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Newspaper as a Mulch

Posted Apr 18 2009 11:00pm

Black-ink newspaper pages will conserve moisture in the vegetable garden, according to researchers at the University of Georgia.  The newsprint  works in two ways:

    * holding moisture
    * acting as a barrier to prevent moisture loss.

Two or three sheets of newspaper is ideal, any more will prevent water getting through to the roots.

Method of newspaper mulching:

    * Place 2 or 3 sheets of newspaper on the soil, around the vegetables.
    * Thoroughly wet the paper.
    * Cover the paper with 3-5inches of fine mulch. Coarse mulches are better than nothing, but a fine one will conserve the moisture better. A crumbly, well rotted straw or compost is good.

  The mulch:

    * holds the newspaper down
    * helps hold the moisture in the soil
    * prevents evaporation from the soil surface
    * prevents weed growth

Coloured newsprint, comics and magazine sections should not be used around vegetables. Although most coloured inks are now made with food colour dyes, and they will not kill the plants, E- numbers in food colourants do have their problems. It is better not to risk having any additives on the vegetables, so stick with the black-ink newspapers.

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