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Thread: Pine Needles

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    agentrdy's Avatar
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    Pine Needles

    I have quite a few bales of pine needles left over from mulching the garden and landscape plants over the summer. I know that in a lot of south Georgia bogs, as well as places in New Jersey etc., pines are the dominant trees and their dropped leaves often help acidify the soil and make for a great carnivore habitat. I'd like to start mixing them into my medium, and I have several questions about their use for those who have more experience than me.

    (1) What in the world do you chop them up with? Trying to rip them up is tedious not to mention splintery, and it's difficult to work them into the medium.

    (2) How, chemically, do they (and other coniferous vegetation like cypresses, cedars, etc.) help acidify the soil? Do they leach out something? Do they break down into something that acidifies it?

    (3) Pine needles turn, over time, a whitish-gray color from the original red/orange/brown. I know in a bog setting decay wouldn't occur as fast if at all, but why does this happen in "normal" soils?

    (4) Anything else interesting about pine needles anyone can think of?

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    scottychaos's Avatar
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    (1) Why chop them up?
    just put them in whole..

    I have also read that some Sarrs get an annual (or somewhat annual) burn in the wild,
    where the pine needle layer burns off, adding certain nutrients into the "soil"..
    someone here said (years ago) that they wee going to try burning some pine needles in the spring and sprinkling the ashes on their pots..
    I dont recall if anything ever came of the experiment..

    Its something I have considered trying, btu havent yet..

    (3) probably fungus..
    I also grow Bonsai in addition to CPs..certain pine trees need a specific fungus in the soil that provides nutrients to the plant..the fungus can be transferred by putting old pine needles in your bonsai pots..

    the fungus and the pine have a symbiotic relationship..each provides something the other needs..(I dont recall the exact relationship right now..could probably easily google it..)
    I have never heard if this fungus is also beneficial to CPs or not..
    I would guess not, but you never know!

    Scot

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    agentrdy's Avatar
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    I'd like to chop them because if I'm digging around in the medium (planting, digging out plants, dealing with younger plants with small or fragile root systems) I don't want to yank out a huge clump of pine needles or disturb any plants that I don't want to. They tend to interconnect and pull up a large area with them.

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    Always a newbie glider14's Avatar
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    (2) they are naturally acidic. like lemons

    (4) they are a good mulching material if you live in colder areas. the are open so provide air circulation and if tied down with something like burlap you have a superb mulching setup.

    Alex
    Everything is explainable. The seemingly unexplainable is but a result of our insufficient knowledge.- Hans Brewer

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    Hello, I must be going... Not a Number's Avatar
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    Get a leaf mulcher to chop 'em up.

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    Tropical Fish Enthusiast jimscott's Avatar
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    Maehem / Kate espoused the virtues of pine needles as a growing medium for her Neps. Aside from good drainage, they aided in disease resistance.

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