Gardening: The Mulch-inator

March 13th, 2013 No Comments

Cartoon 1As gardeners, I’m sure we’ve all come across those moments when we look out at our hard work and find that ever persistent weed.  They are a fact in nature and often most people turn to herbicides to counter them.  As I’ve stated before, I don’t promote the use of chemicals to see to the health and care of my garden.  If you put all those hours in to make your garden perfect then why not put a little extra time to keep it that way without endangering your health or that of your plants?  So in this post I’ll be telling you about one way to combat those pesky little creepers and get some recycling done to boot!!


What You’ll Need:

  • Newspapers, Magazines, Cardboard
  • Mulch
  • Plastic bottles (optional if you are doing this for new garden plots)


Now pick the garden area that you want to work on.  One thing you will need to do is be sure that there are no weeds currently in the area you want to work on.  I suggest pulling them and placing them on a fire to burn, or throwing them away.  Personally, I don’t like to till them into the ground as their seed usually remains and springs up more quickly and predominantly if done this way.


If it’s a large area then you will need a lot of paper and mulch.  Be sure to soak your paper until it is saturated.  I find it easiest to put them in a bin or container with water and let them sit for at least a day.  Don’t worry if the paper starts to fall apart, that won’t make a difference to what we are doing here.


If this is a new area, and doesn’t yet have plants, then this is where the plastic bottles come in.  Assuming of course that you know what you want to do with this area, lol.  If not, just skip this part.  If you are planting a stalked plant then cut the bottom of your bottle off and stick the larger remaining piece in the ground as a place holder for your plant.  If you are planning to plant a row, seeds for instance, then cut the top and bottom of your bottle, as well as cutting about 1/4 of it off long ways.  Line as many bottles as you need, end to end, to place hold your row.  Remove the bottles once you are ready to plant in those spots.


recycle_paperOnce your weed free and paper soaked start plopping your paper out on top of your soil.  You’ll want to layer it thickly, like a good inch worth.  Just rip and tear your paper items apart to get them to fit.  If this is an already established garden then just place the paper around the bases of your plants leaving a diameter of about 2 inches free.  This will prevent any lack of water to your plants while your paper biodegrades.

TIP:  Don’t have enough paper to do the area(s) you want?  Try asking your friends, family and neighbors to save their papers/mags/boxes for you.  Go to your local grocery store or news agency (those stores that sell nothing but magazines and newspapers), a lot of times they simply throw out their unsold or old boxes.  Simply put, just ask if you can take some of their paper waste off their hands.  You’d be surprised how many will let you take it for free!


s1-leaf-mulchNow that your paper layer has been put down it’s time for the mulch!  It’s best, in my opinion, to get a mixed mulch, not simply wood, but leaves and plant material.  Put this down in a thick layer over your paper.  You’ll want this layer at least 2-4 inches think.  Spread it out nice and even over your area.  Once done be sure to soak the entire area very well with water.  A good way to tell if you have watered it enough is if the water begins to stand in little pools/puddles.  Then it’s good to stop.  This will help to speed up the biodegrading process while also keeping your plants nice and moist until it’s finished and turned into a nice fertilizer.

TIP:  Try talking to your local energy company.  Why?  Well, you know those guys you see cutting back plants and trees from power-lines?  Those cuttings usually are then chopped up into mulch.  More often than not this mulch is thrown out.  If you go to them and ask for some, chances are they will either give it to you or charge you a far cheaper price than your local gardening center!  If they say no, well…  “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”  😉


That’s it, you’re done.  This is not an end all be all for weeds I must admit.  However, they will take forever to re-sprout in these areas.  When they do they will be few and far between.  Not to mention, they will be heaps easier to pull out!  This method also adds a great mulch and mild fertilizer for your plants, from the now biodegraded material you used!  Enjoy!


Have you done this to your gardens before?  How did it work for you?  I would love to hear your comments and suggestions!




About the author

I’m a Goth/Hippie who loves to try new things and dabbles in anything and everything that I find enjoyment in. That can include but is not limited to, cooking, art, digital design, jewellery making, photography, gardening, nature, animals and whatever else strikes my fancy. I’m an optimistic (occasionally) perfectionist (constantly), who can be very sarcastic (incessantly), but all in good humour. :)

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