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 Post subject: Newspaper in compost
PostPosted: Mon Sep 01, 2003 3:14 pm 
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Location: Saginaw (NW Fort Worth), Texas
I read in one of the Dirt Doctor's books that I could use newspaper that has been shredded in my compost pile. I am a complete beginner to this so I am hoping ya'll can help me out. :?: Is the newspaper considered a brown item like dried leaves or a green item like food stuffs? Can you tell me what kind of ratio to look for? Also - can I put grass clippings in there too?
Many thanks for any replies!
:mrgreen: Nina :-)


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 Post subject: NEWSPAPER
PostPosted: Mon Sep 01, 2003 4:50 pm 
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A lot of newspapers use ink that shouldn't be used in compost. Grass clippings are fine if they haven't been subjected to non-organic junk.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 01, 2003 5:38 pm 
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nina norman-
Newspaper is a carbon or brown. The master composter class taught us to use a 30-1 ratio of carbon to nitrogen or brown to green. That is difficult to do but if you keep dry leaves or newspaper in a plastic bag near your compost pile you can add a big handful whenever you throw in some green. Grass clippings can be used but they tend to clump up and go anaerobic so I would let them dry out and use them as a brown. Why are you collecting grass clippings? They should be mulched (composted) right on your lawn.
BTY, everything will compost over time no matter what the ratio. It just goes faster when you have the correct ratio, keep it like a moist sponge and turn the pile often.
Tony M


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 02, 2003 8:58 am 
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There is absolutely no concerns today in modern hot composting processes when using any kind of newspapers. All newspapers today use totally 100% biodegradable inks. mostly soy based inks. Even some heavy metals in papers, is no big deal for composting microbes. (NOTE: There are heavy metals in healthy carnivorous manures like chicken poop!) Only the old organic books used to discourage newspapers in composting. Also it is safe to use more shredded, moistirized, cardboards in a hot pile, if you run out of browns. I only use paper or 100% cotton rags in my piles, when I'm really low on leaves or straw.

The main ingredients in paper products that aerobic microbes love is of course the carbon. Many papers have decomposed cellulose in it. The carbons, carbohydrates, starches, fats, and cellulose from "browns" (high carbon sources) are all important in the manufacturing of humus in the soil. The "greens" don't do this. The "greens" (high nitrogen sources) normally supply the protein/ammonium nitrogen, aerobic microbes, most plant nutrients, and the internal heating and reproduction foods as the microbes digest, grow, and multiply in the organic matter.

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 Post subject: Composting clippngs
PostPosted: Tue Sep 02, 2003 9:16 am 
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Tony M wrote:
nina norman-
Why are you collecting grass clippings? They should be mulched (composted) right on your lawn. Tony M


Thank you very much for your help. To be honest, we are collecting the grass clippings for fear of spreading the awful stickers and dalis grass that we have. We just moved into this house and I know for certain that there was very little care taken with it. I have one small patch of bermuda that I am trying to encourage but over 3000 sq. ft. of dalis, crabgrass, burr-like stickers and these awfully painful stickers. Next spring we are hoping to till out about 1500 sq.ft and add peat moss, topsoil and compost before we seed it. Now I am trying to figure out what I can do to get rid of all those icky grasses without using harsh chemicals. Any ideas or suggestions?

Nina N.


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 Post subject: using newspaper
PostPosted: Tue Sep 02, 2003 5:49 pm 
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captaincompostall: Newspapers do NOT use totally biodegradeable inks ALL THE TIME. They use ink that is the cheapest that their respective location will allow. I have been involved in printing for 30+ years and have a good idea what is on paper and even worse, what is going in your city sewage. I would make sure, (very sure) about your local laws regarding this. The state & federal laws usually govern.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 03, 2003 8:20 am 
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KHWOZ , you are absolutely right, my friend! There are many questionable paper factories throughout the world everywhere today. Most of the ones I'm familiar with use soy based ink for black and white newspapers. The colored paper products, I have no idea what they use. Using any paper products in an organic gardening system is a really a matter of personal choice, style, and preference. (Just like composting dog poop or human manure by some of our OG experts.)

However, my only point is that if one has an extremely hot, aerated compost pile, loaded with billions of beneficial aerobic bacteria, fungi, actinomycetes, etc. , there are very few pathogens, mild toxins, or heavy metals that will be of any real concern to a wise well managed organic soil building program. Compost buffers and balances soil pH, mineral salts, metals, various soil diseases, etc. because of the amazing work of these valuable healthy aerobic microbes.

Many lasagne gardens have been designed and used by thousands of organic gardeners today, that use various types of newspapers as layers in the stack of organic materials in the no-till garden. Apparently the earthworms have no problem digesting the organic matter, and their crops and soil are both healthy too.

I just used a thin layer of newspapers to help germinate some swiss chard and beet seeds, while suppressing weeds, on thick weeded lasagne style beds, for my new fall garden. All my no-till beds are loaded with big fat healthy earthworms.

