that it had to do with the lack of rain, thus the lack of weeds as we had in Florida.  But that didn't stop us and we mulched anyway--everything--but the decaying process was so much slower than in Florida due to the dry weather here.

We are always on the look out for (free) mulch and tree trimmings.   Last week, lo and behold, Justin spots on Craig's list 45 free bales of straw!  Whoa--nelly.  That's a LOTTA straw.   Now we have so much mulch we are mulch happy! Should we host a Hoe Down... maybe a Straw Bale house?  haha

Much of the straw will be used in the garden pathways and for bedding for the animal compound.

We also have plans to use them in a music video ("Hee Haw" here we come) with some musician friends, so stay tuned!

What do you use for mulch in your neck of the woods?  Do your family/neighbors think you are crazy for having heaps of mulch on your homestead?

:: Resources ::

Seasoned Straw Mulch

 


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4 Comments: "STRAW BALES" »

  1. Is any of that straw edible for the goats? Do you have room to put that straw in your backyard? How long does if take for straw to become mulch? Good luck with your endeavors with the free straw.

  2. Anais, oh, ya, my neighbors think I'm a bit eccentric. This last October I cruised the neighborhood with my trusty little Ford Ranger in the middle of the night before yard waste pickup and sneaked off with about 100 bags of grass/leaf mixture every week for six weeks. The total count was 694 bags of mulch. I spread it out on my garden about a foot deep. I figure I hauled about 8.5 tons of mulch. Next spring I'll be planting right through the mulch. Just spread back the mulch to reach the dirt and plant the seeds. I'm hoping it will bury the weed problem I had last year and create tons (pun intended) of compost. I plan on doing it again this fall.

    Stay warm, hear the cold is coming to your area.

  3. Have you considered straw bale gardening?...You basically wet the bales and add a nitrogen source like manure or blood meal and then water that in. After about 6 weeks the straw decomposes and you plant into it.

    Here is a site explaining it:
    http://www.no-dig-vegetablegar.....ening.html

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