Can I Use Shredded Paper in the Garden?

“Any suggestions for using shredded paper in my raised beds for vegetables?  I have a home office that produces a lot of shredded paper that I would like to “recycle” if possible.” Question from Glenda of Sewell, New Jersey

Answer: Before putting any paper in the garden, make sure that the ink you use is acceptable for garden use. Almost all printer ink is non-toxic these days, but double-check your ink brand to make sure. Plant-based or soy inks are best.

A good use for shredded white paper in the vegetable garden is as a sub-layer below a straw or a compost layer. Spread the paper over your bed, wet it down, and cover it with straw or compost. It will serve as an extra protective layer to ward off weeds. I always try to find seed-free straw as vegetable-garden mulch.

The paper can also be composted. Mix in organic ingredients, such as grass clippings, vegetable waste from the kitchen, chopped leaves, and granular nitrogen to help the paper break down properly. Compost piles need to be tended, wetted, and turned to facilitate the composting process. (Please click here to learn more about how to compost at home.) Then you can add the compost to your beds to fortify all of your plantings.

I hope that these tips help!

Happy gardening,

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist