Frequenty Asked Questions

About Strulch

What is the science behind Strulch?

Geoff was working at Leeds University and he conducted experiments on the University Farm.  He noticed that plant residues were being preserved and he realised that it was the natural minerals found in soil that were combining with the plant cellulose. He found he could replicate this and spent five years running trials at the University's Botantic Garden and Strulch was born and  protected by several patents.  The minerals are locked into the plant fibre and are not washed away by water and that makes Strulch long lasting.

Is Strulch made from composted straw?

No, Strulch is made using quality wheat straw which is prepared by our own process which doesn't involve composting. It is a manufactured material made freshly throughout the year.

How does Strulch deter slugs?

Believe it or not slugs are capable of learning! When Geoff did his experiments he observed that slugs quickly retracted their heads from Strulch because it irritates them, they then associate the smell of it with their experience of touching it and keep away. The texture of Strulch, especially when dry, is also unpleasant for them to move on.

Will Strulch kill slugs and snails?

No. Strulch will not kill slugs and snails but it will  deter their movement over the ground towards your plants. The dry scratchy material deters them and the embedded  minerals irritate them and they learn to keep off it! This means that birds and other slug and snail eating animals will not be affected in any way if they eat them.. Where there is an existing problem with slug and snail eggs present in the soil, these can hatch out and badly affect plants regardless of the Strulch. Slugs and snails can also move freely across vegetation without touching the Strulch where there is close planting.  We know from our trials and from your feedback that Strulch makes a huge difference.

Will Strulch get rid of perennial weeds?

No, perennial weeds like other perennial plants die back in winter but their roots are preserved in the soil and the plant will come back if not removed. We suggest that all weeds are cleared before spreading Strulch but if some weeds remain they will be easier to remove because Strulch keeps the soil moist and prevents the surface from hardening.

Will Strulch stop my bulbs and perennial plants from coming through?

No, Strulch works by blocking light needed for germination so seedlings will not appear but perennial plants and bulbs will come through as usual.

What does a neutral pH mean?

It means that Strulch is neither acid nor alkaline. It has a pH of 6.5 and so can be used around acid or alkaline loving plants without changing soil conditions

Is Strulch Environmentally Friendly?

Yes, Strulch is made from renewable and local resources which do not harm the environment and Strulch has been verified for use in organic growing systems.

Is Strulch Vegan?

Strulch is made from wheat straw with added minerals. It is suitable for vegans.

Can Strulch bags be recycled?

Yes, Strulch bags are made from recyclable plastic (Low-density polyethylene, or LDPE, number 4-coded plastic) which can be taken to a local recycling centre if your local authority does not offer a household collection. The website will tell you where you can recycle plastic bags if you enter your postcode and choose the plastic bags option.

Plus we now have 30% recycled plastic in our bags.

You might also use the bags again. I have a great picture of a customer wearing one of our bags as a dust jacket whilst sawing wood. Other people have remarked that the bags are useful for transporting rubbish to the tip. More recently a customer has told us that he uses our bags as a receptacle to make compost. He says the air holes allow worms etc to move in and out of the bags if left in the open. He says it is better than a compost heap. See our blog post. Ingenious!

We constantly review the quality of our bags and our bag manufacturer now uses less plastic whilst maintaining the strength needed to deliver our product to you in one piece.

Is Strulch combustible?

Strulch is made from wheat straw. Straw like any natural material will burn if set alight when dry. We recommend that Strulch is kept away from sources of ignition. a dictionary definition: A source of ignition can be described as, “any object, process or event capable of igniting or transmitting a medium to prompt combustion”. Within this definition, a source of ignition could include open flames, hot surfaces, friction and sparks. In a garden setting this might include a BBQ area for example.

Is Strulch pet friendly?

We have a Lhasa Apso dog aged 10 years called Ernie and two cats aged 16 and 18 years, all have free range in our garden which has garden beds spread with Strulch. You can see a picture of Ethel our ginger haired moggy on my blog. Our cats love to sleep on Strulch as it makes a lovely dry bed to sleep on and a good vantage point between the plants spy on birds! Luckily my cats are too old to catch anything so snoozing in the fresh air seems to compensate. Ethel is long haired, and the only drawback is that she brings Strulch into the house on her fur. Ernie has never eaten any Strulch, but some dogs will eat anything. As I have said elsewhere, Strulch is made of straw and can only be digested by Ruminants.

