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How to Add Wheat Straw to Garden Soil

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How to Add Wheat Straw to Garden Soil

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Overview

Because one of the goals of organic farming is to grow crops without chemicals, the organic farmer is limited in the types of fertilizers he can use. Most organic farmers limit themselves to compost fertilizers and mulch. Wheat straw is nitrogen rich and makes a good top dressing mulch and, when added to a compost pile, helps create nutrient-packed, pH neutral compost.

Top Dressing Wheat Straw

Step 1

Top dress wheat straw around the roots of your garden plants throughout the growing season by scattering the straw with a pitchfork.

Step 2

Allow wheat straw to decompose over the summer on your garden.

Step 3

Mix wheat straw into the garden in fall using a rototiller. As wheat straw breaks down, it will leave nutrients behind.

Compost Using Wheat Straw

Step 1

Collect wheat straw and other compost raw materials for your compost bin. Compost items are broken into two categories. One includes nitrogen-rich organic green materials such as wheat straw, clover, kitchen scraps and grass clippings. The other includes carbon-rich materials such as dead leaves or sawdust.

Step 2

Cut all organic components until they are 1 inch in size. Straw, clover and grass can be cut using a lawn mower. Food scraps can be reduced by trimming with kitchen scissors.

Step 3

Pile your organic materials into layers in the compost bin. Make your carbon layers twice as large as your nitrogen layers.

Step 4

Water your compost bin with a garden hose so that it is as damp as a wrung out sponge. The compost pile will begin to heat immediately.

Step 5

Stick a meat thermometer into the compost pile's center. Turn the pile inside out with a garden fork when the compost drops to temperatures below 130 degrees. The ideal range is between 130 and 160. Your compost will decompose quickly at this rate.

Step 6

Spread the compost onto the surface of your soil as top dressing when the compost has completely decomposed and there are no recognizable pieces left.

Step 7

Mix compost into the soil by pushing a rototiller over the surface of the soil in sections.

Things You'll Need

  • Wheat straw
  • Pitchfork
  • Rototiller
  • Clover
  • Kitchen scraps
  • Lawn clippings
  • Dead leaves
  • Sawdust
  • Garden hose
  • Meat thermometer
  • Shovel

References

  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Producing Garden Vegetables with Organic Soil Amendments
  • Oregon State University Extension: Improving Garden Soil
  • University of Minnesota Extension: Compost and Mulching
  • N.C. State University Extension: A Guide to Managing Organic Yard Wastes

Who Can Help

  • Iowa State University: Garden Soil Management
Keywords: wheat straw in garden, garden soil amendments, making compost

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."