Allergy season is upon me, with the main culprit being grass and hay. Our city is surrounded by farmlands and dry mountains covered in grasses, so there is no escaping it. But, that is not what this post is about. Rather, our hay fever, is about all the areas we have decided to use hay.
We know that the hay has always helped conserve water and help keep the weeds down around the tomato bases, so we decided to use it in a few more areas.
The strawberries were out of control last year. Between multiplying to a jungle-thickness with their creeper vines, and then being thoroughly infested with spiders, we decided we wanted to try and cut back on both those things. Also, those beds are getting filled with weeds, no matter how much we work to keep them clean. So, we decided to experiment and put down hay. We lowered the irrigation to less of a spray and more of a drip to see if we could conserve a bit more water in that area. So far, it has been working great. It has been a month, and there are definitely less weeds, no creeper vines and less spiders than normal. I am ok with a few spiders to keep the other bugs that want to eat our strawberries away, but I also don’t want the strawberry towers to become an apartment high-rise for hundreds of spiders…I still need to stick my hands in those areas to get my strawberries!
We improved our harvest of potatoes last year. We think that was mostly because we didn’t accidentally kill the tops of the plant by putting boards up too early and cutting it off from lots of sunlight. That being said, we also mixed hay in with dirt last year to give a little more space for the potatoes to grow easily. This year, we are adjusting that ratio further, and doing mostly hay with a bit of soil for nutrients and rooting. So far the plants are growing happy and strong. Hopefully we see our harvest increase later this summer.
Our raised beds are almost growing more weeds than plants these days. In the one raised bed, it is mostly carrots, so I can’t use hay for fear of killing them before they really get started. Those tiny little leaves that first break the soil need all the sunlight they can get, and the hay would hinder that, so we are still weeding that bed. Our other raised bed however has our pepper plants, squash plant and cucumber plant. We decided to put some hay down around those plants to see if we could conserve a little water and help stop some of the weeds from growing. So far, so good.
I only wish I had thought to use more of this hay in the last few years, but better late than never!