Soil Restoration With Used Straw


Lab7by Carolyn North

Severe flooding in Northern California left some valley land scoured down to bedrock. In one such place, the pit was used for ten years as a dumping ground for landslide debris ñ rock, rubble, clay and the occasional old tire. In the year 2000, we were given permission to try and restore one acre of this land to fertility, using mostly the animal-bedding straw from the local County Fair.

For two years we brought in truckloads of this straw, as well as wood chips, horse manure, leaves, spent hops from a local brewery - and let it mulch. With the huge piles of composting soil, we created a one-acre labyrinth garden, planting the mounds delineating the paths with native, drought-resistant, deer-resistant medicinal herbs.

Walking the labyrinth, the fragrance of each plant is released as you brush by the stalks, and regular pruning provides leaves for teas, and keeps the paths clear

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