Experience with pine needle mulch on vegetable garden.

itzybitzy_gw(7NC)May 10, 2011

Hello you all Today as I was putting some pine needle mulch(I borrrowed from my pine tree) on my vegetable garden I notice it has a smell(pin-e)so I second guess my self maybe it is not a good thing what do you say?

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I would say don't use pine needles, as they are highly acidic and the soil in NC is already acidic. If you watch around the pine you will notice that nothing but vines and ivy will grow. I have never used pine needles so I could not say from experience, but I would not advise anyone to use them. Hopefully some others will chime in as well and give their opinions.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 2:36PM
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farmsteward(North Carolina 7)

It's great for pathways between beds, but you may want to let it decompose and mix with leaves or lawn clippings to use around your plants.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 8:40AM
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memama_gayle(z8 NC)

I use it for my flowerbeds and garden area.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 9:04PM
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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

Itsy, they are slippery as all get out when they are wet. I wouldn't use bark chips either because they can carry all kinds of fungi you don't want around your vegetables.

Are you mulching around your plants or trying to put something between the rows to stand upon?
Are your rows raised or flat?
remember..what ever organic you put over the soil will first soak up the rain before it can get to the roots of your desired plants. that soggy mulch mats down and rots and prevents good air exchange,evaporation of excess soil moisture and healthy solar effect to kill weed seeds.

I'm not a proponent of mulching vegetable gardens.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 11:29AM
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linda_jo(Raleigh, NC 7b)

Ruth Stout used old spoiled hay she got free. Her gardens were incredible.(Ruth Stout, No work Garden, a great read) Mulch conserves water, prevents soil borne disease spores from splashing on plants smothers weeds and adds organic matter to the soil. The only problem I have had with pine needles is it takes a very long time to break down. I guess this could be a good thing but I need all the organic matter I can add.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 3:08PM
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Thank you all for the feed back,dottie I have a very small space is a walk in bed(with step stones) about 10x3 for veg. a 4x4 for herbs and also about 30 asparagus crowns that I planted early spring so I guess I'm doing 1" thick or should I say thin.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 3:50PM
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Tammy Kennedy

i wouldn't garden without mulch on veggies- they dry out too quickly and you have sooo many more weeds to deal with. That said, i wouldn't use pine needle mulch except for acid lovers or paths. It mats together well for moderate slopes, and suppresses weeds. The years we used it for paths i didn't notice it getting slippery, but it's been awhile. For veggies i'd use compost or well rotted manure under leaf mulch or shredded bark mulch. That's just what i've found has worked best for me. Rotted straw spread thickly works well, too.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 10:34PM
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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

I can see how in the South with such extended heat so many backyard veg gardeners make use of mulch but I was raised that the health of the soil requires exposure to air,sunlight and rainwater. Husband came from a family of farmers and his Dad was possessive of my small veg. garden and taught me the same respect for the soil that my own parents had. This was up North but Mom was from down South and she from a family who never used a lick of mulch on flowers or vegetables.

I never saw or heard of voles until I came South to an area where every neighborhood was newer and every house was 'landscaped' and embalmed in pinestraw.
Wonderful habitat for voles. Doing all their damage out of sight of owls and hawks and snakes.
I've been through 4 major droughts here and what little rain we did get went directly to the soil instead of soaking/dampening inches of pinestraw only to evaporate the next day while the shrubs suffered further.

Mulch saves you time and labor which is what generations before us accepted as part of the soil husbandry required to feed our families.
If your tomatoes don't produce as expected, you have options those previous generations did not have.

me..I like to feel the tilth of the soil in my hands and smell its richness and know when it is ready to accept seeds I need to grow food or beautiful flowers. I don't want to pull back the mulch, organic or black plastic and find that stinking white filiment fungus that grows in the damp, out of sunlight.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2011 at 1:20PM
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Pine straw will rot and provide organic material for your soil. As it brakes down it becomes natural just like anything else. Pine needles are only acid when they are green and first fall off the tree. They help build up the soil with organic material.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2014 at 11:55AM
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