Pine needles are abundant in nature and found in all parts of the world. They are a rich source of organic matter and are usually added to a compost pile or used as a side mulch. The best way to get the maximum result from adding pine needles to your compost is to ensure that other materials are present in the right proportion.
One of the reasons why most people are against adding pine needles to their compost is because it decomposes slowly. But pines are not the only materials in your compost pile that take too long to break down your eggshells also take a while to get ready.
Before we get into how best to compost pine needles, let us first find out how safe it is to include pine in your compost.
Are Pine Needles Good for Compost?
Composting allows you to convert kitchen waste into pure nutrients for garden plants. So if you do have indoor plants or a front lawn, you may want to consider setting aside your kitchen scrap for the compost bin. Not all materials are compostable, before adding any household waste into a compost bin, you need to confirm that it is organic. What this means is that you cannot include any synthetic material made from chemicals and other additives.
If you look through your trash can, the chances are that you should be able to find organic materials that you can include in your compost bin.
If you happen to have pine trees growing in your yard, or close to your garden, you can collect fresh pine needles and add them to your compost pile.
Some people believe pine needles to be acidic and alter the pH level of the soil when added to it. The truth is that the pH of pine needles ranges between 3.2 and 3.8 when freshly collected, but after composting, it loses all its acidity as a result of the other materials in the bin.
Pine needles are good for compost as they are a rich source of carbon for your compost. Their acidic nature makes pine a good addition to the soil of acid-loving plants. Examples of plants that do well in acidic soil are raspberry, rhododendrons, gardenias, and strawberries. So if you have them planted in your garden, you can add in some pine cones or needles next time you make a compost pile.
Composting Pine Needles
A lot of people with a pine tree in their garden don’t bother to rake or clear the fallen leaves. They leave them on the ground to act as mulch for the tree. There is no problem with this method if you are not interested in a compost pile. One good thing about pine needle is that they don’t litter the place when they fall. So you can leave them without worrying about the mess. The pine needles break down slowly and add nutrients to the soil for reabsorption by the tree.
But if you are interested in making a compost pile with some pine needles, the process is relatively easy. All you need is to
1. Get a compost bin. You can find one to buy or construct one yourself if you can. The compost bin needs to be large enough to fit all the materials you toss inside. It doesn’t have to be too tight, it also does not have to be spacious. The right bin should fit all the materials you put inside it and be spacious enough to allow air to circulate. You have to consider this if you want your compost to be ready quickly.
2. Once you have acquired the right size of the compost bin, you will then need to collect some fresh pine needles. Collect as much as you can and then shred them into tiny pieces. You can do this by running your lawnmower over the heap of pine needles several times. Shredding is an important part of composting. All materials you add to your compost pile need to be broken down. You need to do this if you want the compost to be ready quickly.
3. You first need to throw in some grass clipping or vegetable peels to the bottom of your compost bin. The clippings and plant waste need to reach up to 8 inches in the bin. The next step is to sprinkle water on the clippings. You need to be careful to ensure you don’t soak them in water.
4. You can then add your freshly chopped pine needles into the bowl. You want to be careful to avoid using too many pine needles in your compost bin. Pine needles shouldn’t be more than 10% of the materials in your compost bin. Add 3 inch of pine needles to the 8 inches of grass clippings already in the bin.
5. Add in some water to the pine needles as you did with the grass clippings.
6. Once the pine needles are moist, the next step is to include some horse manure into the mix. You can make use of chicken or cow manure if you can access horse shit.
7. After adding the manure, you can now water the pile again like you did when you added the grass clippings and the pine needles.
8. You will need to repeat the process of adding grass clippings and pine needles if those are the only materials you are composting. Other materials such as kitchen waste, cardboard paper, and wood chips are equally good compostable materials.
9. After filling your compost bin with the right materials, you need to keep it in a section of your garden with direct access to sunlight. This way, the materials can get heated and decompose quickly. You also need to ensure you turn the pile regularly so as the materials can get access to air and heat. When you follow the right composting practice, your compost pile should be ready for use in a month or two.
If you are composting indoors, you can make use of compost tumblers instead of bins, they are safe to use in your apartment building. You can also make use of them to compost your pine needles and kitchen waste if you like to reduce food wastage.