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Pine needles - do they make the soil acidic or not?!  RSS feed

 
Posts: 7
Location: Oslo
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Hi all,

I have two older pine trees in my garden. They are very tall and dont have any branches before around four meters up the stem. So they dont make any shade on the ground, and right under them is my best spot for putting in some raised beds. However I am noticing that I am getting a "free" mulch of pine needles everywhere I hear often that gardeners say that will create acidic soil. But as I did some resarch on it, it seems thats not true. Does anyone have experience with pine needles and if that makes any difference in the soil?
 
pollinator
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I think you are putting the cart before the horse so to speak.

Pines like acidic and loamy soil so that is where they germinate by their very nature. As the trees grow, they uptake that into their trunks and out into their branches and needles where they are shed and thus return to the ground. I am just as guilty as others in probably spreading forth the notion that needles of conifers make the soil more acidic, when it probably is not the case. Closer to reality, the soil was acidic by its very nature, it is just that the needles do NOTHING for making it less acidic. I don't think it is misleading information; I know personally I have not made the distinguishment because the point I am trying to convey to aspiring growers is that they have highly acidic soil. They have two choices: either grow crops that thrive in acidic soil, or be prepared to add lots of soil amendments to neutralize the soil.

There is a saying in farming: It is just a guess unless you test and it is not just a catchy catch-phrase. It has meaning. A soil test will show you where you are at and how to fix it. I have lots of pines, hemlocks, fir and spruce due to the soils here and acidic soil. That grows potatoes really well, but to grow corn or alfalfa we would have to get our 5.8 PH soil towards 7.0, and that requires TONS of lime per acre.

Years ago this county was one of the highest potato growing counties is the USA, but today NONE are left. Instead we have dairy farming, my own family included, however they are often failing and I believe a huge part of that is trying to grow the wrong crops on the soil we have here.
 
Anita Karlson
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Location: Oslo
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Ah, ok. Thanks a lot. That helped! Got to get my nose out of the soil and back up a bit to see the larger picture
 
pollinator
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Yes. Over hundreds of years, they will acidify your soil.

But two trees, all by their lonesome, dropping a bit of pine straw . . . it will take a long long time for that to change the ph of your soil.

Is your soil clay? If so, it's probably already on a alkaline side of the scale. I LOVE pine straw as a mulch. I've hauled-in truck loads of it. It breaks down so nicely and the worms love it.
 
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