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Pine Needles in Compost

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Pine Needles in Compost

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 11/16/2011, 12:52 pm

I've read that you can add pine needles to compost but then that'll increase the acidity.I heard that you can add lime to the compost to counteract the acidity. Does anybody have input on that? Because I have access to an almost unlimited supply of pine needles, and if they really are beneficial to compost, then I want to add more.
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Re: Pine Needles in Compost

Post  littlejo on 11/16/2011, 8:34 pm

I have an unlimited supply too, but, they will make the compost acidic, and lime will counteract it. Pine needles have a sort of wax on them which is fine, but, they take a long time to decompose. They really need to be chopped first to speed along the process. I use mine as a mulch for azaleas and blueberries and other plants too. The mulch will last a real long time
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Re: Pine Needles in Compost

Post  southern gardener on 11/16/2011, 8:51 pm

we use the pine needles for our nests for our chickens! free, and keeps the eggs clean, and the hens seem to love them!!
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Re: Pine Needles in Compost

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 11/16/2011, 9:14 pm

@littlejo wrote:I have an unlimited supply too, but, they will make the compost acidic, and lime will counteract it. Pine needles have a sort of wax on them which is fine, but, they take a long time to decompose. They really need to be chopped first to speed along the process. I use mine as a mulch for azaleas and blueberries and other plants too. The mulch will last a real long time

Well, I'll just have to scrape the pine needles off the compost pile and chop them up with my lawn mower. I'm getting the mower out one last time on Saturday to suck/chop the leaves that have fallen since last week.

So after I chop the needles up with my lawn mower, I'll add them back to the compost pile and sprinkle some lime on.
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Re: Pine Needles in Compost

Post  camprn on 11/17/2011, 9:46 pm

Pine needles in and of themselves are acidic, but once composted they do not make the compost more acidic.

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Re: Pine Needles in Compost

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 11/17/2011, 10:47 pm

When I went out this morning to check my compost pile, the temp on it was up to 132F and the needles that I put on the top(to sort of neaten up the pile) have started to turn black.

The highest temp I ever recorded was 120F. The key to really "hot" compost is manure.
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Re: Pine Needles in Compost

Post  littlejo on 11/17/2011, 11:33 pm

You are doing something right to get the temp up that much in the winter. The needles turning colors is a good sign. Once that waxy stuff on the outside is gone they should compost well. I agree manure will get the composting going quickly!

I will have to check the ph of my current compost and will make a batch with pine needles(chopped)and check the ph, before adding any thing for the ph. I've never checked, just thought that using acidic materials would make the compost acidic. Will have to read up on this. Jo
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Re: Pine Needles in Compost

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 11/17/2011, 11:38 pm

I'm tempted to get more pine needles. There's an endless supply a few miles from my house just laying along the roadside.
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Re: Pine Needles in Compost

Post  camprn on 11/18/2011, 6:37 am

One thing about roadside debris.... they are usually polluted.

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Re: Pine Needles in Compost

Post  RoOsTeR on 11/18/2011, 9:00 am

@Too Tall Tomatoes wrote:When I went out this morning to check my compost pile, the temp on it was up to 132F and the needles that I put on the top(to sort of neaten up the pile) have started to turn black.

The highest temp I ever recorded was 120F. The key to really "hot" compost is manure.



I will say I am impressed that you have your temps up that high! Mine has gone cold with our temps. I have it covered, added some green materials and pooh, but it just ain't happening. I will just let it be for the winter at this point.
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Re: Pine Needles in Compost

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 11/18/2011, 10:00 pm

nKedrOoStEr wrote:
@Too Tall Tomatoes wrote:When I went out this morning to check my compost pile, the temp on it was up to 132F and the needles that I put on the top(to sort of neaten up the pile) have started to turn black.

The highest temp I ever recorded was 120F. The key to really "hot" compost is manure.



I will say I am impressed that you have your temps up that high! Mine has gone cold with our temps. I have it covered, added some green materials and pooh, but it just ain't happening. I will just let it be for the winter at this point.

I uncovered it yesterday after the threat of rain was over and this morning, I checked the temp and it dropped down to about 120-123 F. It was really chilly last night so I covered it up again. I'll check it before bedtime and see what the temp is.

If the picture of the temp gauge wasn't so blurry, I'd have photographic proof that it was up to 132F(I'm still shocked!) That's what I get for relying on my cell phone to take pics.
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Re: Pine Needles in Compost

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 11/18/2011, 10:01 pm

@camprn wrote:One thing about roadside debris.... they are usually polluted.