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 Post subject: newspaper ink
PostPosted: Wed Sep 03, 2003 10:43 am 
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Captain, I agree with your last post. The black & white paper is the safest. The main problem with the ink is in the pigments. Sometimes "waste" colored ink is used to make black ink. If one wanted to be more sure as to the ink used, they can go to the news printer and ask to see their MSDS (material safety data sheet). By law, they have to show these to you.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2003 8:44 pm 
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nina norman-
Do not use peat moss and do not bring in top soil. Start improving what you have today by spraying liquid molasses, compost tea, compost or humates. Within a couple of years you will have changed and improved your soil and the nasty weeds with less cost, time and effort. Go to dchall's sticky at the beginning of the lawns section. There are numerous great tips.
Tony M


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 Post subject: white bond paper?
PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2003 12:10 pm 
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I have looked to see if anyone has addressed the use of white bond paper, office generated waste (the type with computer printing on it) that has been shredded on the compost pile. So how about it? My office generates alot and we usually shred it and then send out to recycle it. I wanted to know if I could use some as a "brown" on my compost pile during the summer when I do not have any leaves to add.

on another vane, how about it (white bond paper) for a worm bin?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2003 1:22 pm 
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I use a lot of cardboard and shredded paper and whatever newspapers they throw on my lawn uninvited. I have found the best way is to chop it up and spray with molasses and then I mix in a little CGM or manure or whatever N source is handy... Molasses definately has knocked the decomposition time down dramatically.

For your lawn I would also recommend mulching your clippings. I sharpen my mower blade with a rotary grinder (Oster dog nail grinder) to a razor edge - the mulch is basically dust when i get done and the grass is cut cleanly - dull blades are just like they are for us, a razor cut heals fast, a jagged tearing cut is infection prone and heals slow. This is one I swear by - worth a try.


Peat moss takes FOREVER to break down and seems to inhibit biological activity. One reason may be the low PH - most bacteria do not do well in acidic conditions. Use compost instead.

Given the time of year, borrow a pickup one day in November and go collect 100 bags of leaves, a load of barn waste (manure and sawdust/straw) mix'm with a cheap nitrogen like Alfalfa and spray the layers with molasses water, then just keep it damp and turn every two weeks over the winter and you'll have a kick butt pile of compost to spread in Spring. I will be giving all my beds a thick layer of finished compost in a few weeks before we get a freeze and starting my fall pile as soon as I see the leaves stacked up.

Keep that pile damp - when mostly leaf piles dry out they do nothing - rain water, molasses and a gallon of urine (OK, not fun to think about but it works) in a 2 gallon sprayer to soak the pile is great. I also add a beer and the strained 'milk' from cornmeal and that has seemed to reeeeeaaallly accelerate the fungus.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2003 12:22 pm 
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Wow! This thread covers a LOT of ground.

As you know you can recycle newspaper. If you do it in any bulk at all, I suggest you soak them for a few days.

Peat moss takes forever to break down because all the easy break down stuff disappeared when Robin Hood was in diapers. Peat moss is dug up from underwater bogs in the frozen north. It is well over 1,000 years old and has zero benefit left in it. It is pure bulk.

Topsoil is very likely to bring in nutgrass and worse weeds than you have now. Leave it alone!!

Compost is a good idea. Do that now. Literally bury your current lawn with the stuff. If you can afford to do 2 inches, do it now to be ready for spring.

And spring is way too early if you want to seed with bermuda. Bermuda seed won't sprout in any numbers until mid June. It has to be HOT for bermuda seed.

White office paper is made from either wood or cotton products. Both are fine in compost.

Tilling in your sticker burrs will come back to bite you big time! You'll end up with a field of stickers rather than just a few in isolated spots. Every single sticker is a seed and it will grow nicely in the tilled field.

You might get an old blanket (garage sale item??) and drag it through your yard to pick up the stickers. Comb them off the blanket into a trash can or bin and keep dragging until you don't get any more stickers. But even then, you have them buried in your soil, so DO NOT TILL IT!! The blanket idea is just a trick to pick them all up as much as you can.

The best way to get a good lawn from where you are now is to bury it with compost now, and sod it in whenever. I would suggest St Augustine for your area, but bermuda is fine if you don't care about having a brown lawn for the winter. You can either plug it in or do the whole flats. What you need to do is cover up the weeds and weed seeds with vigorous turf. Here's how.

1. Water deeply and infrequently. This means once a month for an hour during the winter and once a week for an hour during the summer. This program will develop deep, drought tolerant roots. Shallow rooted weeds will die out quickly with this regimen.

2. Mow bermuda as low as you can - 1/2 to 1 inch. This will give you a dense prostrate grass that will shade out weeds and weed seeds. You'll have to mow maybe twice a week to keep it nice. If you decide on St Augustine, then mow it as tall as you can. Tall St Aug grows dense and will shade out the weeds even better than bermuda will.

3. Fertilize regularly with corn meal or alfalfa (or your favorite expensive organic fertilizer). Healthy grass is the best defense against weeds. If you really want to go after results in one season, fertilize with 10 pounds per 1,000 square feet, every 90 days of the year.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2005 12:30 am 
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Using newspapers to line my raised beds seemed like a good idea until I noticed the posts indicating that the inks used may be toxic. So I went down to the newspaper office and got some blank unprinted newspaper paper. It comes in 4 ft wide rolls and 2 ft wide rolls. I paid $1.00 for each end of the roll roll. Looks like it may have 30 feet or so on each roll.

Mary Lou


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 Post subject: Newspaper in compost
PostPosted: Sat Sep 10, 2005 2:11 pm 
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Location: Robinson,TEXAS
Most all the inks used in newsprint today are soy based and should not be a problem. I use them in my worm composting and never have a problem.
Richard Spitzer


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