Grit Blogs > Life on a Southern Farm

Pine Straw Mulch and Making Pine Straw Bales

Here in the southeastern states, the pine trees are abundant – which means so is pine straw.

Pine straw comes from several different species of pine trees. The pine trees drop their needles naturally throughout the year. Once the straw drops to the ground, it can be baled, used for mulch and many other uses, without ever having to cut down a single tree.

Pile of pine straw in Georgia. They can provide mulch, bedding for biddies, or nesting straw, among other things.

The pine trees also produce pine cones.

Large pine cones on the picnic table.

Baling and selling pine straw is a large industry here in Georgia. (Bale modeled by Lionel the cat)

Bale of pine straw modeled by Lionel the Cat.

The Loblolly Pine tree is one of several native pine trees and is the most important commercial timber tree in the southeastern United States.  There are also Long Needle, Short Needle, Slash, Spruce and I am sure other varieties of Southern Yellow Pine trees growing everywhere in rural and not so rural areas of Georgia.

We planted about 15 acres of Loblolly pine trees 14 years ago. The trees are now bearing and shedding enough pine needles to use for mulch around the farm. We use the mulch in the raised beds and garden.

Pine straw used as mulch.

The pine straw doesn't float and wash away. It breaks down more slowly so it doesn't need to be reapplied as frequently as other mulches. The pine straw mulch also helps hold in moisture in our long, hot, and usually dry summers here in Georgia.

Lettuce growing in Georgia.

We pile the pine straw heavy around the tomato plants.

Delicious looking tomatoes grow on pine straw mulch.

It makes great mulch for my flowers.

Pine straw mulch is also good on the flowers.

We use pine straw in the nest boxes.

Pine straw in the nesting boxes for our laying hens.

Pine straw is great in the brooder. We found it better than wood shavings because the biddies (baby chicks) can't eat the pine straw.

Pine straw is excellent in the brooder.

We use this pine straw baler my husband made to bale pine straw.

Homemade pine straw baler.

How to make a bale of pine straw.

Step 1 in making a bale of pine straw.

Step 2, mashing the straw.

Step 3, adding more pine straw and mashing.

Step 4, tying the baling string.

Finished bale in the baler.

Stack of pine straw bales.

Looking down the row of pine trees.

We store the bales in the barn loft.

Storing pine straw bales in the loft.

Where the bales of pine straw sometimes serve another very important purpose. A nest to hatch more barn banties.

More barn banties in the loft.

Awww, chicks and their momma.

What do you use for mulch? Do you have other uses for pine straw?