With needles instead of regular leaves and cones, pines are popular landscaping evergreen trees that give a stately look to the area and add color to the garden even during the winter. Planting near a pine tree is slightly tricky as the soil directly below and around is acidic, shady and dry. Gardeners planning on growing crop near the pine trees should consider appropriate vegetables and plan accordingly.
Soil Chemistry Alteration
Pine trees drop needles on the ground below that alters the chemistry of the soil. The acidity of the soil increases, thus preventing many types of vegetables from growing there. Gardeners should consider raised beds with landscape timbers, or add lime to the soil to correct the imbalance by reducing acidity. Lime enables the soil to resist leeching acid that spreads from rain or irrigated water.
Lack of Rain Penetration
The dense foliage of pine trees prevents rain water from reaching vegetables directly below. This is the reason the soil underneath is usually dry, requiring frequent irrigation. Avoid planting the vegetable patch directly under the canopy, and water by hand to ensure the soil is evenly moist.
Certain plants prefer slightly acidic and shaded soils prevalent under or near pine trees, such as azaleas, day lilies, wild strawberries, geraniums, lily of the valley, hostas, some types of ferns, types of grasses, bleeding hearts and periwinkle. Rhododendron and azaleas love the acid-dense needles that are spread over them as mulch. Choose vegetables that grow in full to moderate shaded spots that are moderately dry and moderately to highly acidic.
For vegetable gardening directly under or near a pine tree, rake and remove all the pine needles and dig down deep enough to remove up to 4 inches of soil. This removes the hardened and acidic soil. Add equal amounts of topsoil and compost or well-balanced fertilizer over the area until it's level with the surrounding. Such double-dug beds provide the vegetables the type of soil they need--well-drained, neutral and packed with organic matter. Consider planting seedlings that have a better chance of growing than seeds that may or may not germinate. Clean dropped needles frequently before the acid they contain dissipates in the soil.
Test the soil under or near the pine tree frequently to ensure it remains within the range required for the specific vegetables growing there. This is all the more necessary if there are many pine trees in the area, or during rainy season when acid spreads to the surrounding area.
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