Hay Mulch – Why I will never neglect it again!

I’ve been an organic gardener for over 10 years now. I have always followed the Ruth Stout method of a year-round hay mulch on my garden. Before I had a compost bin, I used to compost kitchen scraps by burying them under the hay mulch. The hay itself  decomposes to keep the soil nourished. The hay also keeps the soil moist in drier weather and, most important of all to a lazy gardener, the hay keeps the weeds from growing.
Hay Bale 1Well, this past year, for a variety of reasons I didn’t “put the garden to bed” in the Fall with a new blanket of hay, nor did I order hay in the Spring for a fresh layer of mulch. I decided to try the green mulch method of Dick Joy. It has worked well so far in the area where I thickly planted green beans – that is, it’s shading the lettuce and also keeping down the weeds between the plants in that bed.

However, in the rest of the garden… the edges of the beds are getting over-run with weeds:

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And it’s making me crazy! As a lazy gardener, who gets eaten alive by the ubiquitous mosquitos at this time of year, I can’t spend too much time out there weeding without getting covered in bites. Yet, looking at my poor veggies being over-run with crabgrassarrowleaf tearthumbasiatic dayflower andclover is so depressing!

This Fall, I’m definitely putting the garden to bed with a heavy layer of hay and in the Spring, I will “tuck in” all my garden beds with a nice thick layer of hay to keep the weeds at bay. Actually, I should probably order some hay right now (we get it from, Castle Hill Farm) so I can save myself weeding for the rest of the summer.

Do you have any secrets to keeping weeding to a minimum? I would love to hear them.


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