Pros and cons of using pine straw for mulch

pjames(8/LA)March 18, 2009

I am considering using pine straw around the strawberry plants I am putting out. I wanted to keep the fruit off the dirt and to help with weed control.

I do not normally use pine straw around any of my vegetables. I add compost occasionally during the growing

season and weeds don't seem to be a major problem in my raised beds.

My main concern was if pine straw had any major benefits or caused any problems.

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Pros: Fairly inexpensive; lasts a couple years before it rots; easy to use

Cons: Can increase the acid of your soil, however strawberries are quite tolerant to acid soil

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 6:27AM
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trisha_51(5 Nebraska)

What is pine straw? thank you.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 4:36PM
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alan haigh

Pine needles do not significantly acidify soil. It's one of those old gardening myths. I have done soil tests beneath pine trees that have been mulching themselves for decades and the pH was identical to nearby earth in sod.

Soft woods don't extract as much calcium from the soil as hardwoods and so you will be adding less calcium but it will not be a problem. If you need a higher pH you should add lime anyway. I have seen demonstration vegetable gardens at very well known botanical gardens using pine needles for mulch.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 6:39PM
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I was wondering the same thing about using it to mulch in my strawberry beds. I have white pines as a windbreak around half of my old property line and the needles have been gathering under them for years. It seems to me it would be a tidy mulch with much less tendency to mat up like straw.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 9:52PM
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I also have never heard about pine straw, so I googled it, and found a place that actually sells it on the internet! I guess you'd REALLY have to want pine straw!

Carla in Sac

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 11:31PM
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alan haigh

It's an excellent mulch and has been suggested by some ag U.s as a new industry- gathering and bundeling pine needles. I guess it's starting to take off. I would definately use it if I had large enough white pines on my property.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 7:52AM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

My son lives in the Paradise Pine area near Chico California. Residents there are required by law to keep the pine needles raked up as a forest fire prevention scheme. My grandsons made pocket money while in high school clearing the yards of elderly retired folks in the area. They hauled it to the local dump. It is very slow to compost, which makes it a good mulch. In a dry forest however it is a fire hazard. Al

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 9:12AM
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