What are Pine Fines?
Pine firs (Pinus contorta) are one of the most common trees found in North America. They grow from sea level to around 2,000 feet elevation. The tree is native to Europe and Asia and was introduced into North America over two centuries ago by early settlers. Today they form a large forest covering nearly 1/3 of the land area in California, Oregon, Washington State and British Columbia Canada. Pine firs have a long history of use in Native American culture and are still used today. The wood is very strong, resistant to insects and diseases, and it is considered a good insulator.
The tree has been used for firewood since time immemorial. Firewood made up the majority of their diet during cold winters when food sources were scarce. The trees produce cones which contain resin that makes them suitable for making candles, incense sticks, or even paper mache figures. The trees are also used for building materials.
They make excellent structural timber because of their strength and resistance to rot.
In addition to being used for firewood, pine firs are often used as lumber due to their strength and durability. A single pine fir can support a weight of 10 tons! Because of its high density, it is commonly used in construction projects such as bridges, dams, foundations and other structures. It is a popular choice for construction and woodworking projects where strength is a priority.
Pine firs are often used as a source of fiber for making paper, clothing and rope. Native Americans used to weave the soft inner bark of the tree to make shirts and dresses. The woody parts of the tree were also carved into useful everyday tools such as spoons, bowls, ladles, skis and more. European settlers learned to use the soft inner bark for making paper.
The long, strong wood fibers were used to make ropes and cables, while sawdust was used in the tanning industry.
Pine firs have a very high rate of growth and are easy to grow from seed. They grow straight and tall without any special care. Because of this, they are sometimes used in reforestation projects to help restore areas of land that have been destroyed by fire or over-grazing. They are used for this purpose in Australia, the US and Canada.
Most of the wood found in a pine tree is made of strong cellulose fibers. These fibers must be broken down into a form that can be used as plant food and soil conditioner. This is commonly done through a process called chipping. Chipping uses a heavy machine to chew up the wood into small pieces.
These small pieces are then further compressed into dense pellets of cellulose fiber or ‘fines’.
Pine fines are sometimes known as ‘pine bark nutes’ simply because they behave in a similar way to a nutrient-rich soil additive rich in organic matter. However, they aren’t quite the same thing.
How do you use pine fines?
The compressed pine bark nutes are soaked in water for at least 24 hours before use. They can then be added directly to the soil where they will slowly break down and release nutrients to feed your plants. Because they are often acidic, you may want to mix them with an equal amount of organic peat moss before adding them to your soil.
It’s pretty simple to use these products, but you should read the instructions on the packaging before making a purchase.
Sources & references used in this article:
Prescribed-fire effects on fine-root and tree mortality in old-growth ponderosa pine by DM Swezy, JK Agee – Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 1991 – NRC Research Press
Fine root distribution of trees and understory in mature stands of maritime pine (Pinus pinaster) on dry and humid sites by MR Bakker, L Augusto, DL Achat – Plant and Soil, 2006 – Springer
Changes in some physical soil properties after a prescribed burn in young ponderosa pine by RF Tarrant – Journal of Forestry, 1956 – academic.oup.com
Above-and belowground phytomass and carbon storage in a Belgian Scots pine stand by IA Janssens, DA Sampson, J Cermak… – Annals of Forest …, 1999 – afs-journal.org
The effect of soil texture on distribution of pine voles in Pennsylvania orchards by AR Fisher, RG Anthony – American Midland Naturalist, 1980 – JSTOR
Morphologic development and clay redistribution in lysimeter soils under chaparral and pine by RC Graham, HB Wood – Soil Science Society of America …, 1991 – Wiley Online Library
Methods of constructing a pine tree substrate from various wood particle sizes, organic amendments, and sand for desired physical properties and plant … by BE Jackson, RD Wright, MC Barnes – HortScience, 2010 – journals.ashs.org
Soil organisms. The dependence of certain pine species on a biological soil factor by SL Kessell – Empire Forestry Journal, 1927 – JSTOR