The Q&A Archives: Using shreded paper

Question: I work in a place that generates bags of shredded paper and I was thinking of using it to mix into my garden. It is a new garden and I have a lot of weeds that I am trying to control. Will the shredded paper work, and how should I best use it; mixed intothe soil, or spread around the plants?

Answer: Shredded paper mixed into your garden soil would add some bulk to the soil and will break down over the growing season. Shredded paper used as a mulch (3-5 inches deep) will help suppress weeds around your veggies and will help keep soil moisture from evaporating. If the source of the paper is standard office-type computer paper or comes from letters, it should be no problem. If there are glossy magazine type papers, or colored inks in the shredded product, you may want to use it exclusively on ornamentals rather than on edible crops. The jury's still out on the amount of those materials that can be safely used in vegetable gardens.

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