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Every year in autumn, trees shower gardeners with an abundance of falling leaves and pine needles. To not take advantage of them in our gardens is to waste some valuable (and free) renewable resources.
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I tried to burn massive amounts of pine needles; what was left resembles charcoal. Can I use this in my garden?
By Pat M.
As long as you didn't use any lighter fluid or anything like it to start them burning, you can absolutely use it. Biochar is great for gardens.
Please share your thoughts and "Do's and Don'ts" for composting pine needles. I have to circle the wagons and the troops and rake up all of them. I want to fill up the new 'wiz-bang' recycled plastics composter I purchased from the local landfill district office (It's about 42" high, and 4' across).
Bill in SE Mass.
Just mix with other compostable materials in layers and you're good to go. Compost does best when there is an equal mix of greens (fresh plant trimmings, kitchen veggie trimmings and grass clippings) and browns (shredded newspaper, brown pine needles, fallen leaves, etc.).
Oh, the pine needles would be a brown.
You are very fortunate to have 'troops'! :-)
Pine needles can acidify the soil so are best around acid loving plants - or presumably on alkaline soils!
As long as you truly "compost" the needles (that is, that you put them into a mix with several other compostable materials and let them break down into compost or dirt) the acidic ph of the pine needles will be neutralized.
You can use pine needles as mulch (that is, not composted) around acid loving plants: rhododendreons, evergreens, azealas, etc....
Should you shread the pine needles before adding them to the compost pile to speed up the process, or does it make a difference?
How long does it take for pine needles to compost?
Pine is slow to break down so chipping it before the pile can be useful. Shreading thing to be small before putting in the compost is true for everything in the compost pile. This helps make the process happen even faster. I have had temps around 300. which may be on the too hot side. you can bet that pile was steaming and no weed seed could live thru that. Pine does not raise ph levels enough to even talk about.
I think the best use of pine is around plants for mulch because it breaks down slowly. you can use thus ti your advantage. be mindful they can be sharp they are called NEEDLES for a reason.
Keep making beauty and stay connected to the earth.