Organic Garden Mulch: Shredded Paper And Newspaper

How to use shredded newspaper as an addition to your organic mulch.

First of all, what is organic mulch? Gardeners use the term quite often (Late spring and fall to be specific.), but are we beginner gardeners really clear on the definition of the term?

Mulch is a protective covering of organic matter spread directly to the soil. Organic matter is defined as anything made up of natural materials that will gradually break down into the soil over a period of time. Many gardeners, both seasoned and fledgling alike, use plastic mulches. While plastic mulches work well for weed prevention, they are not very well recommended due to their inability to give the soil any enriching benefits.

Now, about using newspaper pages (HINT: A single layer of cardboard also works very well if you do not have newspaper.) as part of you organic mulching process. It is a very simple task if you are a beginning gardener, so there need not be any worry.

Step 1: You simply place two to six full pages of newspaper around the circumference of the base of the desired plant.

HINT: Keep the newspaper about two inches away from the trunk or stem of the plant for acidic reasons.

Step 2: On top of the layer of newspaper, apply a layer of other organic mulches of your choice. This could include any one of the following components:

- Sawdust (HINT: Be choosy about your wood selection, it affects the acidic nature of the soil.)

- Wood chips (see the HINT above.)

- Bark chips (Landscapers are a good source of these materials. See the HINT above.)

- Compost (Many gardeners opt to keep their own compost heap for this specific reason.)

- Grass clippings

Your layer need not be more than two inches deep (HINT: One inch is actually recommended.) because there is no added benefit. Very important: do not go as deep as six inches because your mulch will lose almost all of its drainage and enriching benefits.

It is necessary to mulch you gardens and flower beds in order to reduce evaporation, maintain even soil temperature, prevent erosion, control weeds and enrich the soil. Beginning gardeners often confuse mulching in the spring with mulching in the fall. Your spring mulch (HINT: Best if done after the last frost date to ensure adequate soil warmth for good plant growth.) is used to suppress weeds and conserve moisture. Your fall mulch is intended to use as a complete protective covering for the soil and next season's plants. There are no direct differences between mulch for your garden and mulch for your flowerbed.

You add more organic mulch to your garden or flowerbed only as the original layer decomposes into a thin rich layer. You can then add more newspaper pages and a layer of the organic mulch mixture of your choice following the simple steps listed above. Reading gardening books provided by your favorite bookseller or your local public library will help point you in the right direction and answer any questions that you might have.

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