[NAFEX] Weed prevention idea

David Consolvo fruitopia at firstva.com
Fri Feb 20 08:41:56 EST 2009

Thanks for going to the trouble to write so many details.  That was very 
informative, and your recommendations all sound very reasonable. 

(Also, I have a degrees in biochemistry and medicine, so I can tell you that all your 
chemistry makes sense as well.)
~David Consolvo
Hungrytown, Virginia

---------- Original Message ----------------------------------
From: <dmnorton at royaloakfarmorchard.com>
Reply-To: dmnorton at royaloakfarmorchard.com,North American Fruit Explorers 
<nafex at lists.ibiblio.org>
Date:  Wed, 18 Feb 2009 12:34:58 -0600

>I was curious about the fact that newspaper ink could be toxic and in my 
>research found the following:Here's what "Weblife: Humanure Handbook" has to 
>"Yes, newspaper will compost, but there are some concerns about
>newsprint. For one, the glossy pages are covered with a clay that
>retards composting. For another, the inks can be petroleum-based
>solvents or oils with pigments containing toxic substances such as
>chromium, lead and cadmium in both black and colored inks. Pigment for
>newspaper ink still comes from benzene, toluene, naphthalene, and
>other benzene ring hydrocarbons which may be quite harmful to human
>health if accumulated in the food chain. Fortunately, quite a few
>newspapers today are using soy-based inks instead of petroleum-based
>inks. If you really want to know about the type of ink in your
>newspaper, call your newspaper office and ask them. Otherwise, keep
>the glossy paper or colored pages in your compost to a minimum.
>Remember, ideally, compost is being made to use for producing human
>food. One should try to keep the contaminants out of it, if possible.
>"Wood's End Laboratory in Maine did some research on composting ground
>up telephone books and newsprint, which had been used as bedding for
>dairy cattle. The ink in the paper contained common cancer-causing
>chemicals, but after composting it with dairy cow manure, the
>dangerous chemicals were reduced by 98%.92 So it appears that if
>you're using shredded newspaper for bedding under livestock, you
>should compost it, if for no other reason than to eliminate some of
>the toxic elements from the newsprint. It'll probably make acceptable
>compost too, especially if layered with garbage, manure, and other
>organic materials."
>( http://www.weblife.org/humanure/chapter3_12.html )
>And here's what the "Master Composter" site has to say:
>"With regard to composting newspapers with black ink, I have only
>heard one mention of controversy. Otherwise, I have found that
>composting newspapers is acceptable. (As mentioned above, it is not
>usually recommended for use in a backyard pile because of the problems
>of matting, low nutrient value and slow decomposition.) The one
>controversial source was the book "Let It Rot" by Stu Campbell. He
>says that the carbon black ink contains polycyclicaromatic
>hydrocarbons (PAH) which are a known carcinogen. Stu says
>"Although the jury is still out, most scientific research to date
>indicates that PAHs are rendered inert by the temperatures of a hot
>compost pile, the biological activity, and the acids in the soil. Most
>newspaper inks no longer contain heavy metals, and most colored
>newsprint now uses vegetable dyes, so as long as you don't intensively
>compost with newspapers you can use it as a carbon source."
>"With regard to newspapers, A Green Guide to Yard Care published by
>the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission says, "Most inks
>today are safe for garden use." To be completely safe, call your
>newspaper and ask about the ink or use compost made from newspapers on
>non-edibles like your lawn, ornamentals, flowers, and trees, rather
>than your vegetable garden.
>"Do NOT compost advertising inserts. Ad inserts are printed by someone
>other than the newspaper. Most companies still print inserts with
>heavy metal inks, especially the glossy ones. Some colored inks have
>heavy metals in them which, in large quantities, are toxic to
>microorganisms. Small quantities such as the occasional colored ad in
>the newspaper have negligible effects.
>"With society's emphasis on recycling, most newspapers have started
>using vegetable dyes for colored advertisements and the comics. (If
>your newspaper uses vegetable dyes, you can compost the comics, too.)
>Unfortunately, there is no way to be certain which dye they use by
>looking at the printed page. To make sure, call your local newspaper
>and ask them if they use vegetable dyes."
>( http://www.mastercomposter.com/ref/orgmat4.html)
>There is an archive discussion forum which debated the topic at
>"Compost Chemical Issues"
>( http://www.mastercomposter.com/archive/arc_chem.html#INK )Hope this 
>Dennis Norton
>Royal Oak Farm Orchard
>Office (815) 648-4467
>Mobile (815) 228-2174
>Fax (609) 228-2174
>----- Original Message ----- 
>From: "Ginda Fisher" <list at ginda.us>
>To: "North American Fruit Explorers" <nafex at lists.ibiblio.org>
>Sent: Tuesday, February 17, 2009 5:01 PM
>Subject: Re: [NAFEX] Weed prevention idea
>> On Feb 17, 2009, at 12:10 PM, Harrick, Barbara wrote:
>>> On a small, home gardening scale, newspaper works great too.  I lay  out
>>> several inches of newspaper, cover with mulch. Depending on where it  is
>>> in the yard, I sometimes will cover the newspaper with the black  fabric
>>> and then mulch. I don't enjoy weeding much.
>>> Barbara
>> Based on a suggestion from this mailing list, I use 4 layers of  newspaper 
>> under mulch.  Works great, but has to be replaced every few  years.
>> Ginda
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