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Putting shredded paper in my garden beds  RSS feed

 
Karl Teceno
Posts: 91
Location: Portland Maine
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   Over the course of the winter, I have been shredding the junk mail and computer paper with an office shredder. (You wouldn't believe the volume) I have accumulated several large bags. I was careful not to add glossy paper or plastic from the envelope windows.
   I am going to be making more garden beds in the spring. I am thinking about mixing the shredded paper with compost and peat moss to fill the beds. I know that some of the nitrogen gets tied up in the breaking down process but can any one think of any other draw backs? If I do this, what percentage of the material should be shredded paper ?
  Thoughts? Suggestions? Ideas?
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
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i have had good success with shredded paper and cardboard combos in my garden..the paper will mat down ..as a mulch...and kill the weeds and even grasses that it covers..what i tend to do is mix it with the weeds i pull from the garden and some of the bark that comes off of our 20 cord of firewood we burn in our community furnace here.

i add some char when we clean it out too..

i also have added to the compost pile and the cocmpost tumbler and it appears to be workinig really well in that aspect as well.

i am not as fussy about separating it as some are..as it was suggested on this forum to add styrofoam to lighten your soil..so what is a little of the plastic going to hurt shredded it will add lighteness to the soil and provide some air entry spaces..i don't fuss to separate it..just shred it all ..mostly a lot of food cartons as i'm not in an office.
 
tel jetson
steward
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Location: woodland, washington
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might depend on your shredder.  true story: I shredded confidential documents in the middle of the night for a software company for about three years.  the shredder I used cut the paper into tiny pieces, and they tended to stick together horribly when they got wet.  my first use for them was as worm bedding, but it wasn't particularly good for that.  tried to compost some after that, and it just made unmanageable clumps of paper that never broke down or mixed in with the rest of the compost.

a shredder that makes paper noodles might result in a more usable product for garden use.

now I would like to divert you all onto a junk mail tangent: you can tape a business reply postcard or envelope to a box, fill that box up, and send whatever ridiculous crap you want to back to bulk mailers at their own expense.  maybe not an activity for the eco-saint/purist/martyr, but it's very gratifying and I recommend it.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
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Location: North Central Michigan
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mine does elongated triangles..i do a lot of food container cardboard though..the thinner cardboard..along with my junk mail..so there is a mix of more than one kind of stuff shredded..not just a lot of white paper.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
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Location: Oakland, CA
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Office paper has minerals added, usually chalk or kaolin. Both are usually good for the garden, but not always so.
 
                        
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I use a  Fellowes shredder for my junk mail and paper with personal information including old bank checks.  The shredder makes 'noodles' about 1/4 inch wide.  After I get a container full of shredded paper, I put it in my rabbit cage.  Henry Rabbit makes a pile of it and burrows in on cold nights.  He has quite using his cardboard box that he used previously.

The edges of the shredded paper pile gets mixed with rabbit poop and timothy hay and bits of twigs from fruit trees that he likes to chew on.  This I should clean out more often than I do.  But it goes directly into the garden beds, layered with finely shredded pine bark mulch and old used potting soil.  This is the soil for my raised beds which expand in 4 x 4 ft units.
The beds are contained by old cement blocks that I found on the property.

If you need a lighter soil --- which I don't--- I would try to find horticultural grade perlite
and mix it in.  I use perlite, peat moss, and finely shredded pine bark to pot up plants so this is the mix that I call 'old potting soil' after it is used one or two years for growing plants.

I also put prunings cut into 3 or 6 in pieces, old dead plants and kitchen waste in the garden beds -- anything organic.

I do not make compost -- rabbit poop does not need to be composted and kitchen scraps do fine in the bottom of the beds without composting.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
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updating a comment on shredded paper..

i used some as a mulch last year and it did glue iteslf together in a mat..but once i forked over it it broke up but was still in it's shreds..not rotted.

however

i did put some combined shredded paper and cardbaord in the compost tumbler and it didn't do that..it stayed loose and mixed well with the other items in the tumber..didn't glue itself into a matt..this was as i said combined with shredded cardboard..but so was the mulch from last year..maybe not as much cardboard though.

so..in conclusion..i think it might work best if composted first..and turned as my tumbler does..often enough to keep it loose
 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
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Location: Oakland, CA
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I seldom turn my compost, and it eats 3" wide strips of cardboard for breakfast.

I'm using sheets of cardboard that span the whole pile, with other sorts of layers interspersed of course. It seems to work so far, though I think it's only appropriate for the wet season. I'll report back.
 
                        
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I think it does help to keep the paper moist and to water the cardboard periodically if there is no rain.  I just cleaned my rabbit cages today and I didn't find any matted paper.  The rabbits work it around to suit them - keeping it pretty fluffy.
 
                              
Posts: 461
Location: Inland Central Florida, USA
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Some people have strong feeling against using paper/cardboard in the garden but we use it.  Make a point to avoid throwing away stuff to the landfill unless it is plastic or non bio-degradable.  During certain times of the year, the trash only goes out say once in three weeks.

Anyway, I once tried shredded paper in the worm bins, I won't put much paper in the worm bins anymore since it did tend to make paper mashae clumps that didn't break down well.  Shredded corrugated cardboard on the other hand makes great worm bedding and doesn't clump the way paper does.

In the garden or compost, it is good to mix shredded paper with other stuff to keep it from clumping or matting really bad (grass clippings or leaves can matt too if not mixed with other stuff.)  So I would recommend against using too thick a layer of cross cut shredded paper too high up in say a lasagna bed but if you mixed that shredded paper with say grass clippings you might have something good going.
 
Laurie Dyer
Posts: 73
Location: Suburbs Salt Lake City, Utah 6a 24 in rain 58 in snow
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I work at an elementary school and at the end of the school year, there're bags and bags of shredded paper. I've composted them, but, like the others have mentioned, you don't want to add a whole bunch at once. I just put in about a five gallon bucket's worth every couple days, mixing it in as I go.

Last year I tried something that worked really well. I soaked shredded paper in water along with a couple handfuls of dried clay. I let it sit for a couple days then drained the excess water. What I ended up with was a thick, goopy mixture. I used this mixture to create mini berms (swales?) around my plants that were on a slope. It helped hold the water in surprisingly well. I also used it to build up the border around our in-ground trampoline.

When I checked on these last week, they are still there, still unrotted. Of course, it is very very dry here in Utah. But we've had loads of snow and rain this winter...
 
wayne fajkus
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Sounds interesting laurie. Do you have any pics?

We shred junk mail.  It's used in chicken laying boxes. I'm also adding it as mulch to blackberries and asparaugus. Trying to choke out some bermuda.
 
Laurie Dyer
Posts: 73
Location: Suburbs Salt Lake City, Utah 6a 24 in rain 58 in snow
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Here are a couple photos near the tramp; I was experimenting with building up the soil level. I made the berm, then added topsoil.
20170222_071720.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20170222_071720.jpg]
Closeup of paper berm
20170222_071732.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20170222_071732.jpg]
Paper berm
 
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