The Truth about Straw Bales

I mentioned my dilemma about the straw bales. Did I have the right fertilizer? For that matter, did I have the right bales? We bought them from two different places last fall, and it seemed like one might have labeled the bales Straw when they were really Hay.

Hay? Straw? I’m a city girl, despite my green thumb and green attitude. I didn’t know straw from hay. So I did what a good virtual teacher does; I asked a student and her family for advice.

My students live all over Wisconsin, and several live on farms. I asked about the bales, describing the one set as looking straw-like and the other growing like a Chia Pet.

One of these things is not like the other.

One of these things is not like the other.

I learned that straw is what’s left over after the wheat is harvested and removed from the stalk, and hay is a grass. Yep, that’s it. I can extend this to say I learned not to buy a bale of “straw” at a grocery store. Uh-huh. This batch was left over from a fall display, so the store sold them off for a few bucks each. The rest are from a garden center. I know where I’ll go if I need a set of straw bales again.

Meanwhile, I took time to yank most of the growth from the hay bales. They’ll still work for planting; I just might have to weed them more often than not. And that’s alright. Weeding, after all, is therapeutic, too.

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2 thoughts on “The Truth about Straw Bales

  1. Straw is simply a byproduct to get rid of. It is basically used for bedding for animals. Animals cannot eat straw for sustenance. I recommend marsh hay. It is a heavier product and has protein to add to the soil, but is seedless. I recommend straw for nativity scenes and making bricks. It makes the bricks nice and strong.

    Hay is not good for nativity scenes because the animals will eat it. Because straw is hollow it has a good insulating value to keep the nativity scene warm.

    If you are on the farm and you get a chance to bale straw or hay—- choose the straw. The bales of straw are 1/2 the weight of hay. I get my straw from my Amish friends in Waupauca.

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