bouncing a thought off you all

We shred a lot of paper in my household and part of me keeps wondering if there is something better than just sending it off with the weekly recycling.
I've added it to the compost bin and to a few holes left by stump removal with compost and such. While it doesn't break down quickly, it does rot eventually.
BUT - I was wondering how it would work as a weed suppressing mulch. And more importantly, if I soaked small batches with coffee grounds and tea bags if I could make it look better at the same time
Thoughts folks?
Cheryl
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No real experience here but I think it would work well. I use newspaper in the bottom of the planting holes and around the plants. Helps with water control and weeds. As with a lot of things in gardening, try it and then let us know how it works :) MJ
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If you had chooks, I'd suggest you put in the chook's nesting boxes or just in their yard with scratch mix sprinkled in it and add weeds as well so they could turn it into pre-compost material.
I'm not a fan of paper in the garden as, living in a climate that is often hot and dry, I've found that laying sheets of newspaper out has a tendency to form a mat that expells water. It does work to ameliorate weeds but I find it's high maintenance stuff and I've come to like the contemplative aspect of weeding.
I do ahve a friend who uses what I'd call 'chipped' paper in her garden sprinkled like icing sugar (confectioner's sugar in USian). The paper is put through some for of shredder in a legal firm and is the bits of paper are so small that they are not much smaller than the size of a grain of rice. As a very, very thin mulch, this stuff seems to break down quite qucikly in comparison to sheets of paper and serves as a good form of summer shading on the soil.
I suggest you give it a try and report back as it's alwyas worth a try. If you are going to dye it in batches, I suspect you'll probalby get sick of doing that in a short time anyway and can thus do an experimental sized bit of your garden. Good luck.
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Cheryl Isaak wrote:

if you don't like how it looks reserve some soil when you work it in a patch and then top off the area with the reserved soil. if you don't have to disturb the bed for a few weeks it should work. throwing the coffee grounds on top of this would also help perk things up (haha, sorry couldn't resist :) ).
well mixed in, it will decay faster than if it clumps together.
a thick layer on top that gets wet and then dries will be pretty crusty and might keep oxygen and water from getting in later.
i don't like plastic bits in the gardens i always take apart any plastic windowed envelopes and throw away that part, but the rest gets used (i think the worms like the glue).
songbird
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On 3/21/11 8:11 PM, songbird wrote:

crusty, I'm going to see if it helps a kill off grass!
Cheryl
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Cheryl Isaak wrote: ...

put down thick enough it will certainly smother grass. the size of the area and the types of grass will determine how long it will take before the grasses come back (hard to eliminate).
songbird
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Cheryl Isaak wrote:

Paper is quite suitable for both purposes. In the compost mix it in with other stuff, including those with some nitrogen, and keep it damp and it will rot more quickly. For mulch it may be better to not shred it as it tends to blow around. A local orchard uses huge amounts of newspapers still folded laying them down in circles around all the trees so that the fold side covers the edge of the newspaper next to it, this stops the edges blowing open in the wind. It doesn't look pretty but it works.
David
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It works great, but it looks better if you cover it with mulch. I use overlapping sheets to suppress weeds. FarmI is right that initially it will block part of any rainfall, but that is only for a few weeks and then it starts degrading. I usually just punch holes through the mulch and newsprint to plant, and then the watering is done with drip at the hole. I use drip with emmitters every 12', or every 6".
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