Old newspapers can be put to useful work in the family garden
Old Newspapers can help you grow good plants. They can be used as a much, soil conditioner, and insect trapper, for example, or to help fool Jack Frost, as a mat for watering houseplants, and for storage.Skip to next paragraph
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At a time when old newspapers bring a mere $10 a ton on the scrap heap, and the nation's landfills are bulging with waste paper and paper products anyway, why not put last week's newspapers to work in the garden -- after you've saved any gardening stories, of course.
Here's what you can do with them:
Mulch. A mulch is any material that is applied to the surface of the soil to hold the earth's temperature more constant, conserve moisture, and cut down weed growth. Mulches are true energy savers because they lessen the need for cultivation and save the country's dwindling water supply.
Newspapers, as a mulch, can be applied either in the flat folded form or they can be shredded and applied as leaves, hay,or straw would be used.
If they are left flat, you will want to apply them at least 30 or 40 sheets thick, but more will not hurt.
Shredded, they can be a foot ro more thick.
Most gardeners like to wait until the seedlings are up and given their first cultivating and thinning before applying the mulch. Then the papers are put between the rows. After the plants are thinned to the proper distance, more papers can be laid crosswise between the plants.
Some people lay several thicknesses of newspapers down first before putting in transplans. Then they make holes for the plants.
Whether you use the papers flat or shredded, you should make sure first that the soil is loose and watered thoroughly. It's even a good idea to soak the first few layers of papers before applying the rest.
You don't have to limit the paper mulch to newspapers. Any paper trash -- egg cartons, cereal boxes, wrappings, cardboard, and the like -- can be used. Squash everything flat and put layers of papers over them if you do not have a shredder.
In the fall these materias can be worked into the soil where worms, bacteria, and fungi break them down into valuable humus and nutrients.
Waste paper for soil conditioners. All organic mulches, including newspapers and other paper products, increase the humus content of the soil enriching it with valuable nutrients as it decomposes and adding to its water-holding capacity.
Paradoxically, it increases the number of air spaces as well, giving plants the needed oxygen around the roots.
Those gardeners who despair because they have a soil that resembles cement when dry and yet acts like heavy clay when wet can benefit especially from the paper.
In early fall, after tilling the plot, lay a number of thicknesses of paper over the soil and then cover it with straw or leaves. The soil will soak up the fall and winter rains. As soon as it can be worked, plow in the mulch.
Another trick is to add shredded or handtorn papers to the family garbage every few days. When the garbage can is fulled, dump it on the garden and spade it in. You'll be surprised how quickly you can work it into the whole garden area, solving not only the garbage-disposal problem but benefiting the soil as well.