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Are cedar needles okay?

Posted by north53 1b Manitoba (My Page) on
Tue, Oct 7, 08 at 22:37

In the bags I hauled home today for my lasagna bed, I noticed a lot of cedar needles. Are they okay? The smell was wonderful!


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RE: Are cedar needles okay?

  • Posted by jean001 z8aPortland, OR (My Page) on
    Tue, Oct 7, 08 at 22:43

Yes.


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RE: Are cedar needles okay?

Cedar....needles?
Do cedars have needles? They have branches with flat growth of leaves....but do they have needles.

Possibly the writer is confusing pine or spruce with what amount of needles are picked up.
If so, such needles break down very slowly...and this is the reason why they should be gone over with a mower at the same time that leaves are chewed up.
Much better, when removed from under the said trees, to use them as mulch where acid loving plants are grown.
The areas under such trees are very acidic in having the layer of needles that often are found....but when removed, such acidity is taken away and the ground does not have any degree of high acidity left.


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RE: Are cedar needles okay?

This writer is definitely referring to cedar foliage. It doesn't look very leaf like to me at all. In fact I just looked cedar up in the dictionary and it said it had needles. Anyway the correct terminology isn't the issue. I only asked if it was an okay addition to my lasagna.


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RE: Are cedar needles okay?

As jean001 has stated the answer is yes. Some people that have little real knowledge about gardenintg will tell you that this material from conifers, pine, fir, cedar needles, will lower your soils pH, ie make it more acidic, in spite of the research that shows this will not happen and the lack of research that demonstrates that soil pH will drop.


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RE: Are cedar needles okay?

Thanks Jean001 and Kimmsr. I can relax now and let my lasagna rest for the winter. The weather has just taken a very abrupt change, so I just finished in time.
Kimmsr, I was aware of that whole misconception of conifers and soil PH. It's amazing how often it is repeated in general gardening info.
The great thing about the cedar is that I've spoken to the owners, and I'm sure I'll be able to gather more of it for mulch in the future, as Jeannie7 suggests.


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RE: Are cedar needles okay?

The insolent remark of the non-gardener from Michigan is passed by considering the source of one that doesn't even have a lawn to speak about but endeavours to prove otherwise by quoting from articles he comes across.

So I'll return the favour and quote:

Lee Reich, contributing editor and author of Weedless Gardening, replies:
Pine needles do indeed create acidic conditions in compost piles and soils, as do most other organic materials, but there is no need to exclude pine needlesor any other organic materialsfrom a compost pile. The acidic conditions created by pine needles are only transitory. As organic materials decompose, they typically cause an initial decrease in pH (increase in acidity), but over time, the pH rises so that the acidity of the composted material becomes near neutral.

Even if pine needles did not equilibrate to a near neutral pH, or if you wanted to avoid that initial burst of acidity, you could still use them in your compost pile with good effect. Just sprinkle on some limestone, the same material used to neutralize acidity in soil, as you build the layers in your compost pile. Besides making the compost less acidic, limestone can improve the "feel" of the finished compost, making it less sticky. Dont be too heavy-handed with limestone on a compost pile because it wastes nutrients and causes odors as nitrogen is converted to gaseous ammonia. Also, you would not want to add limestone to compost destined for use under plants like rhododendrons and azaleas, which enjoy acidic soils (pH 4 to 5).

Although pine needles will not cause problems with acidity in the long term, they do break down relatively slowly. The reason for the slow decay is that the needles are covered with a waxy layer that resists bacteria and fungi, and, like other fallen leaves, they have an excess of carbon relative to nitrogen. The process could be speeded up by shredding the needles, thereby offering bacteria and fungi greater surface area at which to "chew" away. Decay can also be hastened by adding a nitrogen-rich supplement to the pile, like succulent, young plants in the form of weeds, thinnings from the vegetable or flower garden, and kitchen waste, as well as sprinklings of a seed meal, such as soybean meal.

Pine and spruce needles are used often as a mulch around acid loving plants. Azalea, rhododendrons are two prime examples. In the spring, such soil around these plants are given garden sulfur or other acid creating chemical.
Their mulch is prescribed to be an acid loving material and one of the best is in the use of pine and spruce needles.


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RE: Are cedar needles okay?

"Weedless Gardening" was published in 2001 and Lee Reich has written, in his series about soils in Fine Gardening magazine, in 2007 that pine needles will not change the soils pH. Apparently he has learned something between when he wrote that book and now.


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RE: Are cedar needles okay?

pine & cedar needles are very dangerous.

you better box 'em up & mail 'em off to Texas, email me for the address!


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RE: Are cedar needles okay?

There are a lot of unrelated plants all called 'cedar'.

True cedars do indeed have needles. Cedrus atlantica, Cedrus deadora.

Native 'cedars' mostly have flattened fans of needle-like foliage. Thuja plicata (red-cedar) here on the West Coast, along with Chamaecyparis lawsoniana (Port Orford-cedar) and C. nootkatensis (Alaska yellow-cedar). Some Chamaecyparis are called cypress, some are called cedar.

It is true that the soil in coniferous forests does tend to be very acidic, but that has been millenia in the making and is a combination of many factors - chemistry of the parent rock material, amount of rainfall, selective ion uptake by the coniferous trees, and accumulation of coniferous foliage debris. Simply adding some conifer foliage to your compost won't duplicate that process overnight!

Use those cedar needles. Best to use whatever organic matter is available locally. Though they will be slow to break down, and they'll poke you when you stick your hands in the compost.


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RE: Are cedar needles okay?

  • Posted by pt03 3 Southern Manitoba (My Page) on
    Sun, Oct 12, 08 at 12:33

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RE: Are cedar needles okay?

"Pine and spruce needles are used often as a mulch around acid loving plants. Azalea, rhododendrons are two prime examples. In the spring, such soil around these plants are given garden sulfur or other acid creating chemical.
Their mulch is prescribed to be an acid loving material and one of the best is in the use of pine and spruce needles."

So if pine and spruce needles produce high acidity when used as a mulch, then why would one have to use "garden sulfur or other acid creating chemical" to increase the acidity??? There's obviously some confusion here, so I'll go with my experience which is that evergreen needles are great for mulching the gardens, but don't count on them to increase the acidity since they simply will not.


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RE: Are cedar needles okay?

The first answer from jean001 was the best, simply YES. I think we tend to complicate things to much. If it's organic it can be composted. Somethings might be better and/or faster than others but over time it will all compost and be beneficial to the soil.


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