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Using pine now

 
Scott Stiller
Posts: 279
Location: North Carolina zone 7
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I have so much pine on my property. A lot of it is dying; being eaten by some beetle. I also have extremely alkaline clay soil. I've always stayed away from using pine but now I've reconsidered. Acidic pine mixed with alkaline soil should do ok I think. What does the permaculture community say about it?
 
Glenn Herbert
gardener
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Location: Upstate NY, zone 5
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It sounds like a good plan to me. Solid hardwoods will last longer in the core of a hugel, but pine will be available sooner... and the acid/alkaline balance idea seems sound (though I don't know how acidic pine wood is compared to needles).

I think it is principally a case of using the resources at hand - if you have a surplus of dead pine, put them to use.


I have a red pine plantation that I helped plant as a small child, and it is seriously in need of thinning. The wood has little commercial value, but I think what is too small or deteriorated for lumber for my projects will make good hugels.
 
Tristan Vitali
Posts: 297
Location: south-central ME, USA - zone 5a/4b
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I'd be a concerned about the potential for the allelopathic compounds more-so than the acidity issues and that might be the main reason the community generally avoids it...similar to the admonition to not use walnut or cedar in there. The whole "aromatic resins" thing ties directly to the presence of allelopathic compounds - if you can smell it strongly and it's "refreshing", more than likely it is anti-fungal and/or prevents particular plants from growing around it...at least that's my thoughts on it. If it's aged appropriately, or you're planning to grow pine-tolerant plants, it'd be a non-issue of course, but the resins from a freshly killed pine might outright kill a tomato transplant or peach tree. Might...I might be talking out my rear end here
 
Jim Tuttle
Posts: 42
Location: Southern Oregon
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Couple of misconceptions here. Using pine needles/duff does NOT drive pH down. I've tried to adjust my soil pH down using pine needles, it doesn't work. Pine bark on the other hand, when mixed in at very high ratios, does drive pH down (pine bark has a pH of 4-4.5), but you have to mix it at least 25% to see a pH change, especially if you have high alkalinity (which I do).

Pine does not stunt plants. Container growers on the east coast use pine sawdust as media all the time. I use pine bark as a component in my potting mixes. It DOES rob N, so they inject more to compensate. You're talking about using logs, though, I assume. In that case, no change in Ph will occur, except at the soil-wood interface, which is minimal for a log. Mixing in chipped wood would give you more pH change, but also much more N-def, and the wood will break down very quickly compared to a log.

Pine typically rots in the ground relatively quickly. Much faster than cedar, not as fast as mulberry, willow, or cottonwood. Use it!
 
Roy Hinkley
Posts: 211
Location: S. Ontario Canada
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Same problem for us, the pines are dying!
We have lots so we'll use it. In my case it's almost grassland (and sandy)so fast breakdown and any wood fungus is good.
We laid out dead logs, scraped off the top soil and rolled the logs into the ditch.

 
Jonathan Davis
Posts: 19
Location: North Central Ohio
dog hugelkultur urban
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I use pine for hugelkultur all the time and it works fine. I agree with others that it's not going to change your overall acidity but definately use it.
 
Scott Stiller
Posts: 279
Location: North Carolina zone 7
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Really nice comments; thank you.
 
Ryan Sharon
Posts: 37
Location: San Francisco/Gualala, Ca (zone 8)
forest garden hugelkultur woodworking
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Tristan Vitali wrote:I'd be a concerned about the potential for the allelopathic compounds more-so than the acidity issues and that might be the main reason the community generally avoids it...similar to the admonition to not use walnut or cedar in there. The whole "aromatic resins" thing ties directly to the presence of allelopathic compounds - if you can smell it strongly and it's "refreshing", more than likely it is anti-fungal and/or prevents particular plants from growing around it...at least that's my thoughts on it. If it's aged appropriately, or you're planning to grow pine-tolerant plants, it'd be a non-issue of course, but the resins from a freshly killed pine might outright kill a tomato transplant or peach tree. Might...I might be talking out my rear end here


In my area, we have just about nothing but allelopathic trees: pine, redwood and euc.

Like the OP, I don't really have much else available except for limited quantities of tan oak which I'd rather reserve for building purposes, if I ever harvest them at all.

From what I've been told by neighbors, our area has a very high soil acidity.

So, considering this and what Jim says below you, 2 questions:

1) How long would you recommend drying to mitigate the N-fixing limitation (we desperately need N-fixing).

2) We have King Bollette mushrooms that ONLY grow in pine stands; it seems they have a symbiotic relationship with pine roots: could this possibly negate/mitigate allelopathic issues?

Thanks in advance,
Ryan
 
Scott Stiller
Posts: 279
Location: North Carolina zone 7
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I've been using not quite composted chicken poo mixed with native soil. So far I've been doing pretty well with even heavy feeding vegetables and fruit.
 
Laverne Hendrix
Posts: 9
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I have a surplus of ponderosa pine because of a forest fire that went thru my area 9 years ago. I plan to put berry plants in the hugelkultur mounds so it should be fine from what I have read.
 
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