Simple garden trick allows you to Recycle old newspapers, while combating weeds, and it even will regulate water by reducing evaporation and slowly filtering water through. all this and it will even help regulate temprature a little bit too.
I have used this in many garden applications, it works extremely well for strawberries, less of them get bug eaten, and they are even out of the dirt.
the ink in newspapers is now soy based, and over time it slowly degrades into the garden soil.
Materials: Old Newspapers
water (Our spiket doesnt work right now, so I used this wagon which was left out and collected rain.)
a garden patch.
Step 1: Choose and Prep Your Paper
*First of all, you need to choose your paper. the best choice is black text newspaper. I think if i wanted heavier paper, or to overwinter I would use brown paper bags. You can even choose the brown craft or packing paper if it will be the thickness you want.
Thicker paper should be reserved for the bases of established plants because it will not allow much sunlight at all through.
Thinner paper, and less sheets are able to be used over seeds with out poking holes in them. Just check for growth regularly.
* The paper needs to be wet to mold to the shape of the ground and to stay put. This can be done multiple ways. Spray the soil so that it is wet, lay out paper, and spray it again
or lay paper in the water 1-3 sheets at a time. NOTE it is very difficult to separate paper once it is wet.
Step 2: Placing Your Paper Over Seeded Patch
Spread the wet paper out over the whole patch. Areas that have seeds you will want to keep it very thin, between rows where you did not plant seeds use multiple sheets.
Sun will penetrate the first layer of paper, just keep checking for growth. When your plant breaks the surface, tear the paper around it. Add more wet paper to the area's between the seedlings to reduce weeds.
As you are working, if it is windy you will need to hold the paper down as you go. I liked to use sticks or rocks.
Step 3: Finishing Up the Seedling Patch
If you are working in a raised bed, tuck the edges of the newspaper along the edges of the bed.
With your moist paper, press down along the soil. you will want it to be pressed down and shaped to the soil below it. This will allow the paper to stay better. Adding extra water at this point is a great idea.
You will NEED to hold down the paper, because when it dries it will be light weight again and want to blow away.
DO NOT use soil to do this, because it will defeat the purpose, weeds will grow on top of the soil.
I use what is on hand. I have used old dried stems of other plants like the sweet peas seen here, driftwood, and rocks. If you are using the dried stems use enough that it will hold it down if there is wind.
Step 4: Using Garden Paper With Established Seedlings or Plants
Wet paper like before and move it in next to the plants to choose how you will work it.
In this plot, I have just planted some blueberry bushes and there are some strawberries that were planted when I moved here this year.
The main point of using the garden paper here is to reduce weeds and it also helps to support the strawberries above the soil and reduce the bug eating and rotting of the delicious fruit. When the strawberries send runners, just poke a new hole in the paper (wet paper first) and stick it in the soil where you want them to be.)
Once you have placed the newspaper near, next to or even over the plant, you can choose to tear from the side, make a hole or even just crumple it up next to the plant.
Use several layers if you are not expecting plants to come up. If you have larger plants go with lighter layers around the perimeter of the plant, so that it is able to absorb water more easily.
Step 6: Finishing Up
With seedlings or established plants, you can go thicker, once again weigh the paper down.
Once it has been rained on or watered more, it will start to mold to the ground.
You have now reduced the number of weeds that you will need to pull this year which just makes life grand... unless you like to cook the weeds, I recommend NOT using this method on patches where Purslane grows, because it is delicious.