Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Trying to Be Cheap in My Garden...

I have never had a "real" garden before. Like one that I actually cared about. Until this year. Now I have to say - just walking into Lowe's or Home Depot can be very overwhelming. All these bags of different dirts and mulches and plant food. I'm usually lost in the sauce and don't even know how to ask the teenage worker what I'm looking for....well anyways...

I'm thinking ahead for my garden and weed control. Mulch and grass clippings are great things to scatter on your garden once your plants are bigger to control weeds and trap heat (at least that's what people on the internet seem to say). Here's the problem - my lawn mower doesn't have a bag and I'm too lazy to rake up the grass clippings. Then comes in mulch, on the surface it's not too expensive - $3 for a bag of mulch, but if you need 6 or 7 bags, you're talking $20. It just seems like a lot for just some mulch. I mean, one of the benefits of gardening should be that the vegetables cost less than what you could buy them for, right? So far, including my little fence I bought, I'm up to about $36 spent on my gardening. $11 for seeds and those pod things, $10 for 6 tomato plants, $7 for my little fence & $8 for potting soil (I still have leftovers and used some in flowerpots). I'm not counting the flower cost because those were a gift from my husband. I think those were probably about $8 though.

So I've been researching using newspaper as mulch. The University of West Virginia put out a good article about it. You can read it HERE.

The Chicago Tribute reported in 2007 that newspaper is safe to use in the garden: HERE! The comment section is pretty funny - I guess someone doesn't agree!

And lastly, a very good article written by George Weigel at

I guess there is still debate about whether or not the ink chemicals pose health risks (from what I gathered, most newspapers use soy ink or something organic like that. Not so us cheap gardeners can have free mulch, but so that the newspaper workers could work in a safe environment...) -BUT! The USDA recommends newspaper as mulch as well. I'll trust the USDA and make this my little experiment. Have you ever used newspaper as mulch? I'm not going to use things like the Parade magazine or more "glossy" inserts. But the regular sections I'm going to shred and try. This will be my cheap, Eco-friendly experiment...


Casey (EcOnomical Mom) said...

Great tip!!
This has always been a life saver for me. I despise weeding! I've always used newspapers, but this is the first year that I have actually shred them. In the past (as whole sheets), they haven't broken down as quickly as I'd like, so I'm going to try to help them along. I figure the smaller the better. It will make it more like a mulch.

Thanks for sharing!

Paula said...

You are right. The book I have has us using newspaper as well. I did get a lawn mower with a bagger this year. One because I was too lazy to want to rake and two because trimming around my yard gets done once or twice a year. Hubs isn't too good at getting it done.

shred that paper up and you can mix it with a little mulch too. Water it good through.

As for the cheap garden...I found myself spending a lot more than I wanted too however think about how much will last over the years like the fencing and any tomato holders, etc. People had gardens for hundreds of years before we decided to use 'special stuff'