Maineman, how'd your fall garden go?

veilchen(5b southern Maine)November 13, 2004

Just wondering how it worked out, and if you're still harvesting anything.

I still have lettuce out there, picked some two days ago to store in the fridge. But it's starting to deteriorate after repeatedly being hit by frost. The lettuce in the unheated greenhouse is faring better.

I picked the remainder of a bed of summer-sown carrots two days ago. I started to get a little worried that some were hard to pull up because the soil was starting to freeze. I have raised beds, so they freeze faster. I then mulched heavily with pine needles/leaves the other (full) bed of carrots. I hope this enables us to keep picking them thru winter.

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maineman(z5a ME)


I just harvested the last of the kohlrabi. The radishes did nicely but were an older variety that tends to run on the hot side. Some smaller kohlrabi plants are surviving the freezes but are not growing appreciably so I think they will go on the compost pile shortly. I didn't get lettuce or spinach planted although I had prepared a place for them. A few onions remain to be harvested.

I'm going to dig up the elephant garlics and quit growing them, at least for the time being, and use their space for eggplants. My daughter's strawberries still seem to be growing despite several hard freezes. I gathered some pine needles to mulch them with.

The fall pole beans made a single picking before the first freeze killed them instantly, but they tasted good. Next year's fall garden will be more extensive and a bit earlier. And next year I hope to put in some hairy vetch to act as a winter groundcover and spring green manure crop. I may try some raised beds next year. This year the onions were in raised beds without wooden borders and that seemed to work better than I expected. If I put in borders they could be raised higher. I really like not having to bend down so far to work in a raised bed.


    Bookmark   November 13, 2004 at 9:39PM
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Impressive gardeners here! I notice you both use pine needles for mulch. I would think that would increase the acidity in the soil...if so, what do you use to balance the ph with?

For the possible reason of changing the ph too much I have shyed away from using pine needles inside a garden bed as heavily as you both are suggesting. I have lots of pine around, as most of us here in Maine do, lol, so I would like to feel more free about using it.

Thanks in advance for any advice.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2004 at 10:57PM
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maineman(z5a ME)


Pine needles probably do lower the pH a bit when they eventually become part of the soil, but when used as mulch they are fairly stable and remain in the form of a pine needle mulch for quite some time because they are slow to decompose. Pine needles are considered to be an ideal mulch for strawberries.

If the soil does start to become too acid, it is easy enough to raise the pH a bit with a light sprinkling of lawn lime, which provides calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate, both of which benefit plant growth. And lawn lime seems to repel slugs as well.

If I come across a reference for using pine needles as mulch, I will post it here. I am also using some pine needles in my compost piles along with some dead grass as "nesting material" around the edges of my wire compost pens to keep the looser material from leaking through the openings in the wire. The fencing I am using to make my compost bins has a grid of about 1½" x 3" which is not ideal because stuff does tend to "leak" through. Fencing with a finer grid would be better. Some people use hardware cloth whose wires are spaced closer than one inch apart. Next time I will try to get finer fencing to construct additional compost piles, but cost will be a factor in how fine.

In the meantime I am using things like pine needles around the outside to act as a porous "seal" to help hold the shredded compost material in. I just wish we had more pine needles.


    Bookmark   November 16, 2004 at 12:03AM
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veilchen(5b southern Maine)

I used to worry about the acidity issue, until I read that it wasn't much of a problem. And after letting the pine needles fall on a section of my perennial garden for years, the plants were no worse for it.

Now I collect as many as I can, they're a great mulch. I have a pile set aside to put over my strawberries in another week or two. Also I am going to mulch my roses with the pine needles to winter-protect.

If I had more, I'd use them everywhere. They look nice after they break down a bit and lose their rusty color, turning brown. In the South I see them used as mulch all over the place--I think they're actually sold commercially.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2004 at 6:29AM
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I once used pine mulch in a walk way and found it slippery and that it would track where I didnt want it.

But atlas, Veilchen and the MaineMan have freed me from my fear of mulching gardens near plants with Pine Needles!

This is more fun than the day I started using fresh seaweed as a mulch in my garden beds!

However, forgive my silliness, I appreciate using what was right in front of my face as a great obvious organic matter for garden use!

I grow organicly so I would want to be responsible for gathering my own pine needles. Except that we still have snow covering the ground here.

Hey Cheers all-
I am too busy into the wreath season to get to collecting Pine Needles this year...but the tarps will be ready for the next shredding of the Pines!

    Bookmark   November 17, 2004 at 11:52PM
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veilchen(5b southern Maine)

Another plus is they are so light and easy to rake up. I volunteer to rake them up in my neighbor's yard so I can use them as mulch in my own garden. He got wise this year and asked me to leave him some so he can mulch his roses!

    Bookmark   November 18, 2004 at 7:28AM
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I suspect that the maine state tree will never be the same now! lol I like it better than ever before! And I liked it for the cones and greens I use to make wreaths with already.

Tell your neighbor that we cheer them on for using of the pine needles!

    Bookmark   November 18, 2004 at 11:55AM
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Although the greens look really great this year and the wreath making is going hands are itching and burning so that I will need to cancel any further wreath making. Often times I wonder if their may be chemicals sprayed on nearby commercial blueberry barrens which when sprayed drift onto the trees green needles which I cut as tips from a local tree farm.

The tree farm itself does not do any types of spraying, instead just allows to grow as it will, planned as a mix of pinus strobus (white pine) abies balsam (balsam fir) and Thuya occindentalis (northern white cedar). I pay by the pound to tip on private property. One must have a written document with signature of property owner, or you could be arrested and fined right on the spot- questions later.

My probelem is the nearby blueberry barrens and the possible drift of arial sprayings of routine chemicals during the growing season that may be coating the needles and irratating my hands...granted the acidic nature of the greens would do that on their own merit if exposed too long.

Cheers- Gg(2)


sorry for the hijak...I became afraid that one might think I was trying to peddle my for the record...

Pinus strobus is an awesome tree that produces the elegant and popular pine cone which is used and adorned well during the winter season. Its enlongated needles are great for mulching after you are done with your seasonal wreath.

Wreaths may also be placed in plastic bags and stored inthe freezer like one would a wedding cake and then taken out up to a year later.

I apologize and will no longer rant on...I promise to stay off this thread for its entirety to 100. ....bye....

......running and ducking

    Bookmark   November 21, 2004 at 8:51PM
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I used Pine needles from my Arkansas Pine trees, Pronounced Ar-kan-saw, to mulch my rose bed, appears it is acceptable to do so. I had heard one shouldn't use them.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2005 at 4:48PM
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