newspaper as a winter cover (garden) : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

In the past , I have posted here , looking for easy winter cover for my garden. Had plenty of ideas, each one I posted, someone always posted an answer that showed a problem with the idea. Here I go again. Newsprint now is required to be printed with environmentaly freindly ink (no lead or toxins). My idea is to lay sheets off newspaper over my garden squares with just enough dirt on top to keep it in place. I figure that I can spray nutrients right onto the paper and let it leach in. In early spring, till it into the topsoil/humus mix. It should be fairly well decomposed, provide some aeration and loosening to the soil and feed for the worms. What are your opinions on this as a cover "crop"?

-- Jay Blair (, November 05, 2000


I haven't used newspaper as a winter cover, but I do use it as my first layer of mulch, under hay in the summertime. I put down 3 or 4 layers, very close to the plants, layer on the hay, and leave it alone. By the end of summer, the newsprint is decomposed enough to just till it right in. I don't know why it wouldn't work in winter.

-- melina b. (, November 05, 2000.

I had heard it was good for use with mulch layers. The reason I am wanting to try it for winter, last year we used the rye grass,tilled it under for the nitrogen, grass kept sprouting. This season I want the squares weed and grass free, plan to use a commercial nitrogen supplement instead.

-- Jay Blair (, November 05, 2000.

I think it would work just fine, Jay, although you might have a problem with papers blowing away if you didn't put enough dirt on them. Or you could go through the streets of the nearest city, picking up the piles of leaves ready for collection and use those. If you layer them on thickly enough, they kill weeds. Some leaves will blow off though. Got any burlap sacks to put over them? Or some of that bird netting (like for fruit trees).

I killed the grass where I didn't want it by covering it with about 3 sheets of papers on top of the grass, held down by wood chips from chipped up tree limbs. It was my ultimate recycle project (so far). Newspapers were used to line the bird cages, then put out to kill the grass. Bird poop on the papers was extra fertilizer.

-- Joy Froelich (, November 06, 2000.

Jay, just think how smart those plants will be "absorbing" all that info! As my Grandpa used to say "that's a right smart lookin' garden" John

-- john in S. IN (, November 06, 2000.

What I was told by our organic extension agent was not to use paper that way bc the cellulose take long to break down.She did ok what we do, which is use it as a summer mulch then till it in at end of the year.

I no longer plant annual rye for the reason mentioned.We are trying hairy vetch & annual wheat, this year to see if that problem can be resolved.If you are warm enough, what abt. peas,or fenugreek or fava beans as your cover crop?

We also have put down a thick layer of hay in the fall, then planted early crops right in it.That worked OK but was a little hard to plant in.

-- sharon wt (, November 06, 2000.

Jay, In the book "Lasagna Gardening" the author uses newspaper as the first layer of her "lasagna". Subsequent layers are peat moss, leaves, hay, etc to build up a good bed for gardening. It's best to do this in the fall, so the bed is ready in the spring. Earthworms like the newspaper, and are often found right beneath it in the spring, and these little critters would help create good garden soil. I got the book from the library. Check it out! Mary Fraley

-- Mary Fraley (, November 06, 2000.

Hey folks, if we use the election sections, think of the fertilizer value...!!!!!!!

-- Leann Banta (, November 06, 2000.

Leann, If I used the political pages, I would be afraid of burning the crops. That strong of fertilizer has a half life of 4 to 8 years.

Thanks for the ideas folks.

-- Jay Blair in N. AL (, November 08, 2000.

Heck, when we put our old and new beds 'to bed' we use layers of newspapers, dampened. We alternate with straw or hay, leaves, and compost, did I mention leaves? This creates a great, low-weed bed for the next year. Also check out the book "Your Edible Landscape".

-- Anne (, November 08, 2000.

Hey Jay & LeAnn-now you politicos -you just keep that out of the garden section,ya hear? Give us at least that little bit of peace & quiet,won't you?

Our gardens are our santuary,it'swhere we go to get away from the squables of life.When I get too weary to read the other postings any more, I go to the how to's for a respite,esp.on gardening since it's what I live for.So,Leave me my santuary, PLEEEEAAASSSEEE! No offence.

-- sharon wt (, November 09, 2000.

In my mind the very best cover for a gerden is winter wheat. In the spring when you are ready to turn your garden under the wheat will provide you with a green manure/free compost which will help your soil PH

-- Mike Settle (, November 12, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