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Can I use pine needles...

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Can I use pine needles...

Post  Aub on 10/14/2010, 11:11 pm

I have 6 big Pine trees (White and Austrian) in my yard near the garden. It's starting to get chilly here and I need to "insulate" my garden. Can I use the fallen Pine Needles as straw? They don't seam to compost at all. We have piles of pine needles 4 feet high that have been by the fence since we moved in 3 years ago!
I have strawberries, asparagus, and garlic that will be in all winter. I also have a few blueberry bushes and a blackberry that I just got, those could probably use something on them too.

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Re: Can I use pine needles...

Post  Chopper on 10/15/2010, 1:35 am

Good question. Pine needles are acidic I know and places that get a decent amount of rain often have acidic soil. So I know that but how it would affect your veggies I am not sure. Just a starting place.


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Re: Can I use pine needles...

Post  Icemaiden on 10/15/2010, 5:31 am

Good question! I had heard they were too acid as well.
I found this:

which seems a mixed bag of advice. Sounds good for established plants and perhaps iffy for beds where you plants seeds.

Anyone using it already?

I'm off out in a minute to "borrow" a pile of dead leaves which are collected on the road a few houses up... if they have not blown away in the night, that is.


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Re: Can I use pine needles...

Post  LaFee on 10/15/2010, 7:03 am

don't feel bad, Icemaiden -- I keep going out and filling lawn waste bags with dry leaves I sweep up off the sidewalk up and down our street. I try to do it during the day so there are fewer neighbors around to question my sanity (even though we're getting quite used to being the crazy Americans).


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Re: Can I use pine needles...

Post  Patty from Yorktown on 10/15/2010, 7:20 am

Your blueberry plants will love the pine needles. I am less sure about the rest of the plants, however plants that are frozen do not grow well. If all I had to cover my plants was pine needles, then I would cover them. Hope that helps some.

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Re: Can I use pine needles...

Post  dstubbs on 10/15/2010, 7:29 am

I'm still learning about gardening, but I have a background in archaeology and know a bit about soil as a result. Soil in areas with a lot of evergreen trees (like pine) is very acidic. Some plants may like that (I think blueberries do), but I would think that most plants would need a more alkaline environment. Hope that helps!

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Re: Can I use pine needles...

Post  Aub on 10/15/2010, 9:04 pm

Well, I will use them to keep the Blueberries happy. Thanks all!

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Re: Can I use pine needles...

Post  Megan on 10/15/2010, 11:30 pm

I am hesitant to suggest it because I have absolutely nothing to back this up with.... but if you are just looking for a thermal barrier, could you put the pine needles into tough black plastic bags and use them to insulate your garden that way??? One way or another, it's thermal mass, and it's free except for the cost of the bag.

Anyone with experience to the contrary, please speak up!

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Re: Can I use pine needles...

Post  CarolynPhillips on 10/16/2010, 9:29 am

I think mulching with pine needles is just fine on anything. Like you said, it does take a very long time for them to decompose and using it as a mulch and removing it in the spring isn't going to change the pH enough to make a big difference. If you mixed it into the soil and let it decompose there it would make a difference.

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Re: Can I use pine needles...

Post  Old Hippie on 10/16/2010, 10:19 am

My compost "Bible" recommends using pine straw or pine needles as mulch under shrubs, trees and perennials or as winter protection. Azaleas, blueberries, strawberries and rhododendrons will love the acidity. For other plants she recommends sprinkling a bit of garden lime on the soil to keep the soil from becoming too acid. You can use it as winter protection and then remove it in spring.

I am always begging for bags of leaves and grass clippings from the neighbours. I don't care if they think I am crazy. In fact, I work hard to maintain that image.

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