What do you do with all those Bank Statements, Credit Card Bills and Utility Demands?

First off you either pay them or file them. Well, that’s what I do, maybe you do things differently.

Then when you’ve done that, and a few years have elapsed, and you FINALLY get round to having a bit of a sort out you shred or burn them. We have a fire but it’s May and I’m not lighting a fire just to burn a load of old paperwork, as lovely as the thought is of watching all that dry dull paper go up in smoke. So shredding it is.

I get a deep sense of satisfaction from shredding, putting the paper in the top, pressing the button and watching it get chomped. All those mechanical gnashers gnwaing away at the paper. Aaaahhhh, it has a kind of therapeutic pull, watching the tedium of paperwork ending up as paper streams. So what do you do with the shredded paper? Well our council won’t collect it – something about it being difficult to re-cycle. So it’s a case of re-use.

I re-use the piles of shredded paper we generate on the allotment. You knew that was coming didn’t you! I use it in the compost bins as my dry material – mixed in with the greens of food peelings, tea bags, coffee grounds and vegetable matter, it helps make lovely crumbly compost.

But I also use it as a mulch. It might not be the most attractive thing you can do in your kitchen garden but trust me, it works. It’s great for the plants and soil. When I first tried putting it on the ground I expected it to be picked up and flung around the place at the first mini gust of wind. To my surprise and pleasure it simply stays where you place it. See it’s well behaved as well as useful. Just don’t try laying it down on a windy day othersiwe you will be unintenionally decroating your garden with strips of white paper.

The biggest job that mulching does is to preserve water – it stops water evaporating, it helps to keep water in the soil around the roots of plants – where it’s needed most. And in a year that we gardeners have to garden in a “declared drought” we need to do everything we can to help keep the water where it’s meant to be – i.e. around the plants and not in the atmosphere.

It quickly breaks down – maybe 6 months maximum, so is soon gone as worms and nature dig into it. And if you want to you can always layer some grass clippings on top of the shredded paper, again it will keep the moisture in and will break down. Making even more lovely crumbly compost-soil without actually putting anything in the compost bin.

Magic !

So next time a bill or a statement drops on the mat, remember there is, at some stage, the pleasure that comes from shredding and then putting it to good use with composting and mulching.

I think it’s time to start having a wander around the plot and checking up on how the loo-roll peas are getting on and what else is going on at the allotment.

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