ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Use Straw for Garden Cover

Updated on January 30, 2013
Source

Introduction

The weather outside is definitely cold in most of the Northern Hemisphere right now and there is little gardening going on. But, shortly those that like to start early gardens will begin their preparations for the new year. This will include working in the bed or garden plot to prep the soil, adding compost or fertilizers, and starting early plants like lettuce and broccoli. Another action that some gardeners use to begin their season early and to extend their fall crops is using straw as a ground cover.

How to Use Straw

If you decide to use straw in your garden, keep in mind it's best used as a mulch. Spread a good layer of mulch, about 2-6 inches (5-15 cm) in depth, over your garden area. This may be done just in the rows or across the garden so that it can be worked into the soil. As you begin planting sprouts or seeds, pull back the straw and plant the plants or seeds as you would normally. After planting replace the straw and water thuroughly.

Why Straw

So what's the big deal about straw and why should you use it in your garden? Straw has several beneficial characteristics that make it a good gardening material; this includes insulation, water retention, creates a good top environment to things like worms, and a source of carbon.

Straw's use as an insulation maybe the most beneficial property and the reason why many gardeners use it during early spring and late fall. Straw acts as an insulation in several ways. First, its pithy, which means it has innumerable air pockets to trap air. This trapped air is warmed by the sun and remains warm even during the night. This allows plants to stay warmer even during periods of cool weather. This can extend the growing seasons of plants by several weeks even in areas that have bitter cold winters.

This can benefit cool weather plants which include: broccoli, cauliflower, kale, lettuces and carrots. Furthermore, in some areas warmer weather crops such as tomatoes and squash can be planted earlier because of the added protection.

Straw is also good for water retention and again, in part, to its pith. These air pockets can also trap water after irrigation or rainfall and allow water to slowly be absorbed into the soil. Straw in the garden also slows water evaporation from the soil through solar heat. This allows gardeners to reduce the amount of water used and the frequency of watering.

Straw also creates cover for worms and other beneficial garden organisms. Worms, for example, help keep soil loose for good root growth and they feed on material in the soil. This also increases soil fertility.

Finally, straw used in gardens can be a good source of carbon when if it is eventually tilled into the soil. As the straw composts and decomposes it releases into and replenishes the soils lost carbon stock. Furthermore, it can be used to amend high clay soils that may clump.

Negative Straw Attributes

While there are many benefits to straw there are a few negative attributes as well. First, unless you know local cereal farmers straw can be expensive, somewhere around $7 USD a bale is not out of the question. It can also create habitats for garden pests as well including slugs. Finally, straw can be somewhat abrasive and scratch the skin when you work with it and therefore you may want to consider wearing gloves and long sleeves when working with it. However, the pros of using straw as a garden cover vastly outweigh the cons.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • LagunaAlkaline profile image

      Amanda 

      5 years ago from Camas, WA

      Thanks for this hub! I learned a lot about straw in gardens! I may use straw for my raised garden bed. Voted up and Useful!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)