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Are Pine trees useful for anything other than shade?

 
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The only 'forested' area of our small property is rows of Pine. Our west boundary is lined with Coastal Pine and has lots of brushy undergrowth including lots of Holly and English ivy. The Southeast edge is also lined but no undergrowth other than Ivy. We've now place some hugelkultur mounds between the trees there. My plan is to start our perma forest under them and move out towards the interior yard over time as my children grow and we need less running room. Assuming they were lined up as a wind break since we are half a mile from the ocean.

I'd love to utilize the Pine for something as they die off, drop limbs and shed branches. We have had to drop one every couple years due to them all aging out or dying due to ivy and risking a fall on neighboring structures. Pine chips are also the most readily available in our area. There are definitely native plant species that appreciate them, I'm currently promoting some of those on the west side. Plantain, dandelions will be included. I know blueberries, huckleberries like them. Last year we figured out our purple potatoes (peruvian, maybe?) LOVE the soft soil under the trees. I'm currently trying to get some hardy kiwis going under them but the more the merrier. Anyone else know of plants that will tolerate Pine chip mulch and needle fall? Annuals, perennials, smaller fruit or nut trees? I'd also love to know if anyone had luck with mushrooms of any kind. I'm trying to inoculate a log with Turkey tail right now, but would love more options.

What do you know about Pine?
 
pollinator
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I know blueberries and wintergreen both love growing under pines. The only places I've ever found them growing wild were in pine forests.
 
pioneer
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This is a youtube video I happen to watch not long ago about making baskets from pine needles...

 
pollinator
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chokecherries grow great around pines
 
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Abe Coley wrote:chokecherries grow great around pines



Hmm... I wonder if the seeds remained in them when they were dried and pulverized as an ingredient in pemmican:





 
pollinator
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Specifically what variety of pine?
 
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On my farm we have a gully filled with big evergreens they call Ocote with long needles. It grows edible mushrooms in the ground and since the ponds are in the same area the mushrooms have started to grow more and later in the fall. Needles also good for mixing with cement or bricks.
 
Abe Coley
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Burl Smith wrote:
Hmm... I wonder if the seeds remained in them when they were dried and pulverized as an ingredient in pemmican:



no the seeds are poisonous
 
Melonie Corder
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Janet Reed wrote:Specifically what variety of pine?



They are referred to locally as Coastal Pines but I think Shore Pine is the real name.
 
Melonie Corder
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Abe Coley wrote:chokecherries grow great around pines



Did I read somewhere that chickens like chokecherries? This ones going on the list, thanks~
 
Melonie Corder
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Jeff Hodgins wrote:On my farm we have a gully filled with big evergreens they call Ocote with long needles. It grows edible mushrooms in the ground and since the ponds are in the same area the mushrooms have started to grow more and later in the fall. Needles also good for mixing with cement or bricks.



I figure there must be some sort of fungi that enjoy the Pine, wish I knew which ones! Turkey tail is all I've seen grow on it but I wasn't always paying attention.
 
pollinator
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You can make pine needle tea and salves and the pollen is also edible.
 
Melonie Corder
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Jackie Frobese wrote:This is a youtube video I happen to watch not long ago about making baskets from pine needles...



Thanks, this looks like a great craft for the Ponderosa Pines that grow in the mountains near here. Nice long needles.
 
Melonie Corder
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Andrea Locke wrote:You can make pine needle tea and salves and the pollen is also edible.



The branches are too high for me to reach fresh needles but now that you said it I remember reading how wonderful it is. A quick search says it is helpful for lots that ails me so I'll be searching some out now.
 
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Shore pine would be helping with salt effects in the air if they are planted as a wind break from the ocean. Pines' allelopathy (deterrence of many other plants) largely comes from root exudates, and their needles and bark are not actually very acidic (6.2pH if I remember correctly). The needles make excellent mulch and bird bedding. In this part of NW CA, they seem to correlate with hedgehog and chanterelle mushrooms. Understory edibles that seem to mutually benefit from shore pines are evergreen and red huckleberries, salal, thimbleberry, wild raspberries and blackberries, hazel and tanoak. They also host many animal species (more than one might think). As evergreens, they are far more effective than deciduous trees at slowing and spreading rainfall that comes predominately in the winter in our climate. As they grow equally fast in our mild winters they pump sugars into the soil to support biota in the ground (like mushrooms) through the period when deciduous trees are dormant.
 
Melonie Corder
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Ben Zumeta wrote:Shore pine would be helping with salt effects in the air if they are planted as a wind break from the ocean. Pines' allelopathy (deterrence of many other plants) largely comes from root exudates, and their needles and bark are not actually very acidic (6.2pH if I remember correctly). The needles make excellent mulch and bird bedding. In this part of NW CA, they seem to correlate with hedgehog and chanterelle mushrooms. Understory edibles that seem to mutually benefit from shore pines are evergreen and red huckleberries, salal, thimbleberry, wild raspberries and blackberries, hazel and tanoak. They also host many animal species (more than one might think). As evergreens, they are far more effective than deciduous trees at slowing and spreading rainfall that comes predominately in the winter in our climate. As they grow equally fast in our mild winters they pump sugars into the soil to support biota in the ground (like mushrooms) through the period when deciduous trees are dormant.




