Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Using Wood Shavings In Garden vs Straw

I love a neat and tidy garden.  It isn't always the case with me, but I try to keep the weeds pulled and mulch around the base of my vegetables and flowers.  I have found that if I put straw under my cucumber plants, the cucumbers grow straight and have less blemishes on them.
After weeding and raking up all the weeds, it is a very satisfying to spread out the straw around the base of the tomatoes or flowers knowing the job is done. (Unfortunately, when I let the chickens in the gardens, they love to scatter it all over the place looking for bugs).  Part of my working tools in the back of my Gator is always a broom.  To sweep back the straw around the bottom of the plants.
I have noticed, that some of my STRAW still has seeds it it which causes the following year to produce more weeds.  A couple of years ago, many articles were written to re-cycle grass when mowing out into your gardens for mulch and weed control.  I did that, but boy was that a mistake!!!  Do NOT use grass.  Put it in your mulch pile, not in your gardens.  I never had so many weeds as when I used the lawn grass in my gardens.  It was as if I seeded my gardens with lawn seed!!!
This year I decided to try something different.  I purchase animal shaving for the chicken house.  The price of the shavings was comparable to the straw and I thought, no seeds!!!  And the smell is wonderful; and good for mixing with the soil at the end of the year; AND a good moisture control around the base of the plants.
I purchased 6 bales of wood shavings and 2 bales of straw and I am experimenting around my gardens.  I still used the straw under my cucumbers and around the base of the beans.  But around the base of my tomatoes, peppers and half of the dahlias, I am using the wood shavings.

So far, the weed control is about the same; but the wood shavings are not producing NEW weeds due to seeds.  The straw is helping with keeping weeds down, BUT it is also creating some new types of weeds from the seeds left in the straw.
At first, I thought the wood shavings might break down too fast and be a waste of money, but so far, they are holding up and continue to provide good bedding.  
I wondered if the shavings did keep moisture into the soil and so far, it appears to me that it does.  
I pulled away the dry shavings from the base of the plant and found that the soil was still moist.

All in all I think I will continue to use the bedding shavings.  I am liking it very much, especially around my flowers.  
Having the flower beds look as nice as the flowers do, is important to me.  I do have classes here at the farm, where we might go out and cut flowers to do an arrangement class.  I do have potential flower customers who are looking for wedding or event flowers, go out into our rows to look at blooming flowers and the better the rows looks, the more clients I may get too!!
Wood Shavings versus Straw???  A little of both is my choice.

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