So after picking up a lot of great info from this site, my compost bin hasn't seen much action for several months. I chop and drop instead of chop and compost. I dump all kitchen waste straight to the chickens for them to pick over. All big wood trimmings are saved in the woodpile (either for the proposed RSMH or hugelkultur). I tipped out my compost a few months ago and the bin has been empty since. However, the one organic material which I collect and don't have a ready onsite disposal for is paper. I used to compost it with the rest of the kitchen and garden trimmings and while I use some newspaper for emergency cleaning (dog puke, anyone?), the rest of it now goes in the paper recycling. I feel like I'm losing out on a resource, especially since my soil is in serious need of amendment. Any thoughts on how to compost or otherwise use it for my soil?
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
posted 6 years ago
I use some cardboard and paper feed sacks as occasional weed suppression material as long as it has no colored ink but for the most part I am happy taking any other paper/cardboard/pasteboard to our recycling center. I've never used paper as feedstock in my compost. I want to know the ingredients in my compost and I just don't trust the paper manufacturing process to be free of toxins.
I don't think you are missing out on any soil improvement by recycling your paper.
edited to add...I realize my position comes from having an abundance of natural materials literally falling at my feet and from spending years on the local recycling board trying to encourage folks to quit burning their paper and bring it to recycling...and doing enough research into paper manufacturing to be doubtful of its safety. It's really just a choice you make for yourself and your comfort zone.
"We're all just walking each other home." -Ram Dass
"Be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder."-Rumi
Loose ideas on paper:
1. If you're not already using urine, adding this to a paper-based compost might give it the necessary nitrogen to break it down.
2. Paper makes wonderful, easily crumbled biochar. Inoculated with urine and enjoy a long-lasting soil amendment.
3. Throw soft paper, like newspring, to the chickens with everything else. Dampen it slightly and they will shred it up and make it disappear into the general compost.
4. As stated above, paper makes a good sheetmulch for suppressing weeds. Larger pieces are better, but I've even used office paper, etc. provided it's several layers thick and overlapping....
you could also use them to grow some aggressive saprophytic mushrooms, like oysters
the list above is some good ideas though that i didn't think too much about
i suppose finely ground paper, plus droppings falling from a rabbit hutch could make for some fine vermicompost - though i have no experience just knowledge from interwebs research
also, you could possibly run the future rocket mass heater off of said paper and save all those twigs for outside, where they can contribute to overall organic matter in the soil and such - with a damn near guarentee of having no bad toxins in them that could "possibly" be in paper thats been seperated fiber by fiber via chemical processes rather than more natural methods - didn't somebody say they ran their RMH entirely off of junk mail for an entire winter?
Wow, so many cool ideas; I don't know which one to try first! I've actually previously put in small soft paper bags with the kitchen waste to give to the chickens and they seem to break down it quite quickly. I also toyed with the idea of a worm bin last summer, so perhaps it's time to resurrect that notion. And oyster mushrooms too!