Awesome info, thank you. I was just telling my husband last night that we need to head out to the woods and go hunting for some fungi so I can observe a bit more than normal. Thinking I'll get some wilds and try a slurry but not expecting either of those to show up until the understory builds up a bit. My sister once made fun of me years ago for planting right under the shade line of the trees, trying to grow some cold weather crops through the year. She said it was way too acidic and they likely wouldn't make it but the garden did fine. I also used those pine chips as mulch everywhere when we first moved in, including the main base of my cherry tree guild. That bed had the largest basil and ground cherry plants in my garden this year. Garlic did fantastic there too.

Considering a type of mixed guild with both natives and non natives. Want to add some Hazelnuts and Maple, wouldn't mind some Tanoak. Going to move over some wandering raspberry canes and see how they do. Yesterday I saw a couple of the native blackberry plants on the other side I'm going to move over. Not sure if the way we limbed up our trees allows them to act as they naturally would. It was done more to get rid of the Ivy and protect our neighboring properties.

Now that you mentioned the low acidity I may try some Oysters. I know they normally want hardwoods but wonder if a years dead Shore pine would produce even a small fruiting...

If you know of any great books on our specific climate and permaculture I'd love to add them to my list. Thanks for all the (localized) knowledge!
 
steward
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Per your original question "are pine trees good for anything other than shade", I'd say they are also good for a wind break.  They are good for building materials.  They could be a support species (shade, wind, structure, needle mulch, etc) for other plants.  They reduce sounds a bit and probably knock down airborne pesticides and pollutants.
 
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Well,
Considering that most Pine Seeds (Nuts) are edible and most have even an absolute delicious taste you could inoculate them with Truffle Spawns.
Into a healthy mixed forest they are either a must have.

download.jpg
If their cones are not killing you while you harvest them off cause
If their cones are not killing you while you harvest them off cause
 
steward
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Melonie Corder wrote:

I'd love to utilize the Pine for something as they die off, drop limbs and shed branches.



One beautiful way to utilize what appears to be a dead pine, or any tree, is to leave it standing. A dead tree is far from dead, and is instead teeming with life. It is the second half of a trees life. A tree that appears to be dead to us is providing a host to numerous fungi, is offering habitat for a whole host of insects to live at least a portion of their life, often as larvae just beneath the bark. These larvae, and then later crawling or flying adults, are an important source of food for many species of birds. Dead trees provide habitat for cavity nesting birds to brood and rear their young, and there are myriad secondary cavity nesting birds that don't create their own cavities to nest in but instead rely on abandoned cavities made by other species. There are many species of these birds whose numbers are in decline in part through a lack of nesting habitat. Somewhere in recent history, largely through the tree trimming industry, the idea was sold that a dead tree is dangerous, has no purpose and needs to come down. Often it's not until decades later is it realized that a common practice has unforeseen detrimental effects. If a tree that has lived its living life is of no risk to falling on a structure and possibly causing an injury, I believe it is important to leave them be to live out their second life.

 
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This thread might help!😁 https://permies.com/t/152508/Christmas-tree-Christmas-tree-lovely
 
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If you want a use for the stumps, fallen branches etc, except wood chips, you could make wood tar. It's a great, natural wood preservative, the production is not complicated and can be done on any scale, from tin cans and a small fire to giant rendering pits. If the wood is pinkish in appearance when cut and has a strong, peculiarly sweet scent, it contains lots of resin and is good for making tar. Traditionally, as far as I remember, the stumps and roots were the most used parts. The essence of the production technique is basically heating the wood in the absence of oxygen, and give the tar a vessel of some sort to drain down into. The tiny-scale version uses two metal jars, one big one with a lid (cookie jar) and a smaller one without lid (tin can). You basically just dig a hole in the ground that's just big enough to fit the tin can, put the can in the hole, place the cookie jar on top, punch a bunch of holes in the bottom of the cookie jar that open into the tin can, pack the cookie jar as full as you can with pieces of resinous wood, close the lid and make a small fire on top. It might be good to pack some soil up the outside of the cookie jar to make sure no oxygen gets in. Keep the fire going for a while, and the tin can should (hopefully) contain some wood tar, that can be mixed with vegetable oil and used as a wood preservative.

This, on a very much larger scale, used to be an important source of income for many people where I live (northern Sweden) a couple of hundred years ago. It was (and is) much used to treat wooden boats. Of course, the result might vary depending on what species of pine you have. In Scandinavia only the Scots pine is native, so I don't know how it would work with other species... (Note: wood tar is harmful if eaten, and can harm the eyes.)
 
Melonie Corder
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James Freyr wrote:

Melonie Corder wrote:

I'd love to utilize the Pine for something as they die off, drop limbs and shed branches.



One beautiful way to utilize what appears to be a dead pine, or any tree, is to leave it standing. A dead tree is far from dead, and is instead teeming with life. It is the second half of a trees life.



I would love to leave one as a habitat but the ones that are dying are up against a fence we share with neighbors and risk falling on their home. Yesterday I read more about bio char, may give that a shot.
 
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Bolete family mushrooms (porcini, slippery Jack etc) and violet chanterelles (pig's ears) grow under pines and form a symbiotic relationship with them.

Pines are also a good wind break, and are useful for creating microclimates. On the coast they will trap windblown sand, and I've planted young trees on the leeward side where they are protected from the salt and sand while the pine needle mulch traps moisture.
 
Burl Smith
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Abe Coley wrote:

Burl Smith wrote:
Hmm... I wonder if the seeds remained in them when they were dried and pulverized as an ingredient in pemmican:



no the seeds are poisonous









 
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