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Ask Phoebe: Newspaper safe as mulch for garden

By Phoebe Falconer

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

Lots of garden books are telling me to use newspaper as mulch in the garden but I am concerned that the inks used in the Herald these days may not be environmentally friendly, especially the colour pages. Are they safe to use? Raewyn Robinson, Titirangi.

The magazine Organic NZ, published by the Soil and Health Association of New Zealand, states that newspapers are fine to use as mulch, as modern inks are soy-based, relatively harmless and break down in a matter of days. However, it might be prudent to separate out the glossy pages, as the ink used in them may still contain heavy metals such as lead, cadmium and chromium.

Xanthe White, gardening columnist at the Listener and well-known landscape designer, suggests you shred the newsprint (and raisin boxes, kitchen paper and the like) to help it break down. Nature's ability to clean up our waste is quite efficient if we approach it in the right way, she says.

I've twice this week encountered situations where other vehicles and I have politely given way to each other, all three of us evidently a little uncertain (and annoying following drivers).

The common feature of these two intersections is that turning from Normanby Rd to Clive Rd and from Tamaki Drive to Ngapipi Rd, there are white lines and traffic islands and left- and right-turning vehicles merge from a dedicated lane to a single lane.

Under the old rules, left-turning clearly gave way to right-turning, but under the new rules, I had assumed that right-turning now gave way to left-turning at these intersections. I did this, only to find the left-turning vehicles offered to give way to me (maybe assuming I was already on Ngapipi/Clive Rds).

As I almost daily use these intersections, I thought I'd better find out for sure! David Catty, Mission Bay.

I went for a drive one recent morning, and this is what I found.

At the intersection of Normanby and Clive, vehicles on Clive face a give way sign, and thus must give way to traffic turning right from Normanby.

At Tamaki Drive and Ngapipi, right-turning vehicles on Ngapipi face a give way sign, so must wait for traffic turning right from Tamaki.

And, in a similar vein ...

What is supposed to happen for traffic coming along Mt Smart Rd and turning left into Rockfield Rd, in Penrose? I often come along Station Rd and turn right into Rockfield Rd to go to Great South Rd, and with the old give way rule, I always had the right of way, but now that the rule has changed I should be giving way to traffic turning left into Rockfield Rd coming from Mt Smart Rd, but they have a give way sign there, so are they still supposed to give way to me or not? Cris Bell, Penrose.

Another day, another drive. There are give way signs for traffic turning left from Rockfield into Station, for traffic turning left from Mt Smart into Rockfield, and for traffic turning right from Rockfield into Mt Smart. Thus, if you are turning right from Station into Rockfield, you have right of way.

- NZ Herald

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