can I use my pine needles for mulch

tracydr(9b)October 26, 2009

I have such a mess of pine needles in my yard that I need to clean up. I keep buying shavings to mulch with and need more now. Can I just use my pine needles for mulch? Was going to put in my new compost bin but there are really too many. Hate to throw something biodegradable away, once again. And, than go by something. Seems so silly.

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wirosarian_z4b_WI

Yes, in some areas of the country they are sold as "pine straw" for mulch. It used to be that people avoided pine needles because they would acidify your soil but recent reports say that pine needles are not as acidifying as previously thought. Additionaly I see you live in an area of the country that probably has alkaline soil so it should be no problem. The only concern I can think of is putting a lot of them next to a building is not good if there is any wild fire danger in your area.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2009 at 6:09PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

I use pinestraw (needles) and virtually nothing else as mulch. I think it's wonderful. It's neat, virtually weedfree (do pick out the pinecones), and will last a full year if you use 4 to 6 inches of it and don't do alot of digging under/over it. It has virtually no effect on the Ph of your soil. By all means, use it!

    Bookmark   October 26, 2009 at 8:07PM
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tracydr(9b)

This is so great to know! I fill like such a blonde for not finding this out before buying close to $100 of wood shavings this year and nearly buying more. I the acidity thing had me concerned but like you say, we do have a more alkaline soil. My soil was dug down to about 6" and I dumped in some bagged garden soil which I turned over a little but for the most part my plan is to continue to amend as much as possible from the top down so that the bottom hopefully improves itself by becoming farther away. The woodchips have rotted into the good garden soil and is mixing itself in nicely so that the mulch layer needs to be replaced for winter planting.
Although, the pepper HAWGS have taken over 2/3 the original garden so I'm almost starting over now on the other side with a new 3X20 (actually a triangular going from 4-2 ft in the width) plot we just completed this week.As soon as the babies are large enough I'll mulch everything with 4-6" of pine mulch.
Very excited that I can use something that has been a pain to get rid of up til now!!

    Bookmark   October 27, 2009 at 2:40PM
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familyman2004(z8 MS)

Pine neddles/ straw makes an excellent/ wonderful mulch. I have used it for years originally only during the hot dry summer for weed supression and moisture retention. I now use it year round it works well on the winter weeds and grasses.

My old method was in the spring rake off the pinestraw from my garden beds add compost, till then put old pinestraw back on and add new straw to vegtable beds. In my opinion the old pinestraw makes the best mulch for veggies because it has partially broken down and can be placed easier and closer to the plant stems with less potential to smother the plants it also lies flatter whch is good. I also somtimes comeback and add an additional layer after the intial one has been rained on and flattens somewhat and also the plants have grown and the risk of them being smothered/covered by the pinestraw mulch is less.In the end the thicker the better.

This year I am experimenting with no till by raking off the old pinestraw adding a thick layerof composted cow manure ( I found a free source) then digging my planting holes with a post hole digger sprinkle a small amount of slow release fertilizer in the bottom of the the planting holes. Then planting and reapplying the old pinestraw and adding new. If it were not for the pinestraw/ mulch this would be a disater the free cow manure even though it has been composted to a soil like state has so many weed seeds that my garden would be over run with weeds in a matter of weeks.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2009 at 6:29AM
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familyman2004(z8 MS)

I also forgot to mention (earlier post) that I am going to begin using it in some flower beds after adding a dense layer of composted leaves and stuff that the city gives away free and also has weed seeds or cow manure .(It seems like the free stuff that I love to add to my garden has the toughest and fastest growing weed seeds in it)
My main reason for using it here in addition to weed suppression and moisture retention to my knowledge pinestraw is not a food source for termites as bark and woodchips are. I am sure that they would enjoy the moist environment that the pinestraw provides.

When I tell some folks what I am doing with pinestraw in my veggie garden they act as if it is so strange and unusual my saying is " there is a reason that grandpa left the farm it wasn't because he didn't enjoy growing stuff anymore it was because he hated weeding."

When my wife first brought the idea of mulching veggies to my attention years ago she showed me an article by a local guy in which he listed the benefits of mulching veggies and ended the article with the statement that I have found to be so very true " Some folks just don't get it"

    Bookmark   November 8, 2009 at 6:58AM
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treeforme

Good call on the Pine needles helping out alkaline soil. I hadn't thought about that. Thanks!

    Bookmark   last Thursday at 3:18PM
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