Will Strulch last if I don’t use it all this season?

Strulch will last at least twelve months providing you store it in a dry place. A garage or shed would be ideal. There are small air holes that aid packing and if left outside water will seep in and the material will compost. An alternative would be to store under a tarpaulin outside.

Should individuals with an allergy to straw use Strulch?

Strulch - the straw mulch for organic gardening, is recommended for use only as a garden mulch and advice on how to use it and precautions are available on the label and also on our product Information page.

Strulch is made from high quality wheat straw which has to be dry and free from mould to be acceptable in the manufacturing process.

It is difficult to comment on allergies as individuals may have specific allergies that they are aware of.

If you know that you are allergic to wheat straw or have a history of impaired lung function then we would recommend that you do not spread it yourself or consider not using it at all. 

As when handling any straw-based products it is advisable to avoid exposure to the inhalation of dust. Strulch is packed moist and we recommend watering it in to compact the surface after spreading.

Why do you suggest that bags of Strulch should be stored in a dry place?

There are holes in the bags which help air to escape in the packaging process. They are small holes but big enough to allow water in. If water does get in the product becomes heavy and over time will compost. Store in a garage or shed or failing that under a tarpaulin outside.

Why is my Strulch lighter in colour this year?

Strulch is made from wheat straw a natural product that can vary year to year. Last year was a hot season in the crucial growth period. This has resulted in stronger straw with a more waxy surface. As a consequence it will take a few weeks longer to turn brown.

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How to use Strulch

What is the best way to apply a mulch?

The following is guidance from the Royal Horticultural Society's website:     

How to apply mulch

Beds and borders can be mulched entirely, taking care not to smother low growing plants or to pile mulches up against the stems of woody plants.

To be effective, biodegradable mulches need to be between at least 5cm (2in) and ideally 7.5cm (3in) thick - (Strulch is effective at 3-4 cms)

Lay mulches over moist soil, after removing weeds, including their roots, when the soil is not frozen.

Can Strulch be applied any time of the year?

Yes, but it is important that the ground is wetted first. Ideally this would be from heavy rainfall. By laying Strulch evaporation will be reduced keeping moisture around plant roots.

Should I water the ground before spreading Strulch?

Yes if the ground is dry give it a good soaking. Strulch will help to keep the soil moist by limiting evaporation. Once spread give Strulch a water too to fix it in place.

Can seeds be germinated in Strulch?

No Strulch works by blocking light so will inhibit germination. Also, Strulch is not a growing media.

If you wish to propagate seedlings from your favourite plants move the Strulch away or leave a space around those plants.

How big do seedlings need to be when using Strulch around them?

If you are growing any plant from seed or buying small plugs of plants we advise keeping a space between rows until plants are well established (6 to 10 inches) to avoid contact with young sensitive leaves. It is also advisable to leave a collar of space around the base of the plants to allow air to circulate and remember Strulch works by blocking out light therefore when growing vegetables wait until they are well established before spreading Strulch around plants or between the rows.

Below is an example from our own peas and lettuce in one of our raised beds.

Strulch around seedlings and young plants with a collar of space

Why do we say leave a collar of space around woody stems?

We suggest you follow the Royal Horticultural Society's guidance regarding ALL mulches :'If laid correctly there is generally no problem with mulches. However, if they are in direct contact with the stems of trees or specimen shrubs they can cause the stem to soften, making it vulnerable to diseases.'

Are there any plants which are sensitive to Strulch?

Aquilegia​s, for example, appear to be sensitive to newly spread Strulch but go on to thrive. It is the young foliage which is affected and older established plants are fine. We suggest that you wait until the plants are more mature before putting Strulch close up to them. Leave a collar of space especially around any small seedlings to make sure there is adequate light. For small delicate plants such as lettuce or similar we advise splitting the bags and letting the material breath for 24 hours before spreading.

Can Strulch be used in a green house or other enclosed space?

