Baking has gotten bigger in the U.S. thanks to shows like the Great British Bake Off. According to a recent BBC.com article, Americans continue to embrace the show and all its signature bakes. Many of the bakers, like 2013 winner Frances Quinn, continue to be popular on social media with countless fans creating Facebook groups and hosting themed parties.
But if we are baking more, that begs the question, what do you do with all those paper sugar and flour bags? Aside from containing two of the most important ingredients for baking, used paper sugar and flour bags are ingredients for something else – the garden. So, you don’t need to toss out the empty bags. Repurpose them to help grow a lush and green garden.
It is impressive the myriad materials one can compost. Sure, you can compost many of the organic waste from your baking, think egg shells. But did you know that paper, like flour and sugar bags, is an often-preferred ingredient in your yard’s compost pile? Set those extra bags aside when baking so they can provide much needed insulation to “bake up” a healthy compost pile in your yard.
But what if you do not have a yard? No problem, they are perfect for your compost bin as well. Because compost needs both organic and inorganic material, the ingredients are the same, no matter the location. You can set aside those leftover flour and sugar bags, cut them up throughout the year and add them to your compost bin. What to do with the compost? Other than using it in a container garden, think of donating it to a gardening friend or a community garden.
Now that we know we can compost our paper sugar and flour bags, why not bring them out to the yard and use them in lasagna gardening. That's right, lasagna gardening – the super simple no dig and no till layered method of preparing your outdoor soil for spring. Replace the initial newspaper or cardboard level and cover the area you wish to work on with the deconstructed flour and sugar bags. Then layer your organic compost and materials over the bags and let time take its course. It is best to do this in the fall so all your early holiday baking will provide a good number of paper bags to include.
The dark and still cool days of early spring is the perfect time to start on your seedlings, nurturing them until they are ready to be planted in the soil. No need to purchase seedling starters when you have plenty of room to grow seeds in a paper flour or sugar bag. Just fill up the bag with soil and plant your seedlings on top. When the seedlings grow, move them to individual containers by tearing off a ring around the bag to delicately remove them. You can continue to use the bag to start on a new set of seedlings. As you tear the bag to replant new seedlings, add the torn pieces to your compost.
After planting your successful flowers and plants from your seedlings, you may want to mulch around the botanicals. Just as one can use cardboard, lay down paper flour and sugar bags beneath the mulch layer for a biodegradable weed guard.
By composting the paper packaging that holds our baking ingredients, baking not only feeds our sweet tooth, but our plants too.