Guest Article – How to Plan Your New Vegetable Garden Step by Step

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Now is the time to start planning your vegetable garden. You might not have a large area yet this is not to say you are unable to grow a substantial amount of healthy vegetables for you and your family.

The best of all, having a vegetable gardening for beginners does not have to be difficult, it can be much easier than you think.

 

Laying Out Your Beds

One of the first steps is deciding on the space you have available. This overall determines some of the vegetables you can grow and the quantity. If you do not have a large area, this does not matter are there are still ways you can grow more than enough vegetables for you and your family.

If you have space in a garden bed sizes of 16ft x 10ft are the ideal size, yet you have to remember you need access to both sides. If you have a pathway, these should be at least two ft. wide to allow for access to your beds.

 

Raised Beds

Although these need some simple construction to start with, raised beds can be beneficial, and in some cases, you can grow more vegetables than in a flat bed. A raised bed is comprised of a retaining wall and many of which are constructed by two lengths of wood that are 8ft in length and two pieces that are 4ft in length.

All these pieces of wood should be around 12inches in height to allow roots to grow good and healthy. These are then fastened together to form a rectangle and have supports bracing the wood for when you fill them with soil. A raised bed, once vegetables are growing, has the advantage for the over 50’s as access requires hardly any bending.

 

Soil Preparation

On a regular vegetable garden, you till the soil and then spread a good inch or two of compost and mix these. This allows nutrients and oxygen into the soil in preparation for planting. This also goes a long way to making your soil is the correct pH for your plants. Soil that is too far, either way, can hinder their growth.

Raised beds as with container gardening are easier to obtain better soil conditions. As it is a regular practice to purchase a good quality topsoil that will be pH neutral. This gives ideal conditions from the start although it is advisable to mix in the compost to provide the best number of nutrients.

 

Planning and Planting

All rows that you plant should run east to west as this gives them a chance to gain the most amount of sun as vegetables require 6 to 8 hours per day to grow at their best.

If you have any climbing vegetables these, you should make sure are on the north* sides of your beds and don’t cast shadows over your other vegetables.

Tomatoes are a typical climbing plant yet you can opt for a bush type and grow these in hanging baskets. This makes them easier to grow, harvest and can free up vital space for other veggies. When it comes to planting you have 3 options, you can use old veggies that have sprouted, transplant seedlings that have been grown in another area or sow directly from seeds.

 

Vegetable Care

No matter what method you have used to plant your vegetables, they will have to be tended to. Watering can be weather dependent yet, as a rule, if the top inch of soil is dry, then your veggies will require water. Containers and raised beds will need more water, as the irrigation and drainage is much better than regular soil.

The evening is also the best time for this as watering in hot sunlight can lead to scorching of your plants. If you are one of the baby-boomers generation and are active in the garden, you can create your own compost from old leaves and vegetable scraps.

This when ready can be spread around your veggies to give more nutrients, or you can purchase a good quality fertilizer from your local garden centre.

You will have insects attracted to your vegetables and a simple method to help control these is introducing a birdbath. Once birds come to your garden, they will help control the pests that love your veggies.

Regardless of which generation you are from obtaining a healthy lifestyle can be easy and enjoyable. Vegetable gardening not only gets you out in the fresh air and having some exercise, but you also have something to show for your efforts. Fresh tasting vegetables that are much nicer than any store bought alternatives.

 

* (Editor’s note: direction is north if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, south if you live in the Southern Hemisphere)


BIO: Tim Graham writes for the yardandgardenguru.com about his passions in life yard care, gardening and getting outdoors. Outside of this he spends time enjoying the outdoors with his wife and grandchildren

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Gardening Calendar (Australian Temperate Climate) – February

February is the last month of summer, and it’s still a fairly dry time of the year in Melbourne, so water deeply and less often during dry periods to encourage roots to grow down, making plants less vulnerable to heat and drought.

Take advantage of the hot dry weather to do weeding, and lay the weeds on top of the soil to dry out and become mulch, but remove and dispose of the seeding parts first.