Strulch was developed for use on open ground, however, if you intend to use it in a confined space we suggest you slit the bags from top to bottom in the open air and leave it overnight. This will allow the product to breathe and for any vapours in the bag to dissipate before spreading . Strulch is not recommended for use in coldframes etc where there is restricted air movement.

How should I fertilise the area where I have spread Strulch and do I need to remove it first?

There is no need to remove Strulch to apply a fertiliser. Fertilisers, for example - pelleted, can be spread over Strulch in late winter and will be washed down to plant roots by rain.

Can Strulch be used in a no dig regime?

Strulch is ideal for use in a no dig plot. There several reasons. Strulch is long lasting and once laid will last on the surface for up to two years protecting the soil and preventing weed germination.  Strulch also has no added fertilisers and only contains the nutrients found in straw and which are released only when the Strulch brakes down. You have control of when and how much fertiliser to add to your plants. We suggest using pelleted manure which will break down over time.

Should I put Strulch near to a pond?

We advise that you leave a margin free from Strulch around your pond. Strulch is made from wheat straw with added minerals. Unlike barley straw which some people say is advantageous for keeping water clear, Strulch will not do the same job. Many ponds have marginal plants and ground cover which don't require a mulch and sloping sides designed to help frogs etc leave the water would enable Strulch to slip into the water. A wetland Iris trial undertaken at Wisley showed that Strulch worked well in these conditions but maintain at least a one meter margin.

Can Strulch be used as bedding for animals and can they eat it?

We recommend that Strulch only be used as a garden mulch, having said that, we know of numerous gardens that use Strulch where there are free range chickens and the evidence is that they prefer to throw it about in search of the worms that linger under the surface in the moist soil layer. Strulch is a bit like a fortified breakfast cereal except that it is made from wheat straw which can't be digested by animals other than by ruminants ie. cows who have a four - compartment stomach. So any animal that eats Strulch will be sick because it is indigestible.

Can Strulch be used to ward off slugs around individual plants?

Strulch is not a slug killer. It simply deters slugs and snails because Strulch is a mulch designed to be spread across a whole area. It stops weed germination and retains moisture in the soil too. The surface of Strulch dries out and it is the physical properties of it together with the added minerals which deters the slugs so they won't travel over it to get to plants. A small amount of Strulch spread around an individual plant is unlikely to be as effective for that reason.

Can I use Nematodes with Strulch?

What are Nematodes?

Using Nematodes can be an effective way of controlling slugs in your garden but results can be patchy and unpredictable. Here are a few tips on how to get the best out of using nematode control methods.

Nematodes are microscopic worms that are well adapted to living in soils. The nematodes used in commercial slug control products are specially selected strains of parasitic species which seek out slugs in the soil, invade and multiply in the slug body and eventually kill the slug by eating them from the inside out (think of Alien film series). Soil inhabiting nematodes have evolved a specialised method of moving through soils by clinging on to the water films that surround soil particles. Their mobility and effectiveness is greatest in well structured, open and particularly sandy soils that are kept moist so that there is a thin film of water kept around the soil particles. Nematode mobility and effectiveness is greatly reduced in heavy clay soils which are compacted, particularly when they are hard and dry.

Making sure that the soil is well cultivated and moist before applying nematodes is a good first step to getting the most of nematode slug control. However, covering the surface with a layer of Strulch after treatment is an excellent way of keeping the soil moist so the nematodes can do their job of seeking out and attacking slugs.

Should I use Nematodes or Strulch to prevent slug damage in my garden?

The questions should not be either/or since the use of both can be complementary. Strulch works by deterring adult slugs from moving in from outside to graze on susceptible plants and lay their eggs in the soil. If your soil is already heavily infected with slugs then applying Strulch may not always be sufficient to prevent slug eggs from hatching out and attacking plants without having to move in over the soil surface. Combining nematode control with Strulch can be beneficial in these circumstances. Once the nematodes have done their work in removing slug infestation in the soil, the Strulch will deter invasion of new slugs from outside the controlled area.

Using nematodes and Strulch to keep slugs under control is a good example the contemporary Integrated Crop Management (IPM) approach to reducing use of pesticides. IPM is an ecosystem-based strategy that focuses on long-term prevention of pests or their damage through a combination of techniques such as biological control, habitat manipulation, modification of cultural practices, and use of resistant varieties.

