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Composting/adding color newspaper pages to compost


QUESTION: hi greg,

i need to know if adding newspaper with color is good or harmful in compost.  of all the internet articles i have found, some say never use the colored pages, and others say that the ink used now is safe.

also, what is the best way for a household to add carbon to the compost of fruits and vegetables?  straw is always mentioned, but there is no access to straw.

very much appreciate your help, thanks in advance.   gloria

ANSWER: Hello Gloria

Greetings from Michigan USA

Newspapers printing in todays world, are printed with a Soy based ink, and is completly safe. Years ago, Newspapers were printed with a lead based ink, and were toxic. Shred the newspapers as well as you can, for quicker decomposting, and make sure to add a little water too.

Since you live in Mexico, I have no idea, if you have a good supply to fallen leaves. This is the best source of Carbon, that is easy to get to. In Michigan, in the Fall, when the leaves are on the ground, we scoop them up for our Compost piles. Wood Chips, although slower to decompose, is another good source of Carbon, but not too much of this. If someone you know is taking down a tree, and they chip it up, they are more than happy to let you have it.

The Best of Luck


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QUESTION: it's a relief to have a definite answer to the ink question.

also to have the suggestions for the carbon.

i do have a huge bag of zapote leaves i collected from a friend's yard that i have been using little by little, but they are hard leaves and take soooo long to decompose.  there are so many leaves with marks of insect or disease, that i am leery of collecting leaves just anywhere.  my healthy (outdoor) house plants do naturally lose their old leaves. the volume would be impressively small for the compost, but any amount would help. i have a feeling this is a silly question, but do plant leaves serve the same as tree leaves?

Hello again Gloria

I don't get any questions about zapote leaves, so I had to do a little research on them. I found out that the Tree, is a member of the Citrus family, the same as Oranges and Lemons. If you say the leaves are hard, I suggest, that you break them up into as small as you can. If you have access to a chipper shredder, this works great. this is also true of any matter that you wish to compost, the smaller the matter is before you compost, the quicker it will decompose. If you suspect that the tree, or plant, has an issue with a disease, by all means, pass on adding it.

That is not a silly question at all. Yes, your outdoor plants, that have lost the leaves, you can use as Carbon.

The best of luck



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As a Master Gardener: taken classes in All Phases of Gardening...I Specialize in Lawns... Pererennials... Compost... Organic Gardening.

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