How to garden free: newspaper and cardboad hacks

How to garden free and environmentally friendly is always on my mind and I love using newspaper and especially cardboard. For many, using it in organic food gardens is an ongoing debate.

Both have been used widely as a mulch, natural weed killer, and as potting cups.

As newspaper and cardboard breaks down, carbon is released into the soil. Carbon is an essential element to healthy soil.

The golden rule, according to the experts, is to use only plastic-free cardboard without glossy print and newspapers without colored inks. Currently newspapers are printed with safer inks such as soy ink and the general consensus is that it can safely be used.

How to garden free: 8 x Top Hacks with newspaper and cardboard boxes. These make life EASY!

1) Make your own biodegradable seedling pots out of newspaper:

The internet is full of different origame instructions. Or follow the world’s simplest method ever:
-Tear the double sheet into 2 pieces.
-Roll a longish cone.
-Fold the point over the edge, into the wide mouth, to secure the shape and close the bottom off. With this very basic shape is, your pots are meant to sit in a box together until planting day. They will not stand by themselves.
-Repeat until you have enough, and place them snug enough into the temporary box, pre-planting.
-You now have biodegradable planting pots ready to fill with soil. So go ahead and buy heirloom seeds!

2) sowing your heirloom seeds and raising seedlings without competitive weeds can be done if you start the process with the help of a weed blanket:

-Add wet newspaper sheets to a raked surface. Make sure to overlap them well to ensure great coverage.
-After designing your planting scheme, draw or paint the outline design on to the sheets.
-Cut out the ‘pattern’ of your planting spaces (the “holes” where the plants will grow through). Secure the sheets down with rocks if it is windy.

Now you can start with your sowing can be done followed by a layer of compost and mulch.

3) Create a perfect 50/50 carbon/nitrogen compost booster:

Add shredded newspaper to the same ratio as foliage to your compost. Tip: run over a few newspaper sheets next time you mow the lawn. Shredded newspaper to the compost bin is like a sprinkling of fairy dust.

4) Trap pests the easy way: Place damp newspaper is an alluring place around plants/trees before night fall, and pick them up the next morning with all the quilty visitors underneath.

5) Lasagne gardening on a base of newspaper:

Create a moistened bed of newspaper (1cm thick layer) and add on top:
– layer of small sticks and twigs
– layer of foliage
– layer of shredded color-ink-paper
– layer of compost and soil
– repeat all these steps except the bottom base (which you only do once). * Keep moist and covered with a mulch. After 2 months, you will be left with a most fertile, magic planting bed for your heirloom seeds to be sown.

6) Create an instant cost and maintenance-free pathway with cardboard boxes:
Open up your plastic-free, non-glossy cardboard boxes and overlap/lay them to form your path. Weigh down with a few rocks here and there. Follow up with mulch, wood chips or gravel. You may need to add a new cardboard sheet every other year.
How to garden free includes this very cheap, or free method – plus, you will never deal with a single weed.

7) Instant fix to impossible sand or clay soils:
Collect smaller plastic-free and non-glossy carboard boxes such as wine boxes. Dig a hole where you wish to plant, insert the box, but filled with good soil and compost. Plant next with the chosen plant, or sow your heirloom seeds in situs and finally cover the area with mulch so that the box is out of sight. This method works very well! The box will eventually break down, to further enrich the soil.

8) Easiest method to minimize weeds and maximize water: Tear up cardboard boxes that have no plastic or glossy print. Place these around your shrubs and trees, not quite over-lapping but close to. The ideais for water to easily get through the gaps, to the roots of your plants, but to beclose enough to suppressweeds. These cardboard sheets will become soil food in time and putting new cardboard carpets down will be needed now and then. Cover all areas inbetween plants that you wish to keep clean. Cover and hide with mulch.

These simple methods are game changers!

Farming in small backyards: Urban homesteading.

Farming in small backyards vs growing gardens simply for ornamental reasons, which are now as outdated as owning a Prince Albert tea set that may almost never be used. Farming in cities and towns, known as urban agriculture, is the future and possibly the planet’s saving grace.

Where to start when considering farming in small backyards?
Combine edible and ornamental plants, insect and animals and micro-climates to create a sustainable ecosystem. The outcome should be a beautifully space to harvest food and also relax in.

Edible and ornamental plants are grown side by side as companions (see https://gardeningeden.net/2019/10/28/companion-planting/ ) to attract beneficial, and deter harmful pests. This really works! Your need for pest control will drop dramatically. Always plant successively so that you harvest today, next week and the week after from the same type of plant by sowing plant types 10 days apart.

Container gardens are a great consideration in regards to farming in small backyards: turn a little (possibly rented) outdoor space or window area into a small urban farm. This is an easy and cheap answer to most people.

Most importantly, the focus needs to be on polyculture (a word to describe growing many different plant types together) which will maximize yields. Combining climbing plants on a corn plant (which acts as a trellis) with pumpkins at their feet (to shade out weeds and help with water retention) is a great example. In order to do this successfully, you will need to feed your soil with compost. This is a great opportunity to stay within your own loop and use your own kitchen and garden waste to create soil food (see how to compost easily: https://gardeningeden.net/2019/11/06/diy-compost-easily)

Animal inclusion does not come easier than keeping quails (for smaller gardens) or chickens. Quails can be kept in a mobile upside-down chicken-wire “box” that allows them to move on bare earth but be protected from predators. They can thus be constantly moved to new spaces. Make sure the size of this wire-basket is big enough to allow their bodies to take up only 10% of the entire space and the rest is for moving around. Provide water and top-up food. Chickens and quails provide free pest control, fertilizer and eggs. It’s a win-win situation.

Ornamental plants are grown to attract pollinators or feed your bee hive if you have one. Group larger numbers of flower plants and herbs together because insects need spot these plashes from far away or they will fly to your neighbour’s. Would you like to see a plant list of pollinator attracting plants? Check these out: https://gardeningeden.net/2019/10/30/bee-gardening/
Alternatively, keep your own bee hive. It’s never been this easy. Check out the mason jar method: https://gardeningeden.net/2019/11/25/is-mason-jar-beekeeping-method/