Two weeks ago I trimmed the bottom 5 or 6 feet of our spruce. I used what I could to build an arbor / trellis across our front entrance, put most of the rest into a small hugelbed (along with some lilac branches and some barberry) and my kids are going to make some wreath-like decorations for the holidays out of much of the needles that are left over. I'm also hoping to build a little bench out of some of the heavier lilac branches, but time might not be on my side with this one.
I understand what you say when talking about changing your thinking. This is the first time the thought occurred to me that the trimmings I have were more than things to be disposed of, and now that I can see some of the fruits of my labor, I'm really happy with it.
posted 4 years ago
I was concerned about the tannin in the Pine for a hugelbed. Did you research that ahead of time or have you done that before?
Location: PDX Zone 8b 1/6th acre
posted 4 years ago
My entire first bed (not the one done this weekend) was made entirely out of Doug Fir and it seems to be doing quite well, but I'm only about 4 months in on that one so the jury's still out.
I don't own a small farm (it's just a residential lot), and I don't need to produce food on my land to get by, so it may be easier for me to take the leap on these things than others. I am of the opinion that the tannens will not destroy the soil forever and ever, even under the worst circumstances. If it takes a couple years then so be it, but eventually the stuff will break down or wash away and you'll have some prime growing spot left over. If I'm wrong, I'll have two dead beds in a couple years and I'll be able to tell everyone about it, but I don't expect that to be the case. I expect worst case scenario I'll have slower than ideal growth for a little while, then some really nice beds. That is something I can live with.
On this last bed I dug I made a little keyhole row with two keyholes. The spine of this has the spruce in it and the ribs are just mounded up dirt with some grass at the bottom. If the stuff in the ribs grows amazingly well and the stuff in the spine doesn't, that should let me know that in the short term with the plants I choose, spruce isn't a good hugel material.
If you have a patch of land that isn't getting used for anything else, the worst thing you'll have is a failed experiment, IMO.
If you have chickens, you can use the pine needles for deep bedding. If not, you can use it to mulch garden paths (or garden beds). See http://gardenerscott.com/1/post/2011/11/uses-for-pine-needles.html for a bunch of needle ideas. Depending on the tree size, you could use the wood for any number of projects - to cut up and use as chairs, benches, and/or tables. Hugel beds as mentioned above. Chainsaw art if you're so inclined. Don't forget to save the sawdust if you cut it up. Plenty of uses for that as well.