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Re: Re: CULT: mulch (pine needles)

Laurie wrote:

>>>Mulching Medium/No. of Deaths
   Pine Straw/0

>>>.... but what exactly*is* pine straw?  Is this just the dead
pine needles that accumulate on the ground around the bases of
pine trees?  <<<

Hi Laurie,

I try to use the words 'pine needles' instead of 'pine straw'
since I also hadn't a clue about 7 (?) years ago on the former
iris-l what the 'straw' had to do with dry pine needles. 

I never mulch bearded irises in my climate - I did ONCE years
ago with pine needles, incidentally. No rot but plenty of mud on
my knees and gloves trying to get the darn things away from the
rhizomes when we finally thawed out. I remember the ice
particles clinging to half the soil that I pulled out and had to
replace later. Terrible job at least up here. It might be
benifical where they is a lot of freeze-thaw cycles. In Zone 3,
we didn't used to get a lot of thaw in the late spring but we
did the last two warm springs. Our bearded bloom peaks about the
3rd week in June. Beardless is a little later (Sibes et al) with
Japanese peaking (usually) the middle of July but I have had
Japanese bloom over Labor Day - first bloom not repeaters.

I 'always' mulch beardless irises with pine needles. Mainly
because it allows the soil to stay moist longer and allows light
in and also stays put in wind storms. As Walter said, it also
decomposes and enriches the soil. I leave the pine needle mulch
on year-round replenishing it periodically. It also looks
attractive. We have so much rain that even the dried bark mulch
does gets rotten but not the dried needles.

Currier McEwen told me that even tho' pine trees like acidic
soil, the addition of pine needles as a mulch didn't decrease
pH of the soil in his tests.  Currier and I garden in a part of
the country where the soil tends to be more acid anyway. Other
folks on these iris lists maintain that it does or they did when
I mentioned many moons ago. 



p.s. bales of pine straw must be in other parts of the country -
I just load up my car with bushel baskets and clean up under the
pine trees (always asking if the trees are on someone's land -
the owners are usually delighted..they consider them to be an
eyesore and saves them the raking). 

Ellen Gallagher     <ellengalla@yahoo.com>
Berlin, NH/Northern White Mountains/Zone 3

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