– a useful composting ingredient.
If you are looking for some variety in the compost ingredients for your bin or pile and if you can lay your hands on some composting straw, you are blessed indeed. I am missing the fallen leaves that I used to boost my carbon in autumn and winter, so now it is summer, it is great to have found an alternative.
Composting straw is better than hay as it does not contain the seeds that tend to be in the latter. Thus you can cheerfully put it into your cold compost pile. No need to worry about an unwanted crop in your garden when you finally spread the end result! It is a great aerator, keeping channels open to allow oxygen and moisture to easily penetrate your pile and it makes an excellent mulch.
In bales it can be used as the base and sides of a raised garden or a compost bin, and there has even been a urinal designed using this useful commodity.
Another plus is found in its insulating properties, the extra warmth generated by its bulk assisting in plant growth, the decay of waste and, in worm composting, keeping worms alive in cold weather.
I was visiting a riding stables last week and was lucky enough to be offered ‘as much straw as you like’ and I was also given free access to the muck heap. I said ‘no thanks’ to the muck heap as I want to be a bit better organised when I venture down that path, but I was thrilled to be able to get into the straw. I had a choice of fresh, unused stuff or the waste that had been ‘mucked out’ from the horses’ stalls. That was full of urine and a few choice samples of ‘muck’ so I chose it as I figured the extra bits could only add value.
It came home in a load of garden bags that I keep in the boot of the car for windfalls such as this and some immediately went to the worms. Some I added to my compost bin and the rest I have left in the bags to be dealt with later.
So far, the worms seem to be really enjoying the feast and the bin stuff is settling nicely along with the food scraps already there. Next week, I shall add a bucket of cured bokashi to the mix and that should set everything off with a hiss and a roar.
Just one thing to consider is that using it in large quantities in your compost or on your garden as a mulch, may mean you need to add some nitrogen to your soil or compost to balance out the carbon. Animal manure or a green manure is a good choice for your compost, which is why I chose the straw with ‘additives’.
Remember that you should not add fresh manure to your plants directly though.
So much to remember…….