Newspaper and Mulch Instead of New Soil

I am trying to clean out and work up a few flower beds on a limited income. My question is this: I cannot buy topsoil or planting soil. Can I still hopefully have a successful bed using newspaper and mulch? How should that be done?


Hardiness Zone: 8b

Nelwyn from Bunkie, LA

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April 23, 20080 found this helpful

This idea will work in future years as it takes at least 6 to 8 months to produce.

Buy a compost bin, set in garden, use a mix of only 1/3rd grass cuttings or broken twigs MAXIMUM , 1/3 brown paper or cardboard or old envelopes any waste paper etc NOT NEWSPAPER or anything with ink though, and finally 1/3 to even 2/3 household waste such as egg shells, teabags, fruit and veg peelings etc . But no meat fish etc as this will attract rats and vermin. Stir about once a month with a long stick of any kind to add oxygen and add a drop of water now and again but not too much maybe half a teacup amount once a month. The idea is to keep the carbon and nitrogen balance level.

If this was started in the summer/autumn, then by the following spring u would have perfectly fine compost similar to potting soil, however u don't stop in the spring u keep adding waste to the TOP of the bin and only remove what u need from the BOTTOM of the bin through a little hatch which is found on the bottom of all compost bins.


Basically u do it every single day of the year, it just takes the first winter to get the first batch of soil at the bottom of the bin ready.

If it's urgent u don't have to wait for autumn I don't see a reason not to start tomorrow if u wanted to. but either way It takes 6/8 months to produce. It helps to keep a small bucket by the back kitchen door so that during the course of each day u can add the odd teabag or banana skin as and when u produce the waste , but empty this bucket daily and clean out as otherwise it will smell and get full of bacteria indoors, This is a free way to produce good quality soil for free and its also kind to the environment as it is recycling waste

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By kerry (Guest Post)
April 23, 20080 found this helpful


Absolutely brilliant site, have gotten 4 4x4 garden beds going for about $50 and have saved at least that amount in not buying veg and herbs.

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By Sheila. (Guest Post)
April 24, 20080 found this helpful

I've seen cat litter that is made from paper. Not knowing if it has any chemicals, I'm not sure if it could be used as a sub for use in homemade soil.

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By Carol in PA (Guest Post)
April 25, 20080 found this helpful

Try to get ahold of a book called Lasagna Gardening. The woman who wrote this book says you can put down wet newspapers to kill grass and weeds. Then, you put compost or whatever compost type materials you can find including used potting soil, garden soil, grass clippings or whatever you might have thrown on your compost pile. Take plants out of pots and place them right on top of the wet newspaper supported by the other products you've been able to find as listed above.


It takes a little longer this way, but it works just fine. I've tried it. Just keep adding to your compost materials as the season and plants mature.

In other words, you are making your compost right in the middle of your garden. Earthworms come and mix it around for you. You'll be surprised. BTW, dont use chemicals on your garden. I think it will work out for you.

Best of luck

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