 

Things to Do This Month:

  • Summer pruning of fruit trees, cut new green growth by half to maintain size.
  • Feed citrus trees, and top up mulch (use compost or old manure) over roots, keeping clear of trunk.
  • Cut and dry herbs for winter use.
  • Collect ripening seeds for plants you wish to propagate.
  • Divide perennials towards the end of the month, or if in drought, leave till March.
  • Sow cool season green manure crops, such as Broad Beans, Fenugreek, Linseed, Lupins, Mustard, Oats and Vetch, then dug in during autumn before flowering.
  • Last chance to sow warm season green manure crops, such as Buckwheat, Cowpea, Japanese Millet, Mung Bean, Mustard, Soybean.
  • Prune summer fruiting raspberries – after fruit is picked, cut out old canes and tie new canes (that have grown this year) to supports.
  • Keep an eye on water gardens and ponds, water levels can get low due to evaporation. Aquatic plants can become overgrown and require thinning at this time of year.
  • Propagation of semi-hardwood (semi-ripe) cuttings is done in mid-late summer, use rooting hormone, and plant in moist commercial propagation mix, or make your own with one part coarse propagating sand (washed river sand) and one part peat or coconut coir.

 

Vegetables and Herbs to Sow:

Sow in February   Harvest (weeks)
Beetroot ds 7-10
Brussel Sprouts ds 14-28
Broccoli ds 10-16
Buckwheat d 8-12
Cabbage ds 8-15
Caraway d 24 mths
Carrot d 12-18
Cauliflower ds 15-22
Chervil d 6-8
Chicory d 8
Chinese Cabbage ds 8-10
Cress d 2-3
Endive ds 10-11
Kohlrabi d 7-10
Leeks ds 15-18
Lettuce ds 8-12
Mustard greens d 5-8
Oats d 8-12
Onions ds 25-34
Spring Onions d 6-10
Parsley ds 9-19
Parsnip d 17-20
Potato tubers d 15-20
Radish d 5-7
Rhubarb crowns d 12 mths
Salad Burnett ds 6-8
Salsify d 14-21
Shallot bulbs d 12-15
Silverbeet ds 7-12
Swedes d 10-14
Turnip d 6-9

Key:
d = sow directly into ground
s = sow in seed tray
ds = sow directly into ground or seed tray
*= frost tender
**= sow after frost

Download printable PDF version of Gardening Calendar (Australian Temperate Climate) – February

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Gardening Calendar (Australian Temperate Climate) – January

It’s January, and we find ourselves right in the middle of the summer season. It’s in this month and the next that we experience the hottest day-time and night-time temperatures of the year. With the weather so hot and dry at this time, and with hot north winds blowing, it’s important to keep up with the watering, especially for plants in containers.

The occasional heavy rains raise the humidity, and the warmth brings insects, so keep a lookout for any diseases or pests in the garden.

Cover peaches and nectarines with bird-netting to protect the fruit, and if you choose to thin out fruit on apples and pears now is the time to do it. Plum trees can bear very heavily and the brittle branches can break under the weight of the fruit, so it’s best to tie branches to supports or prop them up if they look too heavy.

Not forgetting the vegetables, it’s now time to harvest early potatoes, garlic, shallots and globe artichokes.

Sow some winter brassicas such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower and swedes at this month, so they can be harvested in the winter season. To ensure that indeterminate (tall growing/staking variety) tomatoes ripen their fruit this late in the season, pinch out the growing tips to stop further green growth and remove any side-shoots, so the plant’s vigour is directed towards the fruit.

 

Things to Do This Month:

  • Continue tying growing vines and brambleberries such as blackberries and their hybrids back to supports or wires.
  • Prune summer fruiting raspberries – after fruit is picked, cut out old canes and tie new canes (that have grown this year) to supports.
  • Propagation of semi-hardwood (semi-ripe) cuttings is done in mid-late summer, use rooting hormone, and plant in moist commercial propagation mix, or make your own with one part coarse propagating sand (washed river sand) and one part peat or coconut coir.
  • Cut and dry herbs for winter use.
  • Harvest seed from perennial plants
  • Lest chance to sow vegetable seeds for harvesting in autumn.
  • Keep an eye on water gardens and ponds, water levels can get low due to evaporation. Aquatic plants, including oxygenators, can become overgrown and require thinning at this time of year.

