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Cardboard and newspaper

South Florida, FL(Zone 10b)

Hello, I was wondering if anyone has any advice. I am doing my best to have a purely organic / natural garden, but I live in South Florida and it is a challenge with extremely sandy soil. The more organic matter I can get in my garden the better, but i live in a county that is pretty much one big city. Finding free stuff or cheap stuff is nearly impossible. There are no farms to ask for manure, hay, and even fall leaves are hard to come buy (trees don't lose all their leaves down here). Anyway, someone told me that no cardboard or newspaper should ever get thrown out. It should all go in the garden. I've heard of the layering to control weeds with it. My question is, is cardboard and newspaper really adding anything good to your soil? Is there anything in it that will actually help build real soil out of sand? Hopefully someone can help....

Lynnwood, WA

Though paper products might add something to soil(albeit not all good), I would suggest the use of an appropriate cover crop. You could always contact your local extension services to ask what they suggest for your area

http://solutionsforyourlife.ufl.edu/hot_topics/agriculture/cover_crops.shtml

wish you gardening success

I've never heard of anyone using newspapers as nutrients for their soil. However, I know you can use papers and old magazines to cover up weeds so they'd die from no sun light.
Anyway, after a quick online research I discovered this document on gardening is sandy soils https://forestry.usu.edu/files/uploads/UFF029FINAL.pdf I hope you find it useful.

Hampton, VA(Zone 7b)

I lived in Jax for most of my adult life, grew edibles and flowers with a lot of success and have a few suggestions:

-cardboard/newspaper can be used over grass to kill weeds and create the bottom for a raised bed (you add your own good quality dirt not affected by sand). Doesn't add nutrients, but it is very effective for starting a raised bed without needing to attack that dreaded crab grass.

-Grab logs from trees/rotting wood scraps that have been cut down, dig the bed and line the bottom with them, then layer quality dirt over - the wood will slowly decay and rot, adding nutrients - VERY EFFECTIVE. You can actually plant directly into rotting wood by hollowing out the inside and adding dirt. I'm currently doing this in my raised beds in VA as well and it's amazing how much beneficial life it attracts. Definitely recommend.

-create a worm composting bin/pile using red wigglers with food scraps, shredded cardboard, coffee grounds and egg shells. Worm castings are crazy good for plants and won't burn like regular fertilizer.

-When you mow your lawn, save the grass clippings and use them to start a compost pile (combine finely chopped produce scraps with dry/deads). You can also bury small amounts of food scraps in your garden (they need to be chopped well and buried so as to avoid smell and animals)

This message was edited Mar 19, 2017 7:38 AM

This message was edited Mar 19, 2017 7:40 AM

South Florida, FL(Zone 10b)

Thanks Fyresongbird! I am doing all of those things except the rotting wood, but it sounds like a good idea. Actually, this year I tried the buried hay / straw bail under the garden beds. Good for short term, but I'm sure the wood is much better long term.

I use the grass clippings and such mixed with woodchips for mulch. Also have a compost bin and worm bin. I have to keep the worms in the garage or they'll cook in the Florida heat, but they are going good.

I just heard someone down here talking about cardboard breaking down in the soil helping to hold water etc. Not that it adds nutrients. I didn't want to use the newspaper because I didn't like the idea of the ink in the soil. Thank you for your suggestions!

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Print ink in newspapers and magazines has been soy based since 1997. It is completely safe for edible gardens.

South Florida, FL(Zone 10b)

Allegedly :-p

New York City, NY

Never heard of it

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