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Pine Needles as Mulch?

Jun 17, 2010 -

I know, I know, all of us living in the Sierra Foothills have tons of them.  I rake pine needles out of all my beds and my compost pile, if I don’t cover it. Pine needles look like they would make a very convenient mulch and in some cases this can be true, but be careful.

So, the question was posed by a PVFS customer “Can I use pine needles as a mulch for my potatoes?”  I would advise against using pine needles to mound around potatoes and most garden vegetables.  I might put some in my compost pile if my soil ph is alkaline or mulch around my acid loving plants. Azaleas, rhododendron, chrysanthemum and roses all appreciate acid soil. Onions, garlic, mint and tomatoes are just a few of the plants in your vegetable and herb garden which would also enjoy the acid boost.

This is good news when your whole yard is carpeted with them.  I gotta go home and get out the rake.



Laura Lemay Says:
Jun 17th, 2010 at 2:47 pm

I posed this very question to a master composter (a subsection of the master gardeners) ten years or so ago.  Their answer was that pine needles as mulch will only raise the Ph of your soil a tiny amount and they don’t raise the Ph of your finished compost at all.  The soil is more acidic around pine trees because of the trees themselves not because of the needles. 

This was good news because like you I have an unending supply of pine needles I sweep up from the yard all the time.  Since talking to the master composter I’ve been using them as mulch in all of my vegetable and perennial beds and doing regular soil tests and sure enough—not a budge in the acidity.

Kalita@Peaceful Valley Says:
Jun 22nd, 2010 at 12:32 pm

“This is very good to know.  I was warned against using them years ago by a ““Gardening/Farming Expert”” and was surprised to find some websites suggesting there use.  I am now using them on acid lovers in my garden.  I will consider expanding to other crops for the sake of research.”

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