Freebies for Members: Salt Hay Makes Great Mulch

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s gifts to Hansberry Garden & Nature Center this season include a couple of bales of salt hay. The bales are currently on the deck near the shed, on the bottom shelf of a table that offers them a little protection from rain. Because the deck will be heavily used for the plant sale, the bales may move; if they do, we’ll try to send an email update to members.

Why Mulch?

Mulching, or covering the soil around plants with materials like salt hay, straw, compost, or, in some cases, wood chips, is said to have three primary benefits:

  • It inhibits weeds by blocking sunlight to the covered area.
  • It regulates soil temperature by insulating the ground
  • It retains moisture in the soil so you don’t have to water as often.

If you’d like to use the salt Hay as mulch in your bed and don’t know how it’s done, take a look at the beds of members who have mulched with straw or salt hay for example. One note: make sure you leave a little space (three inches or so) between your mulch and the stems of plants like tomatoes, cucumbers, etc., that are easily affected by fungus. It’s important that the plants themselves can dry out, and mulch tends to stay wetter.

Why Salt Hay?

Salt Hay is a plant that grows in coastal areas, in soil with a high salt content. It won’t grow in our raised beds — which means that any seeds it happens to contain won’t become weeds.