 

Vegetables and Herbs to Sow:

Sow in January   Harvest (weeks)
Amaranth ds 7-8
Asparagus Pea d 8-11
Beetroot ds 7-10
Burdock d 17-18
Carrot d 12-18
Chives ds 7-11
Climbing beans d 9-11
Cucumber d 8-10
Dwarf beans d 7-10
Kohlrabi d 7-10
Lettuce ds 8-12
Marrow d 12-17
Mustard greens d 5-8
Oregano s 6-8
Parsley ds 9-19
Radish d 5-7
Rosella s 21-25
Salsify d 14-21
Silverbeet ds 7-12
Sunflower ds 10-11
Swedes d 10-14
Sweet corn ds 11-14
Turnip d 6-9
Zucchini ds 6-9

Key:
d = sow directly into ground
s = sow in seed tray
ds = sow directly into ground or seed tray
*= frost tender
**= sow after frost

Download printable PDF version of Gardening Calendar (Australian Temperate Climate) – January

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Gardening Calendar (Australian Temperate Climate) – December

December is the first month of summer, and with the warmer weather gardens explode into life – lush, abundant and awesome to behold. With the days getting longer as we progress towards the longest day of the year, the summer solstice, there’s more time to enjoy the garden and the great outdoors!

During this time, temperatures can reach extremes as the days heat up, and gardens can get quite dry, so keeping up with the watering is important. Pests will also emerge with the warmer weather so keep an eye out for them!

‘Chop & Drop’ any broad beans or peas after harvesting, ‘chop’ the tops at ground level, and ‘drop’ on top of the soil as mulch, leave the roots in the ground to return any nitrogen in the root nodules to the soil.

As strange as it may seem, early summer is the time to sow some winter brassicas such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower and swedes, so they can be harvested in winter.

Things to Do This Month:

  • Top up or add extra mulch around fruit trees and plants to retain moisture in the soil and prevent water loss from evaporation (keep mulch away from plant stems and trunks as this can cause stem rot/collar rot).
  • Propagate climbers by layering and propagate strawberries by pegging down runners onto soil.
  • Propagate plants by taking softwood (green) cuttings from now till January (after which they begin to harden off).
  • Last chance to plant potted fruit trees and vines to beat the summer heat (having roots, can be planted anytime, but best in spring & autumn). Make sure you pick a day when the weather is mild!
  • Continue tying growing vines and brambleberries such as blackberries and their hybrids back to supports or wires.Thin out fruit on plum trees if there is a risk of branches breaking.
  • Last chance to plant tomatoes and capsicum seedlings.
  • If you need to add new fish to ponds or water gardens, this is an ideal time as they acclimatise easier in the warmer weather.

Vegetables and Herbs to Sow:

Sow in December   Harvest (weeks)
Amaranth ds 7-8
Angelica ds 18 months
Asparagus d 2-3 years
Asparagus Pea d 8-11
Beetroot ds 7-10
Borage ds 8-10
Burdock d 17-18
Cape Gooseberry ds 14-16
Carrot d 12-18
Chilli s 9-11
Chives ds 7-11
Choko d 17
Climbing beans d 9-11
Cucumber d 8-10
Dwarf beans d 7-10
French tarragon d 30-40 days
Kohlrabi d 7-10
Lettuce ds 8-12
Mustard greens d 5-8
Oregano s 6-8
Parsley ds 9-19
Pumpkin ds 15-20
Radish d 5-7
Rosella s 21-25
Rosemary d 12 months
Sage d 18 months
Silverbeet ds 7-12
Sunflower ds 10-11
Sweet corn ds 11-14
Turnip d 6-9

Key:
d = sow directly into ground
s = sow in seed tray
ds = sow directly into ground or seed tray
*= frost tender
**= sow after frost

Download printable PDF version of Gardening Calendar (Australian Temperate Climate) – December

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Why You Shouldn’t Use Sales Receipts in Your Compost or Worm Farm

thermal_paper_receipts

 

Remember Bisphenol A, also known as BPA, the toxic endocrine-disrupting chemical which leached out of plastic drink bottles that has now been banned worldwide? Well, the bad news is that it’s still around and you have more contact with it than you imagine! Thermal paper used in cash register sales receipts and ATM receipts is loaded with this poison!

