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In the countryside of course but also in the city, the use of straw represents an undeniable asset in the garden, especially in winter. In summer, boots can even become a very interesting support for crops ... Without forgetting other uses, leisure and decoration in particular. Straw is a natural protector of bare soil, against cold and drought. In general, it makes the gardener's task easier, as Brigitte Lapouge-Déjean sums it up perfectly in her excellent work The Living Earth Guide - Planning and flowering your garden : "Mulching takes a little time, but only advantages! The soil remains alive, loose, inhabited by earthworms, microorganisms, fungi that work for us. No more weed emergence, no more need to hoe regularly, water care will be reduced (…) and the mulch will decompose slowly to feed the plants smoothly, improve the structure of the soil and dispense with carrying a few buckets of compost ".
Straw: a multifunctional dry material
Its first use is therefore that of mulching at the base of plants and vegetables. Nature-loving do-it-yourselfers also use straw to make insect shelters, and more specifically, a shelter for earwigs - a handful in an upturned terracotta pot, and voila (all the details of this DIY in the book cited above). And why not also make an insulated garden shed in straw? Finally, it is also possible to create a vegetable garden or an entire garden on straw bales, or even use them during a picnic in a chic country style to receive your guests for a brunch: 'Paille d'Or trophy 'assured!
Mulching for professionals and individuals
The mulching method is increasingly encouraged among professionals as well as individuals. In the Clisson company, for example, a group specializing in the production of potatoes, the vegetables are worked under mulch. "This certainly requires good preparation upstream, on a loosened ground, but the investment is largely profitable then, describes Bruno Bataille, the CEO: the straw allows less watering in summer, avoids having to butter the potatoes and the harvest is also easier. We do not forget to mulch the feet again after each harvest: moreover, it is a pleasure to have a clean and visually pleasing garden… This yellow is pretty pretty! "In your garden, you can of course adopt this technique: mulch and plant in anyone. And you will gain 30% in surface!
Mulching: excellent for the vegetable patch!
"I have been using the various mulches for 30 years, and the straw itself is one of the best, especially that of wheat or barley, says agronomist and landscaper Eric Leboucher - there are also hemp, miscanthus … Straw is the first material that constitutes manure on farms (for cattle, horses, etc.), it is an ecological and sustainable alternative perfect for eradicating the plastic film from our gardens, allowing plants and their roots to breathe, it does not represent an obstacle between the different elements of nature (underlayers and overlayers of the earth, air, plants), and it breaks down quickly, which is good for your soils. "
Culture on straw bales
It is an innovative method which is already meeting with great success in the United States and which arrives in France with Joël Karsten's book, Gardening on bales of straw : little soil, little water and little care. The author praises this "simple, economical and ecological method, within everyone's reach, which offers many advantages and values this versatile material: antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral. A solution that can be installed everywhere, provided there is sunlight and water ... So even on asphalt, in a parking lot, on a terrace! "To do this: arrange the boots so as to obtain the desired shape, according to the configuration of your garden and your preferences. The author recommends in particular basic models of 5 U-shaped boots (for one person), then 10 (from 4 people), 15 or even 20 boots in rows. It will then be enough to dig them and cultivate inside to use them as planters ... Clever and original! Find in the book all the details and tips: what fertilizer to use, what to grow there, the tools necessary to properly install this revolutionary and ancestral culture at the same time, the conditioning of boots, the techniques of planting and crops according to vegetables and the flowers chosen, the specific contributions of the straw for the well-being of the plants, until harvest time and the post-harvest straw treatment… He even concludes with a very complete question and answer and sheets per plant . What if straw bale gardening becomes the new trend in above-ground cultivation? It is interesting in a large garden as in a small city space.
Precautions to take
"In the spring, mulching can lead to a hunger for nitrogen, warns Pierre-Alexandre Risser. The plants then no longer have enough nitrogen, essential for their good development. The simple solution: make a supply of dried blood in the spring and fall. " Also be careful to choose your organic straw or boots, to best respect your little corner of nature ... Select a straw that suits you in terms of decomposition time, depending on the use you want to make of it: for example straws barley, oats or flax decompose faster than hemp or miscanthus, and the longest-lived is wheat straw. Finally, do not confuse straw and hay: the second is less rich in minerals and organic matter!
Yes to local straw!
If you live in the city, today you can buy straw in some garden centers, but you risk paying for a natural material that you could easily find if on the contrary you live or you have the opportunity to go to the countryside: try asking the neighboring farmer. Think rather local and green! To read : - Gardening on bales of straw , Joël Karsten, Rustica editions, € 19.95. - The Living Earth Guide - Planning and flowering your garden , Brigitte Lapouge-Déjean and Denis Pépin, Terre Vivante editions, € 35. Thanks : - Pierre-Alexandre Risser (Horticulture & Gardens), - Eric Leboucher (Landscape Consulting), - Brigitte Lapouge-Déjean (Les Jardins de l'Albarède), - Bruno Bataille (Groupe Clisson).