[NAFEX] Pine needles not acid!!!

nottke1 nottke1 at earthlink.net
Mon Oct 26 14:00:53 EDT 2009


Jim,

As a retired chemist, I appreciate your experiments and respect your results.
But as a gardener, I have observed that "acid-loving plants", such as holly, azalea, and blueberry all thrive well when mulched with pine needles (though blueberry does even better with pine sawdust).
I conclude that "acid-loving plants" like pine needles (and pine sawdust) for some reason other than acidity - like maybe the terpenes or phenolics.

Jim

-----Original Message-----
>From: Jim Fruth <jimfruth at charter.net>
>Sent: Oct 26, 2009 12:03 PM
>To: NAFEX <nafex at lists.ibiblio.org>
>Subject: [NAFEX] Pine needles not acid!!!
>
>    Maybe I should save this letter because I keep repeating it every year 
>for the benefit of new members:
>
>    Every few years I teach a Horticulture class and for the first day of 
>class I bring a bunch of fresh dry pine needles, a bunch that has been used 
>as mulch for a year and some nearly composted but still recognizable, along 
>with a beaker, stirring rod and distilled water and a pH meter.
>    First I crush the dry needles as finely as I can by hand, place in the 
>beaker, add the distilled water, stir and let set for a few minutes.  Then I 
>insert the pH meter probe and ask a student to read what it says.  "Oh, it's 
>alkaline," is the usual response.  Not very alkaline - pH 7.2 is normal. 
>When the other two tests are performed, the pH reads 7.0.
>    I don't do a similar test for Oak leaves but have observed that the soil 
>pH doesn't change by incorporating the leaves into the soil.
>    I can't say with certainty that no pine needles are acidic because I 
>haven't tested them all.  I have tested a great many, though.
>
>Jim Fruth
>Brambleberry Farm
>Pequot Lakes, MN  56472
>For jams, jellies, syrups and more:
>www.jellygal.com
>1-877-265-6856 (Toll Free)
>1-218-831-7018 (My Cell) 
>
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