Thermal paper used in sales receipts is made up of a toxic cocktail of chemicals, it contains  leuco dyes such as triaryl methane phthalide dyes, developers such as Bisphenol A (BPA) and Bisphenol S (BPS), and sensitizers such as . 1,2-bis-(3-methylphenoxy)ethane or 2-benzyloxynapthalene.

Research conducted by University of Missouri has shown that bisphenol A (BPA) from thermal paper used in cash register receipts is linked with high levels of BPA in humans. It was observed that touching a thermal paper sales receipt after using a skin care products caused a rapid increase of BPA blood levels. Using hand sanitizer beforehand or eating after handling sales receipts also had the effect of absorbing BPA very rapidly.

What does BPA do to you? To quote  Frederick S. vom Saal who was involved with this research:

"Our research found that large amounts of BPA can be transferred to your hands and then to the food you hold and eat as well as be absorbed through your skin, BPA exhibits hormone-like properties and has been proven to cause reproductive defects in fetuses, infants, children and adults as well as cancer, metabolic and immune problems in rodents. BPA from thermal papers will be absorbed into your blood rapidly; at those levels, many diseases such as diabetes and disorders such as obesity increase as well. Use of BPA or other similar chemicals that are being used to replace BPA in thermal paper pose a threat to human health."

The lesson here should be fairly obvious, if we poison our soil (and our environment), we poison our food, and ultimately our own bodies! Keep it safe, keep it natural! Don’t put thermal paper into your compost bin or worm farm, it’s seriously bad stuff. Wash your hands after handling thermal paper receipts and don’t eat after handling them or let kids play with them.

You may be wondering why thermal paper is used if it’s so toxic – well, it’s the same old reason every time, it all comes down to money, it’s cheap… much like the health of the general public is to corporations who put profits above everything else.

Please handle thermal paper sales receipts safely and responsibly for the sake of your own heath and for the environment, because as we all know, both are inextricably linked!

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Darebin Backyard Harvest Festival 2017

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This year I’m running two garden tours for the City of Darebin – for everyone who has been asking when I’m next opening my garden to the public, well, it’s that time of the year once again!

About the Festival

Held annually in November, the Backyard Harvest Festival is a celebration of home food growing traditions. Learn from passionate and knowledgeable local experts from a diversity of cultures. Visit home gardens, participate in gardening workshops and get inspired to create your own food garden this spring!

The Backyard Harvest Festival has inspired home gardeners since it first began in 2011, helping build a strong sense of community around homegrown and homemade food. The 2017 festival is taking place from Saturday 18 – Sunday 26 November.

This year Darebin Council is partnering with Moreland City Council to deliver the festival, which means there are over 34 inspiring and diverse garden tours and workshops to participate in across Darebin and Moreland.

Learn about keeping bees, worm farming, fruit tree grafting, and how to attract beneficial insects to your food garden.

Download the detailed program here

Places are limited and bookings are essential via Eventbrite, or contact Tina Stagg on 8470 8673, email tina.stagg@darebin.vic.gov.au

Tours and workshops cost $10 ($5 Concession) Children are free.

Take advantage of 20% off the ticket price when you attend 3 or more events. Enter the promotional code MultiBYH17 in the booking window OF ALL THREE (or more) OF THE EVENTS YOU PURCHASE (don’t just enter it at the last event you won’t get the full discount)

Further Information
Sustainable Food Officer
Ph: 8470 8392
Email: lee.tozzi@darebin.vic.gov.au

 

If you want to see my garden as part of this festival, I will be running the following events:

 

Angelo’s Fertile Food Forest

Angelo is a sustainable gardening and permaculture presenter, trainer and writer and passionate food forest advocate. His garden won a Darebin Sustainability Award in 2012, and was featured in the prestigious Open Gardens Australia event in 2014 and 2015. Angelo’s high density food forest garden produces a huge diversity of food – stone fruits, berries, herbs and vegetables. What appears to be a verdant tumble of vegetation is actually strategic placement to create synergistic relationships and enhance the microclimate and growing conditions for each plant. This is also an effective pest control technique resulting in a wonderfully abundant organic garden.

