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Old 01-20-2013, 04:22 PM
 
Location: Raleigh, NC
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Does anyone have experience using this? Is there something I can do like spread wood ashes to lower the acidity? We have a large number of pine trees and so a large supply of pine straw at our house. I don't want to buy mulch when I have something that I can use. We are also setting up a chicken coop for chickens. I was thinking that I could use the pine straw as chicken bedding as well and then add it to the compost bin when I clean it out. Any thoughts or experiences doing this?
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Old 01-20-2013, 06:05 PM
 
Location: the hills of TN!
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I use the pine straw to mulch my acid loving flowers and shrubs, and my blueberries. Not so much for the other veg.
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Old 01-21-2013, 07:04 AM
 
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Go ahead and use what you have and just makes sure it is completely dry and brown (aka aged which also means most of the acid has leached out already). It has been an old wives tail that soil will get overly acidified from a pine needle mulch but research has not borne this out. You can probably use it on all but the most alkaline loving plants without any issues. You should be aware of what your overall soil pH is though. Get a soil test done through your local cooperative extension so that you know now before adding the mulch and know your soil conditions. It's always wise to know what you are starting with and periodically check it. You may need to add lime or nutrients if you have an already highly acidic soil but the pine needles won't make much if any difference.
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Old 01-22-2013, 07:52 PM
 
Location: Land of Free Johnson-Weld-2016
6,441 posts, read 12,938,917 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pegotty View Post
Does anyone have experience using this? Is there something I can do like spread wood ashes to lower the acidity? We have a large number of pine trees and so a large supply of pine straw at our house. I don't want to buy mulch when I have something that I can use. We are also setting up a chicken coop for chickens. I was thinking that I could use the pine straw as chicken bedding as well and then add it to the compost bin when I clean it out. Any thoughts or experiences doing this?
I have big pines, too. I put a bunch of the "straw" on my new raised beds this year to insulate the garlic and onions. But this is an experiment, so I can't tell how well it will work in the long-run. Onion and garlic like alkaline soil, so I did mix garden lime in the soil mixture in my beds.

I have chickens, and I did put it in their coop area--where they refuse to be confined, by the way--along with a lot of leaves for them to root through. It has pretty much decomposed, and I don't think it did any harm. I have a compost "heap" and I've put the pine straw there for several years and doesn't seem to be doing any harm. I'd say leave at least little under the trees, though.

BTW before you get chickens, maybe you can learn from my mistakes. My chickens can jump at least 10 feet, and love rooting through my garden beds. They also eat and enjoy grass and weeds and have defoliated the area around their coop. I'd say make sure you give the chickens a fairly large confined space and be sure you put wire or something on top so they can't jump out. Even a tall fence and wing-clipping doesn't really keep my little dudettes under control.
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Old 01-22-2013, 08:40 PM
 
Location: Western Colorado
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When I lived in south Arkansas I used pine straw to mulch my vegetable garden. I was laughed at because "no one does that". They stopped laughing when they saw I had zero weeds and I had so many vegetables, I had to give them away.
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Old 01-24-2013, 08:10 AM
 
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There aren't too many places in the US where higlhy acidic soil is a problem. If you have done a soil test and found the pH is too low, then lime would be a better amendment than wood ashes. Personally, I love pine straw for use as mulch. Can't get enough of it for any type of plants!
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Old 01-24-2013, 12:05 PM
 
Location: Raleigh, NC
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Thanks for all the information.

Kinytoes, I have had chickens before (in a different house) and know how much they like to fly. We have tried electric netting which they just flew over, a 6 ft chain link pen which they also flew over. Then we eventually used wire on the top of the pen. I hate to pen them at all but we have some huge hawks that live in our yard. The chickens wouldn't last a minute.

jim, good to hear of your positive experience. hopefully ours will be the same. :-)

Tina, here in NC we have very acidic soil. My yard is full of azaleas, pine trees, and camellias, all thriving. I'll probably end up adding the lime when I make the garden beds.
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Old 01-24-2013, 01:38 PM
 
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Pegotty, just make sure to follow the application rate very carefully, ands bear in mind that it takes time for the lime to actually do its work. You may not see a rise in pH the first season, and also, there is a limit to how much you can actually change a soil's pH. I had a soil science prof who told us 2 full numbers (up or down) is about the maximum you could ever expect. Try to get your soil to a neutral 7, because alkaline soil can be a nightmare. I would actually kill for acidic soil!
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Old 01-24-2013, 02:14 PM
 
Location: In the Pearl of the Purchase, Ky
6,565 posts, read 11,912,349 times
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Pegotty, check with your soil conservation service. Here in Kentucky they will give you a small box for you to put a soil sample in. Then for $6 it goes to the University of Kentucky Dept. of Agriculture to be analyzed. They send the land owner a printout of what they found and what needs to be added to the soil. I'm pretty sure NC has the same program.
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Old 01-24-2013, 05:58 PM
 
Location: Land of Free Johnson-Weld-2016
6,441 posts, read 12,938,917 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pegotty View Post
Thanks for all the information.

Kinytoes, I have had chickens before (in a different house) and know how much they like to fly. We have tried electric netting which they just flew over, a 6 ft chain link pen which they also flew over. Then we eventually used wire on the top of the pen. I hate to pen them at all but we have some huge hawks that live in our yard. The chickens wouldn't last a minute.

jim, good to hear of your positive experience. hopefully ours will be the same. :-)

Tina, here in NC we have very acidic soil. My yard is full of azaleas, pine trees, and camellias, all thriving. I'll probably end up adding the lime when I make the garden beds.
Thanks for letting me know it works.

I always see birds of prey soaring over the area, but so far they haven't touched my chickens.

I don't feel bad. I feel sorrier for my poor gardens. I try to let them out of their yard on the weekends when I'm around to shoo them out of sensitive areas.
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