[NAFEX] Pine needles not acid!!!

Jim Fruth jimfruth at charter.net
Mon Oct 26 12:03:23 EDT 2009


    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
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