Sunday 19 November
3:15 – 4:15pm
Private garden in Preston (address provided on booking)
$10 / $5 Concession (children free)
Tickets: www.darebin.vic.gov.au/backyardharvest

 

Food Forests with Angelo Eliades

Passionate food forest advocate Angelo Eliades from Deep Green Permaculture will demonstrate how a conventional backyard has been transformed into a thriving, productive biodiverse demonstration permaculture food forest garden with over 30 fruit trees, dozens of berries, multitudes of medicinal herbs as well as plenty of exotic edibles from around the world and native bush food plants too.

Tuesday 21 November
6:00 – 7:00pm
Private garden in Preston (address provided on booking)
$10 / $5 Concession (children free)
Tickets: www.darebin.vic.gov.au/backyardharvest

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Why You Shouldn’t Use Bleached or Glossy Paper in Your Compost or Worm Farm

shredded_office_paper

As gardeners, we often told that we shouldn’t use office photocopying paper or glossy magazines in our worm farms, compost or the garden in general. Many gardeners ask why not? There are very good reasons not to, which we’ll explore in this article!

By understanding a little about the different methods of paper production, we can better distinguish what should and shouldn’t go into our gardens.

 

Chlorine use in paper production

Most paper is made from wood, and in its natural state paper is actually BROWN in colour! You’ve all seen brown paper bags and cardboard boxes, well that’s the real colour of unbleached paper. To change paper from its natural brown colour to white, it needs to be bleached, and that’s where the problems begin…

There are many ways to bleach paper, some more environmentally friendly than others, but most bleached paper is treated with some form of chlorine-based bleach.

Why is chlorine used? Chlorine bleaches paper really white and also removes the woody compound called lignin from wood pulp, which causes the yellowing of paper when it’s exposed to sunlight, as happens with newspapers. (Incidentally, newspapers are chlorine-free and CAN go in your compost bins, worm farms and gardens).

When chlorine binds with carbon-based (organic) compounds such as lignins in wood pulp, it produces highly toxic dioxins and other toxic organochlorine byproducts, which wreak havoc in living systems.

 

What are dioxins and how toxic are they?

Dioxins are cause for great concern both to the environment and to all living organisms, no matter how we look at the subject. I’m quoting directly from sources here to remove any ambiguity of interpretation and to silence any naysayers who wish to play down the risks of dioxins in an attempt to cover up for the industry polluters. This section may be wordy, but for good reason.

According to the EXTOXNET Extension Toxicology Network (the Pesticide Information Project of Cooperative Extension Offices of Cornell University, Michigan State University, Oregon State University, and University of California at Davis):

“Dioxin is a generic name used to describe a family of compounds known as chlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins. The most notable, most studied, and most toxic chemical in this family is 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin, or 2,3,7,8-TCDD, most commonly referred to as TCDD. TCDD is colorless and odorless . Dioxins bioaccumulate in the food chain and the major route of human exposure is by eating fish, meat, and dairy products that have been exposed. Fetuses and nursing infants are at particular risk of exposure because of TCDDs accumulation in breast milk. Studies with laboratory animals have shown TCDD to be extremely toxic and the most potent carcinogen ever tested under laboratory conditions for some species of animals. However, the effects in humans exposed to TCDD have been more difficult to ascertain. Because of this, animal studies have been used as the basis of most risk assessments for dioxins.” [1] (Emphasis here is mine)

The US EPA, despite their bad reputation for colluding with industry polluters and downplaying risks to human health to promote corporate interests and profits, is pretty clear about the danger when it states that “Dioxins are highly toxic and can cause cancer, reproductive and developmental problems, damage to the immune system, and can interfere with hormones.” [2]

