I posted this blog during the early Fall of 2019, due to the wildfire smoke I am not only in self quarantine because of C-19 but now it’s a double whammy; the smoke threatens my health. During the fire storm of the 2017-2018 winter I got a serious sinus infection from it which spread to my ears and destroyed my eardrums. So I’m inside at least until the smoke clears, then until February due to the virus.
I have changed my time on the river side porch to the afternoon as the morning temperature driven by the wind is a bit too cool for me and Skunkpuppy. The wind is a normal feature of the summer, it will be gone by September 15th. Cardboard piled in the garage however is a different matter; I collect it. Gathering it is no problem now that everyone is ordering everything on-line, most of the boxes have Amazon emblazoned on the side.
Christmas is usually the time of year they really pile up, if this is an indication of things to come I’m going to end up with a lot of cardboard. That will be alright as I have a few uses for virtually as much as I can get. Following are the three main uses I have.
Earthworm bedding, I cut it up with a paper cutter and run it through a regular paper shredder, it must be done correctly. Cutting then shredding takes a lot of time, a commodity of which I have plenty of, I’m fortunate. I cut the boxes into 1 inch strips, no wider; narrower is fine. It’s then run through the shredder until it overheats, I then let it cool and continue cutting cardboard. I store the shredded material in a 50 gallon trash receptical for use during the winter and spring.
Composting cardboard takes about as long as it does to compost leaves, the smaller the pieces the quicker it will decompose. I place the pieces, no larger than 4 inch square, into the tumbler wetting it as it goes in. It’s a hot composter, I will not add worms to it because the temperatures are too high for them. I will add leaves, Ice plant, Cactus and other organics to the mix. I am striving to finish in two weeks, I don’t place much truck in that but I have read it can be done.
There are many uses in the garden for cardboard. When cleaning the boxes preparing them during the winter for the next year I pull the plants out and lay them flat on top of the soil. On top of the spent organic material I lay full sheets then soak it with a hose. Leaves, Straw, or Wood chips are laid thick on top of the cardboard, the mulch is then soaked. The winter rains will keep it soaked with natural decomposition turning the entire lot into compost, the box will then be filled with new compost mixed with leaves. After planting mulch in the form of cardboard, leaves, wood chips, or straw will be placed on top.
At one time not too long ago I would curse boxes, it seemed I was forever busting them apart to toss into the trash. I began to look for uses when I discovered Earthworm farming where it may be use for feeding them as well as creating their habitat. I discovered it composts well, and it makes good mulch on it’s own. Best of all is it no longer goes to the landfill, it’s has a big impact with just me doing it. If we all did just think of how much space would be saved in the trash yards.
Jacques Lebec Earthworm Farming and Composting.