What do your garden and your paper shredder have in common?

paper-as-mulchMany of you are aware of the practice of using cardboard and newspaper as organic mulch or an organic additive to your compost pile but did you know that shredded paper makes a great mulch around many of your vegetables.

The purpose of mulch is threefold: to deter weed seed germination by preventing their exposure to sun and air; regulating soil temperature; and conserving soil moisture while reducing water runoff. Shredded paper does all of these with the added benefits of recycling waste that would otherwise wind up in a landfill, providing food for the worms, removing another source of clutter from your home and all at an economically friendly price – free!

When mulching add a heavy layer of the shredded paper around the base of your plant, leaving a little room for air circulation, and extend it out from the base as far as you want to deter the weeds. While most paper printing is moving towards the more friendly and less expensive soy based inks some glossy papers still contain metallic based inks so I recommend staying away from the glossy papers. Water the shredded paper really well so that it will form a heavy, dense mat that will not easily blow away. Sitting on the top of the soil the paper will not easily decompose but once your growing season is over turn the paper into the soil making sure to break up the heavy mat of paper and spreading it throughout the soil in order to speed up decomposition by the micro and macro organisms present in the soil.

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