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Newspaper Mulch

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  • Jon Wood
    With all our talk earlier about using newspapers and cardboard to build garden beds out of, I thought yawl might like to know that I also use newspapers for
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 9, 2003
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      With all our talk earlier about using newspapers and cardboard to
      build garden beds out of, I thought yawl might like to know that I
      also use newspapers for other things out in my gardens.

      This afternoon, even tho my garden bed is almost 6-inches deep with
      things like leaves, newspaper, cardboard, rotted saw dust, wood
      chips, kitchen scraps, wheat straw, I also tuck newspapers under
      certain growing plants.

      Some of yawl stake your tomatoes. And that's super: I used to too,
      and some years I still do. Mostly tho, I let them reach out across
      the garden like a flattened octopus.

      Already well mulched, I'll still raise up the tomato limbs and spread
      newspaper under them. It has several benefits.

      One of these benefits is: being mostly white, the newspaper reflects
      sunlight upwards to the underside of the tomato leaves and has
      persuaded me that it helps the plant absorb more sunlight, and helps
      the fruits to ripen quicker than without it.

      It also absorbs water and keeps it in the ground around the plants
      where it's needed most, as well as helps prevent evaporation of water
      already in the ground.

      Against the white backdrop of the newspapers you can better see red
      ripe tomatoes.

      The newspapers keep the tomatoes up off the ground thus helping to
      prevent rot of the fruit.

      A few of my newspapers I wetted down with beet water turning them
      blood red. Some talk earlier that red under tomatoes enhanced fruit
      production: some nurseries sell red plastic pads for this job: I
      chose to make mine from natural dies and free newspapers.

      I did some green the same way under 2 pepper plants. Just to
      experiment if it makes me more peppers than the other ones mulched
      just like these, cept with no dye.

      I mulch other things with newspapers as well as tomatoes.
      Peppers: to reflect sunlight back up on the underside of the leaves.
      Cucumbers: the ones I let ramble across the garden: to keep the
      fruits from rotting, and to help me spot them better.

      You'd think I truly was a nut if I told you I also mulched the 3
      sisters with newspaper.

      I use small stones to hold the papers in place. Or dirt clods if I
      find them. Small sticks would work better because in the fall the
      sticks can stay put, not have to be moved like the stones do. But
      I've used most of the small sticks for kindling in my wood stove.

      If you til the soil, the newspapers will help keep down growth of
      weeds, and things that may be in competition with your garden
      plants. And, newspaper breaks down usually by summer's end, and is
      easily tilled into your soil to ready it for your winter cover crop.

      Jon Wood-Organic Homestead Gardener in Kentucky: zone 6B along the
      Cumberland river. My gardens have been chemical free for over 50
      years.
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