Old news is good news
A wise journalist once said “Old news is no news.” But if you ‘re a gardener who hates digging or to pull weeds, you will find, as I have, that “Old news is good news”! Let me show you how old news is good news when you want to make weeds instantly disappear and the many other uses of newspaper in the garden as:
Weed Suppressant, Mulch, No-Dig Bed
Newspapers help you make ‘no-dig’ garden beds and are an easy organic effective method to stop weed invasion. Using newspapers in the garden is frugal as well as environmentally sound. Put your old newspapers to good use by recycling them as mulch for the garden. Newsprint is great for creating ‘no-dig’ garden beds and for easy organic weed control. The technique of newspaper mulch is a combination of heavy layer of newspapers and mulch, like sheet- layering for the long term. The more you do it the fewer weeds and over time no more weeds. In areas covered with weeds, spread an inch or two of shredded leaves or other components and mow them in after adjusting the lawn mower blades to the lowest setting. Removing the weed by hand is a waste of time.
What you need are a lot of newspapers (like the Guardian), as well as some organic mulching materials like grass clippings, shredded bark, chopped up leaves, straw etc.
Place newspapers about 12 pages thick over all the weeds over-lapping the edges so that light (and weeds) can’t get through, the newspaper acts as a weed barrier as well as blocks the sun, but decomposes over time.
As you do this, cover the newsprint with 3-4 inches of good quality top soil to improve the quality of the soil more add a bit of compost and mulching material like finely shredded composted bark or leaves.
Newspaper applied thickly will smother those weeds for the entire season. The paper will also keep any buried seeds from germinating. This technique is called “ Newspaper Mulching” it is easy to do, don’t worry about black print versus coloured print because these days all newspapers use non-toxic pigments. Even glossy pages are coated with non-toxic materials.
From experience, newspaper makes better weed-suppressants than just regular mulch alone. The paper blocks out the light that plants need for photosynthesis (the conversion of sunlight into sugar). But water can penetrate the paper, which means worms, and other soil organisms are not compromised in any way.
Occasionally, a tough perennial weed might poke through the mulch but if and when that happens move some papers out of the way just a little bit, dig out the weed, cover up the space with an extra square of newspaper, and cover with mulch again.
You can also plant right away in a bed that’s been newspaper-mulched. Simply plunges a trowel through the paper to make a hole. Newspaper mulch will not only keep the weeds down, it will also fertilize the soil, cool the roots of the plants in the dry season heat, add organic matter to the soil and save water.
Earthworms will be active underneath the mulch, tilling the ground for you, adding worm castings, which is pure gold for plants. Newspaper-mulch is great for the garden and the gardener.
To plant, slit holes in the newsprint when the planting is complete, the new garden is mulched with 3-4 inches organic mulch – that’s it you’re done!
This job will take about an hour to several hours, depending on the size of your garden. The nice thing about newspaper mulching is that when all the newspapers are down with the mulch on top, the garden looks tidy and clean and it will stay so for months.
We’ve all heard it –“Newspapers are dead”. The talk these days that the printed newspaper will gradually disappear and we will be reading all our news online. I treasure my newspapers for use in the garden as well as news. When “Newspapers are dead” and buried in the garden, it’s no loss as plants will come alive and thrive in enriched soil.
Here are some other good uses for newspapers:
* Shredded newsprint can be used as the carbon source in the compost pile when dried leaves are not available.
* When moving plants and small shrubs after digging, wrap the root bulb in several layers of newsprint and wet before moving them to the shade where they sit until ready to plant. The wet layers of newsprint seal them together forming a strong fabric-like material that won’t easily fall apart.
* Gardeners can make newspaper pots for seed starting by using a wooden form that twists paper into small containers. Gardeners can also make paper planters out of newspaper for starting seedlings. This is a fun activity to do with children who are learning recycling craft and gardening.
* Newspaper for “lasagna gardening’’. Lasagna gardening involves layering newspapers or cardboard, soil and compost over a planting space to create a new garden bed, as they make an impenetrable mat that smothers weeds when soaked with water and placed several inches thick.
*Make slug traps out of newsprint. After wetting several sheets in stale beer make small mounds and place them among your flowering plants and vegetables that are eaten by slugs. In warm weather the slugs will congregate under the damp newspaper mounds where you can take great joy in squashing them.
* Newspaper for container gardens. Gardeners can cut newspapers into circles that custom fit their flower containers to slow moisture loss in pots. Three layers provide effective barrier against weeds while still allowing oxygen and irrigation to pass through. Disguise the newspaper with organic mulch or decorative moss.
*Newspaper is also handy as pot liner for terracotta containers, which tend to dry out rapidly in hot weather. Line the entire pot with a few sheets of newspaper and watch porous pots become more efficient and holding moisture than before. Tuck ends of the paper over the soil surface and hide with standard mulching materials.
Go Green For Earth Day
Today april 22 is earthday.
To celebrate this big beautiful planet, plant a tree or send green foliage arrangement as gifts that can be replanted.
* Keep garden tools clean. Don’t let rust shorten the lifespan of your garden tools, wipe the working end of tools with a few sheets of newspaper to remove dirt and debris, and then plunge the tools in a bucket filled with sand and a cup of oil.