mulching with newspaper

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by ajaxlucy, Jan 19, 2005.

  1. ajaxlucy

    ajaxlucy Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I feel like a loser admitting this but here goes: I haven't been mulching my garden. Not much, anyway. I want this year to be different, though, and am hoping for suggestions that don't cost too much. I don't have access to pine needles, grass clippings or some of the other materials listed in the gardening books (salt marsh hay?), but I do have newspaper. Can I use it all as mulch? What about the dyes? Are the pages with colored pictures a no-no in the garden?
     
  2. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    If you're a loser, than I've lost the battle already. :no:
    Mulch anytime you can with what you can, is a simple rule of thumb.

    I've used newspaper for mulch and pile other mulch like staw or deciduous leaves. Pine needles are better muclh for acid loving plants. Grass clippings can compact and get mouldy if wet, but I've use that as mulch also. If you can't mulch it, then compost it.

    Most newspaper uses soy based ink for the black and white pages and will break down harmlessly. The color pages use chemicals, so I try and avoid those.
     

  3. moopups

    moopups In Remembrance

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    Newspaper makes excllent mulch, but not the shiny advertisements, they contain ink made with heavy metals. Most printers nowdays use a soy based ink for the regular papers, but do call and ask before useing.
     
  4. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    Ive been shredding everything that comes in the mail,plus any cardboard packaging that will go thru the shredder.Putting it on top of my pine needles.It is great for keeping the ground moist and helping those pine needles break down.I think its a great resource,at least this 'rookie' gardener thinks so.Worm population rapidly returned to areas recieving this mulch too.

    BooBoo
     
  5. 3girls

    3girls Well-Known Member

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    Lots of stuff can be used as mulch. It helps newpaper to be shredded, but is not necessary. Are you in a city or town? See if they have a leaf/yard waste facility. You can usually find what you need there. Also, while it is not the best, you can purchase various mulches at Garden Centers. Go for compost or peat moss mixes, rather than bark.
     
  6. willow_girl

    willow_girl Very Dairy

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    Go to the place where your local newspaper is printed and ask if there are any "roll ends" that you can have. Usually these will be free or for a nominal charge. This is unprinted, uncut newspaper stock still on the roll. (The rolls are swapped out well before they run out; there will be many yards of paper left on the roll.)

    It is much easier to mulch with rolled paper than individual sheets ... for one, it won't blow away before you can get a layer of bark, etc., on it to hold it down. Simply weigh down one end with a rock or two, kick the roll along to spool it out, weigh it down at the other end, and continue rolling back and forth until you have 5 or 6 layers built up. Then hose it down lightly to "mush" the paper together, and cover it with a layer of loose bark mulch or compost to hold it down. By the end of summer, it will decompose and rototil in nicely, and in the meantime it will do a fair job of holding back the weeds. :)
     
  7. healing herbals

    healing herbals Pam in OK

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    We have mulch, that is made by the city. But my question with that is, Don't you have to think about whatever chemicals were applied to the trees, etc before they were shredded?
     
  8. kathrynlmv

    kathrynlmv Well-Known Member

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    Ajaxlucy, I'm real sorry you feel like a loser, because I've been using newspaper for mulch for over 20 years....so what does that make me? I find that it really works best, (after having removed slick sections, colored ads, etc.) if you have a nice thick section...like New York Times, and lay it down between the rows, having each section overlapping the next a little. Then you must hose it down, or it will be all over the neighbor's yards by the weeks end. It's far better to have some other material to put on top....I use leaves(stay away from oak..they take a long time to break down, unless you need to acidify your soil) that my city neighbors bag up and leave next to the curb for our recycling center.....(another source of useful materials...if you have access to one) however, even when I lived in the country, I used to browse the neighborhoods for their leaf or grass clipping pick-up days, and show up the day before, load up my car with as many bags as I could smash in, and repeat throughout the season, or my strength.
    You might also want to check into getting some earthworms....because when you raise worms, they require bedding, and shredded or handtorn newspaper is about the top of the line for worms....you could start wormbeds right in between your rows....the paper would keep the weeds down, and the worms would dig, aerate, and fertilize your garden, without you lifting another finger.
    Also, I've used very thick, overlapping sections of newspaper, directing on top of sod, covered with leaves, and into this can be planted hill crops, like squash, or tomatoes, etc., but by the next spring, you're land has been cleared. No more sod. If you really can't come up with any free materials to put on top, I'd try to find a way to get the paper shredded or torn into strips....you wouldn't believe what a windy day can do with a backyard full of dry newspapers. :eek: Kathy
     
  9. Sylvia

    Sylvia Well-Known Member

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    Thanks ajaxlucy for asking your question. I had been toying with the idea and after having read all these posts about it, I'm starting today! I'm going to get a paper shredder and do my mail too! Boy the neighbors are going to really laugh at me when they see me scrounging through their recycling bins for their newspapers. But I'll have the last laugh when they see how big my harvest will be! :haha:
    Sylvia
     
  10. oberhaslikid

    oberhaslikid Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I have to tell you that I am admitting to using or burying my chick papers in the garden.I had last year, a Gaylord (4'x4') box of chicks in my basement.I lined the box with newspaper,then when it got soiled I rolled it to remove the paper from the hole I cut in the side.It went into an empty feed bag then we would take it out to the garden and dig a small area lay out the paper and cover with the soil.We did this all winter and by spring when we tilled the garden there wasnt any paper to be found.I think the worms ate it.
     
  11. 3girls

    3girls Well-Known Member

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    I would be very concerned if I were a Certified Organic Gardener/Farmer. I am not, so don't mind using it. Almost all the lawns around here are mowed by professionals, who leave the clippings on the ground. That is where the bulk of pesticides and herbicides go. The stuff I get has been composted for about a year, and I have seen plumes of steam coming from the piles. I get some loads and let them mellow for another year and use them in good conscience in the fall.

    I do garden organically (small "o"), but it is just for family. I use only biologic controls if anything on my plants. I also use compost. Actually, in the fall, I try to put down a thick layer of mushroom compost, topped by a thick layer of the leaf compost in the fall, and just plant down into what's left in the spring. I don't turn the beds. We have earthworms the size of snakes who do a great job of plowing.
     
  12. suelandress

    suelandress Windy Island Acres Supporter

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    Of course if you use this instead of newspapers, the worms won't have anything to read :p
     
  13. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    Another source of free mulch is tree trimming services.They are often glad to have a place to drop their shreddings that is either close or free.Buddy of mine got more than he ever bargained for,made an awesome very deep mulch in his yard.
    Then turned his front yard into a flower showplace(no grass) in his Orange County Calif. neighborhood,folks would walk by and stare,it was outrageous.The only secret was sun and all that mulch,weeds didnt stand much of a chance.

    BooBoo
     
  14. piddler

    piddler Member

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    This is just my 2 cents worth...I have used newspaper, paper grocery bags, etc. Usually I put them in the compost heap and use it that way. It really works good.
     
  15. Mickey

    Mickey Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I open up all my empty grainbags and spread them out, soak them and then cover them with grass clippings, shredded leaves, bark mulch, anything that I have around. The grainbags are fairly heavy paper and triple thickness. I wouldn't however use any bags that have a wax coating.
    Mickey
     
  16. ravenstark

    ravenstark Member

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    I addition to wax, watch for feedbags that contain a plastic inner layer; they will make a terrible mess in the garden or compost pile. If you have the time and inclination, such bags can be disassembled and the pastic separted out.