A Gardener’s Diary: Pine needles get new life

Excess pine needles can be tough to get out of the garden, but Jocelyne Sewell finds a new use for them

I finally managed to get all the plants that I am overwintering into the house. We were fortunate to have enough sunshine in the afternoons to give me a chance of getting things done in the garden.

The zinnias are still putting on a fantastic show of colours and the cosmos this year are outstanding. Some dahlias which I was late putting in the ground in the spring have finally opened. One of them I thought I had lost over the years but it bloomed this year. This is a yellow and red spider dahlia which was given to me in 1995.

Some of the plants in our gardens are gifts which remind us of the donors. A lot of the plants I have, I don’t know the variety of them but they go by the name of the person that I received them from. Every time we moved, a lot of my plants came with us and a lot of the people left behind are never far from my mind.

I finally got the scarlet runner beans down. I had enough for seeds and the other ones which are past their prime for eating fresh, are being shelled and will be used for making chili. As of last Sunday, I was still picking cherry tomatoes right off the vines.

The wind is blowing the pine needles from my neighbour’s tree all over my beds. I hate to pick those as you have to work with gloves because they are prickly. The worms grab them and pull them into the soil but the ends stand up and they are a mess to clean up. Since I cannot remove the tree, I have to make something useful out of it.

From http://homeguides.sfgate.com/proper-mulch-strawberries-26206.html

“Pine needles, also called pine straw, are a proper mulch for strawberries and slightly increase the acidity of the soil as they decompose. They are an ideal alternative to plastic mulch for strawberry patches with slug problems. Plastic mulch creates a moist environment slugs love, while sharp and prickly pine needles repel these creatures. Mulch with about two to three inches (five to eight cm) of pine needles a few weeks after planting or right after the plants blossom. Add pine needles to create a depth of three to four inches (eight to 10 cm) to insulate overwintering plants from the cold.”

The Effect of Pine Straw on Strawberry Plants By Kim Joyce, eHow Contributor (http://www.ehow.com/about_6665273_effect-pine-straw-strawberry-plants.html)

Pine straw mulch comprised of dried pine needles, creates a thick, protective mulch mat over plant roots but allows both water and air to permeate underlying soil. Sometimes combined with shredded pine cones, pine straw is an excellent mulch for evergreens, strawberries and other plants that need acidic soils.

The ideal mulching depth is generally two to three inches. Pine straw mulch, like other organic mulches, will decompose over time due to contact with soil and organic matter. This helps the soil’s overall structure — or the arrangement of soil particles — by improving the aeration for clay loam or silt soils and increasing the water-holding capacity of sandy soils. Pine mulch improves and stabilizes soil structure also by reducing soil compaction due to rain, irrigation and the weight of people or vehicles.

For more information: 250-558-4556.

Jocelyne Sewell is an organic gardening enthusiast in the North Okanagan and member of the Okanagan Gardens & Roses Club. Her column appears every other Wednesday.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dance stages Indigenous identity quest in Vernon

Tlakentli merges dance and theatre with two artists from Mexico, of Nahua and Mixteco descent

Pumphouse project puts Vernon taps back on Kal

The capital project at the Kal Lake Pump House to make it flood-resistant is near completion

Accident causing traffic delays in Vernon

The accident happened near the intersection of Alexis Park Drive and 42nd Street

Carlton Cards to close its doors in Vernon

All 254 retail stores across North America will close in the next four to six weeks

Okanagan among Canada’s most at-risk habitats: WWF report

Report found the Okanagan is inadequately protected despite being a hotspot for at-risk species

UBCO students raise funds for those affected by Philippine volcano eruption

All proceeds will be donated to the Philippine Red Cross

B.C.-based Coulson Aviation C-130 crashes in Australia

Three people are confirmed dead in the crash in New South Wales

New nasal spray launched in Canada to combat hypoglycemic shock in diabetics

Baqsimi is a nasal spray contains three milligrams of glucagon

B.C. RCMP spent roughly $750K on massive manhunt for Port Alberni men

Manitoba RCMP helped with 17-day search through the province’s northern terrain

Future space homes could be made of mushrooms

NASA explores use of fungi to build structures in space

Empty speedboat sinks off Kelowna shore on Okanagan Lake

This is the third report of a boat found in the lake in the past two weeks

Man killed by police in Lytton called 911, asking to be shot: RCMP

Howard Schantz, also known as Barry Schantz was killed following a standoff at his Lytton home

Most Read