Trying out paper mulch
It feels a bit decadent to be trying out this store-bought mulch paper,
even though the price per square foot is comparable to the cost of
straw. On the up side, unlike other manufactured sheet mulches, this
paper is reputed to be fully biodegradable, so we won't have the issue
that black plastic causes, where you're picking your "mulch" out of the
soil for years to come. On the down side, the paper won't add nearly as
much organic matter to the soil as straw would, water penetration may or
may not be an issue, and I'm not sure how the paper will fare once the
areas beneath the weights begin to rot away. That's why we're only
experimenting on a small scale.
Of course, cardboard
mulch is much preferable to any kind of paper, especially amid the
perennials. The tree row above hasn't been weeded yet this year, but
it's looking pretty good regardless due to cardboard laid down last
fall. In a perfect world, I'd add mulch on top of the cardboard, but
during this stopgap year, I've instead taken to weighing down the paper
product with bits of prunings and other debris --- just enough to keep
the mulch from blowing away in our non-windy climate. Cardboard is
midway in carry-ability between the paper mulch and straw, the sticking
point there usually being sourcing the waste product.
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