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  • Hay vs Leaves as Insulation

    I have access to both bails of hay and bags of dry leaves. It may actually be straw not sure how to tell. I am going to be covering my outdoor trees soon and was wondering what would be a better insulatimg material. I have only used leaves in the past and it has worked fine but this year also have hay available. Any thoughts or experiences would be appreciated. Thanks.
    Last edited by lifigs; 12-02-2016, 07:49 AM.
    Bill - Long Island, NY 7a
    Wish List: Glacia Negra and any fig from Bari.

  • #2
    I always felt they were interchangeable. Leaves and straw that is, not hay

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    • #3
      Leaves, straw and hay would all make good insulation.
      As long as it stays dry, leaves would insulate well, but some types can pack down if wet.
      The same goes for hay but straw can stay more "fluffy" and keep open pockets letting air circulate when wet and would dry out faster then hay.

      Knowing the differences between straw and hay
      Straw - golden in color and has a stiff texture and used for animal bedding and mulch
      Hay - green in color with a soft texture and used for horse and goat feed
      Leaves - self explanatory πŸ™‚ I have too many of them that pile up against the garage.
      Liked when on the tree, hated when they fall.
      Wishlist; Green Michurinska, St. Rita
      Tony
      Sarver, PA Zone 6A.

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      • lifigs
        lifigs commented
        Editing a comment
        Thanks for the info. I definetly have straw.

    • #4
      If it ain't broke don't fix it πŸ˜‰ If leaves working in past keep it going.
      Zone 5 Chicago IL Wish list:
      1) Rest peacfully Amico Bello Buddy πŸ‘ΌπŸΌ.
      2) This weeks ebay auctions.

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      • #5
        Thanks guys. Leaves have always provided good insulation for me but I do get some settling by the Spring leaving some of the taller branches just protected with burlap. I may try alternating layers of straw and leaves.
        Bill - Long Island, NY 7a
        Wish List: Glacia Negra and any fig from Bari.

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        • #6
          It is easy enough to tell hay from straw. Hay is simply grass that is cut, dried and baled. You will (or may) see seed head tops in hay if it is orchard hay or timothy hay.....,but basically if it is dull colored, looks like cut dried soft grass it is hay. Straw is the stems of grain crops such as oats, it is more rigid, many times the stems will be more shiny and won't contain grass type leaves or tops.
          Cutting sales will start Tuesday Nov 1 at 9:00 eastern

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          • lifigs
            lifigs commented
            Editing a comment
            Mine is definitely straw. Don't have much experience with hay / straw in the burbs. We only see it when people use it for fall decorations outside there homes. My cousins upstate laugh that we pay $8 for three died corn stalks as decorations.

          • drew51
            drew51 commented
            Editing a comment
            I go around and collect that straw after Halloween, and Christmas on trash day. I usually have all kinds. It's a low grade straw with some seeds, it's free, so i deal with it. I need to cover my strawberries as well, and I have a lot of strawberries to cover.

        • #7
          Originally posted by lifigs View Post
          Thanks guys. Leaves have always provided good insulation for me but I do get some settling by the Spring leaving some of the taller branches just protected with burlap. I may try alternating layers of straw and leaves.
          Straw does tend to stay in place a little better. I also shred my leaves, so the fit is much tighter than with straw.

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          • #8
            the neighbor was throwing out a bag with mixed grass clippings and leaves
            i used it all for my fruit trees.
            often in the fall i drive around looking for something like that ... LOL

            from what ive read, leaves make excellent mulch.
            they break down and release minerals and organic matter back into the soil.
            and the more diversity the better.
            i have some fruit trees with 7 or 8 different types of leaves as mulch.
            fig and guava are great. mulberry also... lots of minerals

            obviously they keep the plant warm
            but they also keep the soil microbes warm as well
            more active when its cold, and the soil warming earlier.

            i cleared away a 3-inch mulch layer the other day
            i saw springtails, worms, rolly-pollys, anoles...
            lots of life popping...
            all eating and producing waste (fertilizer)
            New Olreans, Louisiana
            --

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            • #9
              Hay has more nutrition in it but is LOADED with seeds. Straw will have much less seed in it, just all depends how weedy the grain field was when harvested. If it was me I would go with straw, or leaves.
              Cutting sales will start Tuesday Nov 1 at 9:00 eastern

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              • #10
                Hay is dried forage. It can be grass, alfalfa, or any other forage that has nutrient value for livestock feed. Straw is the stems of a grain crop and has low nutritive value. Hay being higher in nitrogen decomposes faster than straw. Thus straw is usually better insulation esp in the long run. Dry hay is good insulation.

                Basically hay is livestock feed/food. Straw is livestock bedding. That's how a farmer or rancher sees the difference.

                People out here make straw bale houses but never hay bale houses. Straw bale houses properly built can have very high insulation values. Even straw must be kept dry for a house or it will rot. What a mess that would be.
                Last edited by fruitnut; 12-03-2016, 04:11 PM.
                Alpine, Texas 4500ft elevation Zone 7
                http://growingfruit.org/

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