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Pine tree branches and needles

Robert Marr

Joined: Mar 10, 2010
Posts: 60
I just cut down two pine trees as they were getting too close to a building and would be soon too big for me to handle. I'm using the rounds as campfire wood but I don't know what to do with the branches and needles. I'm thinking of using some of the needles as bedding for my chicken. What should I do with the branches... I don't have a wood chipper and I don't want to burn them.
Rick Larson

Joined: Aug 04, 2012
Posts: 210
Location: Manitowoc WI USA Zone 5
Read the threads about hugelkultur!

Soaking up information.
Robert Marr

Joined: Mar 10, 2010
Posts: 60
Pine isn't really ideal for this I've read. Thanks for the suggestion though!
LaLena MaeRee

Joined: Jun 14, 2012
Posts: 148
I can't find the pictures of it now, but there is a tradition somewhere of using the branches of christmas trees as a kind of welcome mat/boot cleaner laid out in front of the porch of homesteads and ranch houses. It only works if the needles are still green I think, otherwise they fall off too fast. It actually works quite well, particularly the time of year christmas trees are being thrown out because almost every house has that muddy puddle you walk through before entering the house. We tried it this year and all of us loved it, we even kept part of the christmas tree stump nearby with a few branch nubs still on it for tough mud removal on our boots.

When you throw something away, there is no 'away'
Jordan Lowery

Joined: Sep 26, 2009
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
Bury them and plant goose berries on top. Gooseberries LOVE rotting pine.

The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings. - Masanobu Fukuoka
Me Wagner

Joined: Sep 10, 2012
Posts: 24
Location: SE Georgia Zone 8B
TY for posting this, I look forward to reading suggestions myself. We have those mounds of small trees, tops, and brush from when part of our land was cleared for a small homestead. I refuse to let DH just burn it, but I also know that pine tends to make soil very acidic (or so I've been told). I am just not sure what to do with it all, and wish we had a wood chipper or something. Some one mentioned hugelkultur to me, but I've not gotten around to researching it yet. Since most all of these piles are mostly pine, I'm afraid over use will make the soil much to acidic.

I am just beginning to learn about PC and new ways of doing things, and find I have a gazillion questions. Hopefully, suggestions here will help answer "one" of those questions

The choices we make dictate the life we lead...
Alex Brands

Joined: Jul 25, 2011
Posts: 53
I see this idea of pine needles making soil acidic all over the place. I've heard from only one person who tested the soil under his old pine trees, and found it had the same pH as the soil away from the trees. If anyone here has actually tested this idea, please post. I've never heard that pine wood acidifies soil.

In any case, I find pine needles are good mulch. I cut the small branches and lay them under my blueberries. I started this when I heard the pine needles/pH story, but have continued it mostly because all my other fruits have plants growing under them. The blueberries grow by themselves, so it's easy to dispose of pine branches under them.

I'm planning on using a pine tree for hugelkultur next year. Pine boards rot pretty fast in my yard, I don't see why buried pine logs wouldn't do the same.

Eric Markov

Joined: Jul 12, 2012
Posts: 100
Location: Bay Area CA zone 9

Pine has worked great in my hugelbeds. Used nothing but pine, large stumps, branches, bark. Put it in in March and had the best vegetable garden ever.

Also did 2 small beds where I dug in lots of pine and oak wood chips. These did great also.

In order of how good my beds did:

1. wood chips + hugelkultur
2. woodchips-bed and hugelkultur-only-bed were tied
3. clay only
James Colbert

Joined: Jan 02, 2012
Posts: 255
Hugelculture works with pine as long as it is added to the soil in bulk (not chipped). Chipped material on the top of the soil, whole pieces of wood under.
Me Wagner

Joined: Sep 10, 2012
Posts: 24
Location: SE Georgia Zone 8B
James Colbert wrote:Hugelculture works with pine as long as it is added to the soil in bulk (not chipped). Chipped material on the top of the soil, whole pieces of wood under.

James, I've been trying to read about this off and on yesterday and today, in various place while doing multiple things.. Perhaps you can help me?? I will try to take some pix really soon, but my question is....

*If I have these huge piles of mostly pine (tops, branches, smaller trees), guessing I would say maybe 30% other trees and shrubs including palmetto and water oak.. etc.
* The piles are 9-10'' tall x 20-25' roundish

Could I just move those, make a kind of layout with them, leave them on the top of the current soil, add other mixture of soil, hay, and make hills/mounds of them and use them as raised bed that way??
Is there a way I can also let those "mounds"/hills drain water down to the flat land on either side??

We have VERY flat land, which is more often than not TOTALLY dry! I would LOVE to make a couple large mounds/hills with this concept, and be able to grow stuff on it. I mean how cool is that?? I would be more than glad to move them, add some soil (have to have some brought in probably) add hay, manure, etc. and just let them sit there for a year doing their thing.

I just need to know what all I should add, Any thoughts on this TY in advance for suggestions!
Barbara Rhoads

Joined: Oct 22, 2012
Posts: 26
Location: North Eastern California
Pine Trees and their acid content is an old wives tale because plants do not grow well under pines. It isn't the acid in the soil around the pines that cause this it is because pine trees are nutrient sucking piggies. If you plant shallow rooted/shade loving plants under pines they do just fine. As far as decomposition goes conifers do tend to decompose slower than most deciduous in nature but that is most likely because of temperature, moisture content around the fallen tree, an the presence of critters/micro critters to decompose it. Anyway, I would say that using pine would be no different than using say Applewood or Birch. By the way DRY pine needles make an amazing mulch! Don't believe me, use it this winter in just one small flower bed. See the difference next year...
John Gros

Joined: Oct 26, 2012
Posts: 13
Choose a location for a hugelkultur bed and dig the top soil away, then lay the pine in there as high as you want it. Then place the top soil back and start gardening.
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