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RE: Speaking of pine needle mulch . . .

Ah the joys of composting Maddy.............I wish I could have seen the
"dance" ;-) 

Good essay too!

Andrea H
Beaufort, SC 

> [Original Message]
> From: <MyTGoldens@aol.com>
> To: <gardenchat@hort.net>; <gardenchat-digest@hort.net>
> Date: 6/23/2005 3:02:35 PM
> Subject: [CHAT] Speaking of pine needle mulch . . .
> I had to grin when I read Kitty's question about using pine needles  for
> mulch. I wrote the following short essay and sent it in to a  gardening
> magazine a
> number of years ago, for possible publication.  No, it didn't get picked
> publication, but all of you might get a kick out of  this true story from
> younger gardening days!
> *************
> It was some years ago when I was trying to establish my garden on  an
acre of
> miserable hardpan soil, and desperate for any kind of organic matter  I
> lay my hands, but where was all this wonderful organic matter to come 
> I happen to be very fond of pine needles, so I was thrilled when  my
> told me she had a friend with a large stand of pine trees on her  property
> who wanted the pine needles raked up. Why, I canbt imagine, but she got 
> job
> done for nothing and I got the pine needles for free. What a windfall! 
For 2
> whole days I collected endless bags of pine needles, laboriously picking 
> the twigs and branches, and piled them into my van. I figured I'd let them
> compost for a season, and have wonderful, rich organic mulch which would
> only loosen up the clay, but would help acidify my extremely alkaline
soil. I
> piled the pine needles nearly 4 feet deep in a far corner of my property,
> left nature to do her work until the following year, while I dreamed of
> mountains of fluffy pine needle compost.
> One day I decided it was time  to harvest my brown gold, and took my
> pitchfork and wheelbarrow to the compost  site. I thrust the pitchfork
> into the
> pile and started forking it into the  wheelbarrow. Suddenly I felt
> stinging my legs. I looked down and to my  horror discovered some kind of
> aggressive ants crawling all over me! I must  have been a humorous site
as I
> thrashed about, screeching and swiping wildly at  the biting insects.
When I
> managed to get them off me, I looked into the gaping  hole in the compost
> pile,
> and the whole pile appeared to be moving! All that  work, all that time,
> those beautiful pine needles had turned into one  gigantic ant hill!
> The burning and itching from the ant bites subsided  after several days,
> I
> bll never get over the bstingb of watching all that  beautiful mulch go
> to
> waste. (I was not interested in spreading biting ants  around my entire
> garden!)
> We have recently moved to another part of the  state, and I am now faced
> starting my gardens all over again. Fortunately,  it turns out I have a
> friend right across the road who has a barn full of donkey  manure which
> says I
> am welcome to use for my garden. I understand it makes a  great organic
> amendment after composting for a year or so. .  .
> Maddy Mason
> Hudson Valley, NY  zone 5/6
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
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