Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Newspapers: Garden Tips A to Z

Do you have any other tips for growing or using corn?  Share your tips in a comment!


I love newspapers.  However, I hate to admit that I don't read too much in them, purely out of lack of time. (I have to apologize to my sister here who was a former newspaper journalist!)  I save my coupon inserts, so stay tuned for a post on my quick and easy coupon method.  And I have a neat pile of papers just waiting for their many uses in the garden and around the farm!

Garden Mulch
This is my secret weapon in the garden!  My mom used sheets of newspaper as mulch in her garden since I was a kid.  It suppresses weeds and retains moisture in the soil.  Plus, it's biodegradable so it can be easily tilled into the dirt the next spring and becomes rich compost.

To apply a newspaper mulch:  After planting, spread a layer of newspaper 2-3 sheets thick over the dirt.  Only use non-glossy newspaper and make sure to overlap the edges to prevent weeds from growing between sheets.  Cover with grass clippings or straw to prevent paper from blowing away.  This works great in both paths and between plants.  I have used this in my vegetable garden, around trees, in flower beds, and garden paths.  I think it looks really nice and solves my weed problems.

This year's seedling pots made with a Pot-Maker.
To smother weeds with newspaper:  Weeds sometimes pop up before I even get a chance to mulch, but you can smother most weeds with paper instead of pulling them.  I have also used this method on areas of grass that I wanted to turn into a garden.  If possible without damaging your lawnmower or weed-whacker, trim the weeds or grass short and lay down paper and then grass clippings.  If you can't trim first, just lay 5-6 sheets of paper on top, while pushing the weeds flat, and immediately top with grass clippings to hold the paper down.  (The key is to weigh the paper down as much as possible.  Freshly-cut grass clippings work best for this since they are heavier with moisture.  I have even used a few rocks here and there on top of the paper to hold down particularly fierce weeds.  You can also dunk the paper in a bucket of water right before laying it down.)  The weeds will weaken within a few days and the mulch will lay flat on the ground.

d Make Your Own Seed-Starting Pots
My husband bought me the Pot-Maker a few years ago for making my own seed pots and they work great.  I have some tomatoes, broccoli, and peppers growing in them right now.  It's inexpensive, easy, and the pots will decompose in the soil when planted (plus no root disturbance during planting).  For a tutorial and my own helpful tricks, visit my post on Making Newspaper Seedling Pots.

d Ripen Green Tomatoes
I'm always stuck with lots of green tomatoes when the frost hits in the fall and kills the plants.  You can use this ripening method for any green tomatoes that are starting to turn pink.  The ones that are really green will have to become Fried Green Tomatoes instead!
Pick tomatoes and wrap each one in a sheet of newspaper.  Store them in a warm spot in a deep tray or box (like on top of the refrigerator).  They will ripen slowly, which is nice so you can have fresh tomatoes into the fall months..  Check often to catch them from over-ripening.

Store tubers in newspaper.
I have a collection of beautiful canna that must be dug up and stored in the cellar during the winter.  After the first frost kills the foliage, I dig up the tuberous roots, brush off the dirt, cut off the stalk, and lay them in a single layer in a newspaper-lined box.  Most tender tubers can be stored the same way.

Prevent rust on garden tools.
At the end of the gardening season, wash, oil, and wrap tools in newspaper to prevent rust.

d Compost
Small amounts of newspaper can be added to the compost pile at a time.  Tear it into a few strips, pull some of the pages apart, and add it as layer to the pile.  Avoid adding glossy paper, though.

d Make Seed Cards
We made "seed cards" this Valentine's Day, but seed cards could be made for many occasions.  We made hand-made paper from old newspaper and copy paper and embedded seeds.  We included directions for the recipients to plant the cards and watch their plants grow this summer.  You can see my directions and post here for Making Seed Cards.

d In The Chicken Coop
One of my most disliked jobs in the chicken coop is cleaning the droppings board below the roost.  Chickens sleep on the roost and do a lot of pooping as they sleep, hence the need for a droppings board to catch it all.  It can get pretty caked on and hard to scrape.  After I scrape and haul out the poop, I line the board with several layers of newspaper.  It makes it easier to scrape and the used paper can go into the compost pile with the manure.

My hens and rooster in their outdoor pen.


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