Pea straw is the waste product left from large scale agricultural production of peas. A versatile product used as both a stock feed and garden mulch, pea straw has been popular for several years increasingly so in recent years. As a stock feed pea straw is often baled and silage wrapped when still relatively green and fresh. Peastraw garden mulch is usually baled when dry and can be purchased direct from the farm or from a local garden centre.
Applying pea straw to your vegetable garden can be as simple as spreading it around straight from the bale. However, there are a few techniques that can add value to the peastraw before distributing it around your veggies. Consider some of the following options to make the most out of your pea straw.
Soaking in water to increase water holding ability
Soaking pea-straw in water before using has a couple of beneficial uses. Increasing its water holding ability is perhaps the most important. Pea straw is baled dry and may take a while to begin retaining water under normal conditions. Soaking helps speed up this process. In addition to this, the liquid the straw is soaked in is an excellent fertiliser and conditioner to water your vegetable plants with.
Shredding with Sheep or Bovine manure
Shredding pea-straw requires a shredder or chipping machine with a flail type of shredding chamber. Small amounts should be fed into the shredder at a time to prevent it clogging up the unit. Sheep, Bovine or even horse manure can be shredded with the the pea straw. This can assist with preventing the peas straw from blocking the unit.
Composting with green grass clippings
Peastraw is a great additive in a compost heap as a carbon source. Mixed in layers with fresh green grass clippings, pea straw breaks down quickly providing a rich semi composted mulch perfect for use on a Vegetable garden. Fresh and green grass clippings will help speed up the composting process. Making a mulching compost like this would not include typical household scraps etc. which will take longer to decompose. Another option is to add a layer of pea straw on the garden bed and cover this with fresh green lawn clippings. Leave this for a week or 2 before planting out your seedlings. This time delay is important to reduce the level of heat build up from the grass as it begins to decompose.
As this years mulch breaks down around the plants it is becoming the media in which next seasons veggies will be planted while encouraging beneficial insects, worms and bacteria.
Article written by Eric J. Smith