Typically, we sell straw as a growing medium for mushrooms.  After getting many requests from others to buy straw, we did market some straw this year to gardeners!

We wanted to post some feedback we got on using straw as garden mulch.  We sold quite a few straw bales this spring/summer and many people were going to use them in their gardens.

Some background:

We purchased oat straw from a certified organic farmer about three hours north of us last fall.  If everyone remembers, last summer was very wet and many grain farmers in Alberta didn’t even get their crops harvested.  We were thrilled to get any straw at all!  Most organic grain farmers don’t sell their straw as they use it in soil remediation.  Also, if farmers bale straw, they bale it in large round bales and not typically square bales.  Bottom line, we are grateful to the certified organic farmers we work with who are willing to sell us straw.

The problem:

Certified organic straw is just that.  It is baled in the field and then we picked it up.  It has dust, dead rodents and seeds.  It will have (in this case) oat seeds but it may also have other seeds from weeds growing in the field with the oats.  We didn’t purposefully keep this information from anyone!  We just didn’t think that others wouldn’t know there are seeds in straw…  We have always used straw in our gardens and we pick out the oats or barley that start to grow.  We expect this.  We also know that once you pick out all the oats, there are very few the second year.  They are easy to pick if you get them while they are still young.

We are sorry we didn’t think to write more about it before.  We didn’t think about it much!  We have now added more information to our online store.

Other ideas:

There are other products out there that are significantly more processed and have almost no seeds and less dust (probably no dead rodents as well!).  They are also chopped.  Here is one: https://healthistraw.com/  (looks like they have a certified organic product now).  I have seen these at Canadian Tire.

Our message:

Please know that when we sell products like straw, it’s at best a break even endeavour.  We used to live in the city and know how hard it can be to connect to farmers and source products direct from the farm.  That’s why we sold straw this spring!  So, for all of you gardeners pulling out oat sprouts this summer: know that next year it will be easier, and that the straw you purchased came from a labour of love.

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