I didn't really think about that until I read your post. I guess I won't go back there. There are large groups of pine trees in the woods that surround the boro I live in. I'll have to see what I can score there.

Thanks for the heads up camprn
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Re: Pine Needles in Compost

Post  Lindacol on 11/18/2011, 10:49 pm

@Too Tall Tomatoes wrote:When I went out this morning to check my compost pile, the temp on it was up to 132F and the needles that I put on the top(to sort of neaten up the pile) have started to turn black.

The highest temp I ever recorded was 120F. The key to really "hot" compost is manure.

The keys are manure and proper moisture. 2 days ago I turned my pile into another pallet bin and added 3 feed sacks of horse manure and a sack of leaves. Everything was pretty dry, so I ran a hose down in the pile in several different places for a few minutes. Piled it as high as I could, mounded up over the top of the pallets. Today the temp was close to 140F and has an earthy, pleasant smell and it had already settles to even with the pallets.
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Re: Pine Needles in Compost

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 11/18/2011, 11:29 pm

I sure wish I had room for another bin. That would make turning so much easier.
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Re: Pine Needles in Compost

Post  southern gardener on 11/18/2011, 11:54 pm

TTT, I think you're gonna have to bite the bullet, and make another one! yours is getting big quickly! I've had my piles at 140 with no manure...At our place, they key seems to be the green/brown ratio, and proper moisture. Moist but not wet. Have fun!!
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Re: Pine Needles in Compost

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 11/19/2011, 12:07 am

@southern gardener wrote:TTT, I think you're gonna have to bite the bullet, and make another one! yours is getting big quickly! I've had my piles at 140 with no manure...At our place, they key seems to be the green/brown ratio, and proper moisture. Moist but not wet. Have fun!!

About the only place I could put another bin is to the right of the current one. It wouldn't be right next to it but maybe 2 feet away. There's a dryer vent in the way. If I do put another bin in, then I'd have to remove ferns and some Solomon's Seal.

Once I get the rest of the rabbit manure(maybe 20 gallons worth), the bucket of fish "parts" I'm getting from the hatchery, and some leaves, that's going to be it for the winter. I need a new pitchfork. The one I have now has wide tines and it makes turning a P.I.T.A.
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Re: Pine Needles in Compost

Post  camprn on 11/19/2011, 6:45 am

I use my garden fork and a flat end shovel.

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Re: Pine Needles in Compost

Post  RoOsTeR on 11/19/2011, 9:12 am

I do still use a pitch fork from time to time, but I must say, for me a shovel seems to be easier.

This does not help keeping my pile warm lol cloudy-bummer
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Re: Pine Needles in Compost

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 11/19/2011, 9:48 am

hey rooster, is that your compost inside the fence? And, is that a tumbler I see?
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Re: Pine Needles in Compost

Post  RoOsTeR on 11/19/2011, 9:53 am

yessir:



Its some old snow type fence.
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Re: Pine Needles in Compost

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 11/19/2011, 10:04 am

oh ok....I thought that looked familiar. You posted that once before in a different thread.
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Re: Pine Needles in Compost

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 11/19/2011, 1:37 pm

I turned the compost pile today and noticed a few things...

1) Those pine needles I added earlier this week are composting nicely. They're almost all completely black

2) In turning the compost, I noticed there was a a lot of steam billowing from the pile. This tells me the composting process is working nicely even though the temp was 110F

3) I really NEED to rethink my composting procedures for next year. That pile of mine is getting way to big and heavy to turn it by hand.

Instead of letting the compost ingredients piling up for months on end, I'm going to do it on a month-by-month basis, and get a compost tumbler. In other words, I'll put a month's worth of compost materials in the tumbler and while it's doing its thing, I'll collect another month's worth of compost materials and add that to the tumbler once the previous batch is done.

I'm getting too old and my back can't take much more of this
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Re: Pine Needles in Compost

Post  RoOsTeR on 11/19/2011, 1:53 pm

Too bad you aren't closer, I could hook you up with all the barrels you need.
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Re: Pine Needles in Compost

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 11/19/2011, 2:23 pm

nKedrOoStEr wrote:Too bad you aren't closer, I could hook you up with all the barrels you need.

Ship it!

I betcha the shipping cost would be outrageous affraid

Now that I think about it, I think I might've seen those homemade tumblers on craigslist.
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Re: Pine Needles in Compost

Post  RoOsTeR on 11/19/2011, 4:06 pm

You may check at some of your recycling centers there. That is where most of mine go after they are emptied. They typically have so many they want us to pay them to take them crazy!
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