Newspaper Mulch - Knowledgebase Question

Sandwich, IL
Question by tiredmum
July 10, 2000
I am sending this question to you again. Please answer all parts of the question, I need to know all the information, not just some. Can you tell me about mulching with newspapers? I read soewhere that newspaper can be used as a mulch, but I don't know any more than that. The thing that I read said that the paper should be about 4 sheets thick and wetted, then put on the ground, overlapping, then have some other organic mulch on top of that. Would the newspapers keep the moisture in, or would it dry out, then blow all over the neighborhood? Since the newspapers would be like a mat on top of the soil, would it attract bugs that would nest underneath? Would the plants be able to get enough water? Should I just continue to water the garden and would the plants get enough through the paper? Also, when the garden season is done, what to do with the papers? Can the papers be tilled into the garden, or would I have to burn them or throw them out? If possible, I'd like to just till them into the garden. Would the papers add to the soil, or not? Also, this will be in a vegetable garden. Is it safe to use newspapers in a vegetable garden? Would the inks be safe or harmful?
Thanks for any information you can give me. Please e-mail me as soon as possible. I am waiting on this answer to get to work in my garden.


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Answer from NGA
July 10, 2000

0

your garden.

Would the plants be able to get enough water? Yes. Rain will usually soak through. It helps slow evaporation so it evens out.

Should I just continue to water the garden and would the plants get enough through the paper? Thsi will depend on what watering method you use. A daily light sprinkling won't do it. But you should be watering less often but deeply anyway. I would not consider it a problem. Soaker hoses should possibly be placed under the paper if that is what you use to water.

Also, when the garden season is done, what to do with the papers? Nothing. Leave them in place. They will rot down eventually.

Can the papers be tilled into the garden, or would I have to burn them or throw them out? If you till in the fall you can till them in if they are sort of soggy and begun to break down a bit. I don't know if they would jam up in a tiller if they are fresh, though. I've never tried that.

If possible, I'd like to just till them into the garden. See above. If you leave it until spring they will probably be just about decomposed and would till just fine.

Would the papers add to the soil, or not? Yes, they add organic matter. Paper is fibrous.

Also, this will be in a vegetable garden. Is it safe to use newspapers in a vegetable garden? Yes, usually.

Would the inks be safe or harmful? You can double check with the newspaper printer, but most inks are vegetable based now.

Thanks for any information you can give me. I hope this helps.
your garden.

Would the plants be able to get enough water? Yes. Rain will usually soak through. It helps slow evaporation so it evens out.

Should I just continue to water the garden and would the plants get enough through the paper? Thsi will depend on what watering method you use. A daily light sprinkling won't do it. But you should be watering less often but deeply anyway. I would not consider it a problem. Soaker hoses should possibly be placed under the paper if that is what you use to water.

Also, when the garden season is done, what to do with the papers? Nothing. Leave them in place. They will rot down eventually.

Can the papers be tilled into the garden, or would I have to burn them or throw them out? If you till in the fall you can till them in if they are sort of soggy and begun to break down a bit. I don't know if they would jam up in a tiller if they are fresh, though. I've never tried that.

If possible, I'd like to just till them into the garden. See above. If you leave it until spring they will probably be just about decomposed and would till just fine.

Would the papers add to the soil, or not? Yes, they add organic matter. Paper is fibrous.

Also, this will be in a vegetable garden. Is it safe to use newspapers in a vegetable garden? Yes, usually.

Would the inks be safe or harmful? You can double check with the newspaper printer, but most inks are vegetable based now.

Thanks for any information you can give me. I hope this helps.

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