In a pine-rich country like Greece, dry pine needles are abundant. They can be used in the garden. They are very useful if used properly and with care. But they are misunderstood and treated as difficult to manage waste.
Under a pine tree, whole layers of dry pine needles are created that fall from the tree. All of this organic material is usually treated as annoying junk that we want to rid our garden of.
Many people don’t know what to do with them. Others throw them in the trash.
I hope through this article, we will discover new uses and begin to appreciate and utilize them in the garden and at home.
See them in a new light. After reading the article, treat them as a blessing and not a problem. Feel lucky because they are so useful that abroad some people sell them to their neighbors.
Pine needles make the soil acidic. Not true!
There has been a misconception about pine needles and how they affect soil pH.
Most people believe that putting them in the soil will make it acidic. That is, it will lower the pH of the soil because pine needles are acidic.
This is not true. Dry pine needles are not acidic. They do not affect the pH of the soil and can be used without fear.
They do not make the soil acidic!
Dry pine needles – weeds 1-0
We can put dry pine needles around the trunk of trees. The layer of pine needles should be thick enough. 5 cm or more.
You will notice that no weeds will be able to grow around your trees. Some very aggressive weeds will manage to grow and appear, but they will be really minimal.
Usually, before I put the dry pine needles around a tree, I make sure I dig the soil well to remove the weeds. If I need to apply fertilizer. That’s because it will be harder to do all that afterwards. But if there is a need for digging and fertilizing, I can temporarily move the dry pine needles, do the work, and then put them back in place.
The pine needles, being the organic material that they are, decompose as well. But at a much slower rate than the leaves. And they don’t change the pH of the soil. They don’t make it acidic.
In the coming months, you’ll need to add additional pine needles around the trees to continue to provide their beneficial effects.
In the summer, this layer of dry pine needles will reduce water evaporation around the trees. The watering you do will last for longer.
Dry pine needles in the compost
You can add dry pine needles to compost.
But you should not overdo it. A proper compost contains layers of green and dry organic materials. Some of the layers of dry materials may well be made from dry pine needles.
The dry pine needles in the compost improve its aeration.
They will also decompose, but this will happen more slowly. But it’s not a problem.
Again, they won’t affect the pH of the compost.
Dry pine needles for ground cover
You can spread dry pine needles in the parts of the garden where you don’t want to prevent weeds from growing.
I often use them around vegetable and vegetable beds.
As the beds are regularly watered and contain rich soil, the space around them is a fertile ground for weeds to grow. They grow very well because of the ideal conditions they find.
By placing weeds around the beds, I drastically reduce this phenomenon. I have really been saved!
Dry pine needles and vegetable garden
We can spread a layer of dry pine needles in the vegetable garden, around vegetables, herbs and herbs.
It will make the vegetable garden cleaner and healthier. They will prevent weeds from growing, so we’ll have less work to do removing weeds and weeding.
They will also keep the moisture around the plants, especially in the summer months. So the plants will be properly hydrated with less watering.
Pine needles to protect against snails
If you want to protect a plant from snails, you can spread a layer of dry pine needles around it.
Snails, avoid crawling up on places that might hurt their soft bodies. And the spines of pine needles are one such place.
Pine needles for tinder
Because pine needles are flammable, they can be used as tinder on the fireplace or wood stove.
They can be gathered and tied into bundles with string. Store the bundles for tinder in the winter.
Also, you can put them inside small paper bags and then tie the outside of the bags as bundles. That way they are tidier.
And that leads us to the following.
Dry pine needles are flammable!
However you decide to use dry pine needles, you should always remember that they are flammable.
Do not smoke or light a fire near them.
Do not put them in areas of the garden where they could spread fire in the event of a fire.
This is the only disadvantage they have!
Pine needle morphology
In pine trees, the leaves (pine needles) are needle-shaped, arising in spines every 2, 3 or 5 at the top of small branchlets called brachyceps, and surrounded by a membranous coleus.
Externally there is a monolayer of epidermis, with strongly dehiscent cells and stomata very submerged towards the interior of the leaf.
Beneath the epidermis, lies the hypodermis (two or three rows of sclerocytic cells).
The mesophyll is composed of parenchymal chlorophyll cells with characteristic folding (involution) of their walls. The mesophyll also contains the resinous pores. They can be identified under the microscope as white round spaces surrounded by glandular cells.
An endodermis is also observed (surrounding the two ethmoidal bundles located at the central position of the leaf). The cells of the endodermis appear elongated, thick-walled, without chloroplasts. Between the ethmangiectatic bundles there is a storage parenchyma.
Pine needles can be used in many ways in the garden.
Dry pine needles do not lower the pH of the soil. They do not make it acidic.
Use dry pine needles around trees, for ground cover, to keep weeds from coming up, in the vegetable garden, in compost, for snail protection, for tinder.
Pine needles are flammable.