What straw/hay is safe?

solarnoon.aspen Posts: 219 ✭✭✭
edited November 2020 in Pest & Weed Problems/Solutions

I was buying some large round hay bales from a farmer and he commented on some straw he saw that I had just mulched onto my food garden beds. He said that the pure golden flawless looking strands indicate that it had been sprayed just before harvest to make sure that the grains all dry at the same time.

I know about this practice and I steer as wide a berth around grains as I can, using only whole grains that are certified organic (if THAT even makes a difference these days), then milling or flaking them at the point of use.

But for the hay I feed the rabbits, and the straw that we use for multiple reasons, I can't seem to get straight answers about HOW it was grown. I had asked the person I bought these bales from.

The reason I grow my own food is because I am trying to avoid additives, including sprays, hormones, emulsifiers, stabilizers - whatever seems necessary in the system that has been created to deliver food to people. BUT, I can't seem to get around it......most farmers find it convenient to spray.

It is sad


  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,282 admin

    I'm sorry to have t say it... but we either have to grow our own or partner with a like -minded person. Most farmers don't just find it convenient to spray... they can't get crop insurance and federal monetary "help" without utilizing "best practices'... which are basically protocols written by the chemical ag companies.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,210 admin

    @solarnoon.aspen I agree with @judsoncarroll4. I agree with you as well. Dessication is all too common. We comment on the fields just before/as they ripen. Some are absolutely stunning and ripe...but they still spray them. It turns these fields into an odd colored "finished" sickly looking crop.

    I would suggest looking for a certified organic grower. They should be fully honest with you about their growing practices.

  • solarnoon.aspen
    solarnoon.aspen Posts: 219 ✭✭✭

    I agree, I will have to go further away to find an organic grower. I know there are some around. They are sought after so not always available.

    Thing is, according to some people I speak to, even organic is a floating target. So many products are labelled in this way, but, they say, it's often a sham. Marketing.

    Do I sound jaded?

  • greyfurball
    greyfurball Posts: 591 ✭✭✭✭

    I happen to be lucky and I do have a certified organic farmer within a few miles of me so what I don't make myself, I can go to him and buy some of his supplies. With him, he is also very cautious and he doesn't even use the chemicals which are labelled as "can be used in an organic farm operation."

    My recommendation, find a smaller farmer, not a large scale operation. The reason, the large scale operations are often growing for an exclusive market (like restaurants, schools, retail stores etc.) These operations usually do use the chemicals approved for organic operations which is just gobbledgook saying it's OK to use these chemicals.

    The other thing I have noticed, find one you believe you can trust and use them consistently for your purchases. You are building up a repoirre with him/her and you will soon find you can ask any and all questions and they will be OK answering your questions. You just have to build up a trust with them and then they will return it to you.

    And unfortunately, when I was first starting out trying to find organic supplies, I always did my own research first before I went shopping and tried to familiarize myself with what I should ask and what answers I should look for.

    It's unfortunate we have to do this before we shop but if you seem to know the right questions and answers you will get more honest answers right from the start.

    There is no easy way to find a farmer you can trust and who will give you the answers you want to hear but with me, I just found a small local farmer which grows because it is "God's wish for him and his family" and so we both pretty much think and act the cleanest way we possibly can to achieve our yearly harvest.

  • solarnoon.aspen
    solarnoon.aspen Posts: 219 ✭✭✭


    Thanks. YEs, I believe that is what I will have to do in the future. At least I was able to scrape most of the tainted straw off , although there is tons of dust left that I can't remove.

  • SandraKay
    SandraKay Posts: 23 ✭✭✭

    I know that you recommend not doing straw bale gardening, but this year I just had to try- straw purchased was locally grown and pesticide free.  I found it works like they say but since I have a large area for gardening, it's not worth the price for my needs- Here in AZ just the straw is $14-15 a bale.  I got 5 bales and put them end to end and followed all the organic recommendations for fertilizing.  Everything is growing ok, but I'm going to use them next year for compost only-  If I was not able to bend much it might be worth it for the height.  Has anyone else tried it?  I've also dabbled with the method by Ruth Stout in "the no work gardening method' she was the first (in the1930s to use hay (not straw) to compost and not have to dig.  I found her book delightful.  She says why use manure when you can get the same things that cause the manure by using the hay and leaving the middle man (cattle) out of the equation.  She says if the hay starts to sprout, just flip it over (she put down a heavy layer). I got the book a year ago and I've been incorporating it into my eccentric method (hodgepodge) of gardening.  I've found her methods work very well with ideas off of this forum.

     Well, anyway- I went and laid a bunch of the hay around where I put the straw and I will extend my garden there for my fall planting.