Lucerne Hay in Wellington, NZ

by Lee
(Wellington NZ)

I'm about to build some No-Dig beds in my garden. Thanks to all for the wealth of material on this site.

I'm confused about the layer of Lucerne Hay. On one of the pages it states that the second layer after newspaper could be Lucerne Hay or straw. But in another section it states that Lucerne Hay is a 'green layer' and straw is a 'brown layer'. My question therefore is, does the second layer need to be green or brown?

Also, if I can't find Lucerne Hay in Wellington, what should I use instead?


Comments for Lucerne Hay in Wellington, NZ

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Jul 18, 2011
Lucerne hay substitutes, and where to find in Wellington NZ
by: ~ Megan

It's confusing alright. The page on no-dig materials is an old page that needs updating, which will be done pronto, to stop more confusion. Otherwise I have called Lucerne (commonly called alfalfa) a brown material - although it should be called Lucerne hay when it's dried and brown.

Actually Lucerne is often grown as a nitrogen fixing cover crop, and also as animal fodder. It is a member of the pea family and grows about 1m high. It's often used as a green crop and dug in to provide valuable soil compost. When still green it can also be used as mulch and no dig material.

Mostly though, Lucerne is bought when dried or semi-dried, then it is called Lucerne hay. It is usually two years old by then and it is the last of the crop after 2 or 3 cuttings have been obtained. It's an amazingly prolific and nutritious plant.

Just to confuse things further, I will declare that I believe Lucerne can be green, brown or in-between! Take your pick. Even when brown, it's rather soft and decays rapidly, so it's not like hay stalks or wood chips or sticks.

Don't get too hung-up on following the no dig layers perfectly. Use what is available and within your budget. I rarely buy anything and prefer to use what I find in wild areas, beaches and tree-fellers, neighbours and the odd trip to a farm or horse stables/riding academy.

An acceptable no dig garden can be made by starting with a layer of scraps, weeds, grass etc, then covered with paper layers or similar, then topped with mulch, such as straw, sawdust, grass, leaves or similar, or a mixture of them.

So really that's only 3 layers, starting with green, then brown then green/brown to finish.

When you plant into it, just make a hole and fill with a handful of soil and put in your seed or seedling. When that plant has done its duty, just keep topping the area up with whatever is at hand for another planting, such as more grass, leaves, compost. You sometimes have to put more paper down if weeds have snuck in, and then put mulch over the lot. Go with the flow, life's confusing enough without worrying about garden confusion...

Regarding Wellington, there's a pleasant trip to be had out Ohariu Valley, Johnsonville way sometime, and you can pick up all sorts of wonderful garden stuff from the lifestylers out that way. There are other directions to explore, such as Wairarapa; or else pay a bit more and buy what you can at the garden centres. Pea straw, coconut fiber, I know are two that I've seen. Wrightsons are suppliers to farmers; I see they have a depot at 2 Auty Lane, Porirua, Phone: 04 237 1270 and also one in Wairarapa and Levin. ~ Megan

Aug 10, 2011
Lucerne Hay
by: Sue

Lucerne Mulch can be bought from "Sharps" at lower hutt up by PaknSav. It costs $20.00 a bag, it is expensive but I have a small garden & use sheep pellets first then layer the soil with the mulch...hav to say the worms luv it... It does burn tender plants when applied, so I use it in Autumn & early August before any growth appears.
Coco fibre can be obtained from "Switched on Gardener," I buy the 5 pack compressed & add worm castings to the mix for pots.... plants luv the mix & the lge bag of worm castings is far better value for money than buying sheep pellets... I can't understand here in NZ that they havn't bought out cow manure pellets yet, does anyone know if it is available????

Nov 14, 2016
lack of goid mulch materials
by: Anonymous

I am on the search for a mulch product for garden. So far I hear that pea straw is unavailable in Wairarapa at least as it can carry the pea weevil which is unwanted pest.
I will go get seaweed and anything else but am keen for other ideas

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