Dioxins are classified as persistent organic pollutants (POPs), which means that they take a very long time to break down once they are in the environment, and in the meantime accumulate in living organisms, increasing their concentration, and therefore their toxicity, as they move up through the food chain. The persistence of dioxins and their capacity to bioaccumulate makes them insidious environmental poisons that remain active for decades. To directly quote the World Health Organisation (WHO) facts sheet – Dioxins and their effects on human health:

“Dioxins are environmental pollutants. They belong to the so-called “dirty dozen” – a group of dangerous chemicals known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Dioxins are of concern because of their highly toxic potential. Experiments have shown they affect a number of organs and systems.  Once dioxins enter the body, they last a long time because of their chemical stability and their ability to be absorbed by fat tissue, where they are then stored in the body. Their half-life in the body is estimated to be 7 to 11 years. In the environment, dioxins tend to accumulate in the food chain. The higher an animal is in the food chain, the higher the concentration of dioxins.” [3]

Despite these facts, it’s hard to imagine that some industry polluters still try to play down how toxic dioxins really are. Corporate ethics? We’re actually all quite familiar with the effects of dioxins on humans – remember the human suffering (cancers, birth defects, unusual ‘syndromes’ and diseases) caused by the use of the defoliant/herbicide Agent Orange uses in the Vietnam War? The infamous Agent Orange was a mixture of the herbicides 245-T and 24-D, which was contaminated with the manufacturing byproduct dioxin, specifically the most toxic of the dioxins, TCDD.

Research reported by Wolters Kluwer Health: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins in 2014 states that Vietnam War veterans exposure to Agent Orange and TCDD has been linked to a wide range of health problems, including many different cancers, but the association the two most common types of skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma) was previously unclear. Evidence now suggests veterans with prior exposure to the herbicide Agent Orange may be at higher risk for certain types of skin cancer even many years after exposure. [4]

Dioxins have far reaching harmful effects. Current research shows that the dioxins in Agent Orange sprayed during the Vietnam War (which occurred 50 years ago) are still causing health problems today. Previous research had established a link between exposure to dioxins through herbicides such as Agent Orange and prostate cancer in men, but new studies by researchers at Kanazawa University in Japan for the first time are showing the impact of dioxin exposure on women and babies. Exposure to dioxin in Agent Orange released during the Vietnam War has been linked to increased levels of the hormone DHEA in women and their breastfeeding children decades later.

The US military’s use of Agent Orange in Vietnam for jungle defoliation and chemical leaks from their storage facilities have created hotspots of dioxin contamination in that country, with levels two to five times higher than in non-contaminated regions, resulting in high dioxin levels of in the soil and air. which are absorbed into people’s bodies through the food they eat and the air they breathe. Research has shown a nearly three-fold increase in the hormone DHEA in babies from dioxin hotspots compared to non-contaminated regions, which was caused by dioxins being transferred to the baby from mother’s umbilical blood and breast milk.

To comprehend the significance of this, we need to understand that the hormone DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) is responsible for male and female characteristics in humans, and that dioxins are endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) which interfere with how hormones send messages to each other around the body. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals have been implicated in causing birth defects, cancer and neurodevelopment disorders. Dioxins interfere with DHEA, the hormone responsible for determining male and female characteristics in humans, putting hormonal systems out of balance, leading to health problems and disfigurement. [5]

It’s no surprise that we have the United Nations ‘Stockholm Convention’, an international agreement to reduce emissions of certain persistent organic pollutants (POPs), including dioxins. So yes, dioxins are bad, very, very bad…

Luckily, there is some sanity and reason in the western world, or maybe the problem is far too big to ‘sweep under the rug’, and attempts have been made to reduce the paper manufacturing industry’s dioxin environmental pollution.

 

Chlorine-free paper

Up until the late 1990s, bleaching paper pulp with chlorine gas (elemental chlorine) was the preferred method, producing significant amounts of dioxin pollution. This method has been mostly phased out in preference for less polluting industrial processes that cause less environmental damage. But does that make paper chlorine-free, or more importantly, dioxin-free?

