I recently had a great question from a new organic allotmenteer called Doug, who said some very lovely things about my book, and then asked:
"You suggested the use of cardboard for weed suppressing/mulching - I have access to loads of it! But is it known if the adhesives used in the cardboard industry to stick the layers together break down to harmless elements? (Sorry if this seems overzealous). "
On the contrary, Doug, this is a darn good question and one I have occasionally pondered, so your email offered a great big kick up the backside to search out the answer before I use any more cardboard on my allotment, in pursuance of my mission to mulch, mulch, mulch this year. I should clarify at this point that what Doug was worried about was corrugated cardboard - the stuff with a wavy sheet of cardboard stuck between two flat sheets, and frequently used for boxes.
An initial, cursory Google search revealed very little of help, so I turned to the UK authority on all things organic - Garden Organic, formerly known as the HDRA. One of the benefits of being a member is free advice on such tricky matters, and a few days after submitting my query I got this response from Garden Organic adviser Carrie Pailthorpe:
"The type of cardboard you describe does not usually contain glue as it is made from cellulose fibres which stick together naturally. It is a great addition to your compost heap or can be used for mulching."
Well that is good news! I'd still advise removing sticky labels, tape and staples from your cardboard before use though.
In other exciting compost news: I have found a source of both straw for mulching and well rotted manure! A lovely lady called Laura swapped me bags of straw for some of my blackcurrant jam. I shall be popping back to her stables for some manure when I don't have the baby in tow ...