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Delivery of Strulch

Do I need to be at home for my delivery and should I sign for my delivery if I am home?

It is not necessary to be at home to take the delivery providing the pallet can be left in a safe place off the highway ( pavement or road). If the latter you need to be there to take responsibility for moving the pallet afterwards.

The delivery companies will leave the goods without a signature if you are away from home but please be warned that you must check that the pallet is in tact before you sign for goods. By signing you are accepting that the goods are complete and in good condition. Once signed for the delivery company will not be liable if goods have been damaged or lost in transit.

A signature at delivery is not required but by signing you agree that the goods are as described.

If you are not at home when the delivery was made and there is a problem with the delivered goods you must notify us within 24 hours with a full description of any damage and ideally with photographs.

Can my delivery be made to a gravel driveway?

Pallets of Strulch are delivered via a tail lift at the back of the truck. The lift is lowered and a trolley is attached by forks. The driver can move the pallet a short distance using the trolley but the trolley cannot operate on any soft surface eg. grass or gravel as the weight of the pallet makes the wheels sink into the ground and the forks cannot be removed. In these circumstances the delivery will be made to the nearest hard surface. We ask customers to assess if delivery is possible. 

What are the dimensions of the pallets of Strulch?

48, 40, 25 or 12 bulk bags each come on a standard pallet measuring 1m x 1.2m 4-way with a small amount of bulging past the edge of the pallet for some (approx. 5cm each side).

The approximate height measurements are as follows:

  • 48 bulk bags 2.2m (not available as Smaller lorry delivery)
  • 40 bulk bags 1.8m
  • 25 bulk bags 1.2m
  • 12 bulk bags 0.7m

Size comparison of different Strulch product sizes

Can you deliver Strulch outside mainland UK?

Yes we regularly send Strulch abroad. We send pallets to Ireland, The Channel Islands, to France, Germany and Italy. You need to contact us for a quotation. To the Isle of Wight, the Channel Islands, Isle of Man and the Scottish islands and this typically involves us delivering to a freight forwarder on the mainland for no extra charge, and you negotiating a cost for the transportation to you. In the past we were able to deliver to other European countries however it is now more complicated and expensive to do so as you would be responsible for importing Strulch and paying local VAT. Please call to discuss on 01943 863610 or email [email protected]

Why have you removed free delivery in England and Wales?

Unfortunately, the cost of delivery to all areas has increased this year. Fuel increases and charges for clean air zones means we can no longer absorb theses costs in our basic price. Going forward we will show the additional cost of delivery to your postcode.

Delivery charges will be calculated and added to your order before you checkout. Delivery charges are charged per pallet and 12, 25 and 48 bags are each delivered on single pallets.

To show your accurate delivery costs enter your postcode in the Postcode calculator which can be found on the Buy Strulch page, Delivery page and Checkout basket.

We can deliver to Mainland Europe, The Channel Irelands, Northern Ireland and Ireland. Please complete the checkout where you will see a Request a shipping quote button or contact us on 01943 863610 for a quotation.

Why is the Smaller lorry delivery is not available for 48 bags

Smaller lorry delivery is available for all sizes of Strulch except 48 bags due to the pallet height limitation for this vehicle and the smaller lorry option will not be available during checkout. If you require 48 bags please consider 40 bags + 12 bags for Smaller lorry deliveries.

If your order was not delivered on the scheduled day

When your pallet leaves us we will send you a tracking number by email so that you can track when your order is due to be delivered. On the day of delivery you will get another email with confirmation that it is loaded and ready for delivery.

Despite the delivery company tracking emails and sharing information with the delivery company, things don't always go according to plan. Deliveries may be delayed or instructions overlooked. When such issues arise, we do our best to resolve them promptly.

Unfortunately, we often don't have updates indicating that a delivery cannot be made until you bring it to our attention. Please let us know if your order has not arrived by 6pm on the scheduled day and we will try our best to get deliveries to you as fast as we can taking into account any reasonable requests.

For more information on the delivery of your Strulch order please see the Delivery page.

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