The key to determining how environmentally safe your paper is, is by understanding the labelling codes.

If paper is “chlorine-free”, it’s labelled according to the following categories:

  • TCF "totally chlorine-free" is either unbleached or bleached without any type of chlorine, using safer alternatives such as oxygen, ozone, or hydrogen peroxide instead.
  • PCF “processed chlorine-free” is recycled paper that may have once been bleached with chlorine, but as part of the recycling process, has only been bleached with alternatives such as oxygen, ozone, or hydrogen peroxide.
  • ECF "elemental chlorine-free" is bleached with a chlorine derivative such as chlorine dioxide (ClO2), but without elemental chlorine (Cl).

It’s important to point out that:

  • Elemental chlorine-free (ECF) paper which is bleached using chlorine derivatives such as chlorine dioxide may be less harmful to the environment than elemental chlorine, but this process still produce some dioxins and other toxic organochlorine byproducts, which is why we don’t use glossy paper and office paper in our gardens.
  • Most paper product are made from bleached wood/tree based paper, and only a very small proportion of the market is chlorine free
  • Only a small minority of paper product are made from non-tree based paper, and these are usually chlorine free.

 

And the rest…

Paper as a medium is fairly pointless without something written or drawn on it, be it pictures or writing. Most newspapers are printed with vegetable based inks, but that’s not the case with glossy magazines and office photocopies and laser prints.

Catalogues and glossy magazines are often printed with toxic inks and dyes, unless it’s explicitly stated that they’re printed with environmentally safe inks.  They may also use toxic heavy-metal based inks to produce vivid colours, though safer substitutes have been developed for most of these, traces of heavy metals and other toxic metals may still be present.

Photocopies and laser prints use toner, which is a mixture of iron oxide and a polymer (plastic) such as a styrene acrylate copolymer, a polyester resin, a styrene butadiene copolymer or similar compound, which is fused to the paper by heat. Plastics which aren’t food-safe don’t belong in your garden!

 

Keeping it safe

If you’re growing your own food, you don’t want it contaminated with all manner of poisons and pollutants like that produced by chemical-based (non-organic agriculture) which is sold in supermarkets! Newspaper & unprinted cardboard can go in the garden, but no office photocopy paper and no glossy printed pages. Also, go easy on the corrugated cardboard, the glue contain boron, and even though boron is an important trace element in the soil, too much of it is toxic to plants.

For your reference, I have also written articles which list what you can put in your compost and what you can put in your worm farm.

Remember, if it goes into your garden, it ends up in your body, so when growing uour own food – keep it safe, keep it healthy, and happy gardening!

 

 

References

  1. Dioxin Contamination of Food,  EXTOXNET Extension Toxicology Network  http://extoxnet.orst.edu/faqs/foodcon/dioxin.htm
  2. Learn about Dioxin, United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) https://www.epa.gov/dioxin/learn-about-dioxin
  3. Dioxins and their effects on human health, Fact sheet – Updated October 2016, World Health Organisation (WHO) http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs225/en/
  4. Mark W. Clemens, Andrew L. Kochuba, Mary Ella Carter, Kevin Han, Jun Liu, Karen Evans. Association between Agent Orange Exposure and Nonmelanotic Invasive Skin Cancer. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 2014; 133 (2): 432 DOI: 10.1097/01.prs.0000436859.40151.cf
  5. Elsevier. "Agent Orange still linked to hormone imbalances in babies in Vietnam." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 September 2017. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/09/170926091427.htm
  6. Annette M. Hormann, Frederick S. vom Saal, Susan C. Nagel, Richard W. Stahlhut, Carol L. Moyer, Mark R. Ellersieck, Wade V. Welshons, Pierre-Louis Toutain, Julia A. Taylor. Holding Thermal Receipt Paper and Eating Food after Using Hand Sanitizer Results in High Serum Bioactive and Urine Total Levels of Bisphenol A (BPA). PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (10): e110509 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0110509
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