What happens when you add pine shavings and cow manure to soil?

I added pine shavings and cow manure to my garden to loosen the soil and despite all my plants germinating, their growth is extremely stunted and it appears that I will not yield any vegetables. Would adding the shavings make the soil to acidic?



  1. 0 Votes

    The answer to this question depends largely on the quantities of manure and wood shavings you mixed into your soil, and the time they were allowed to decompose before planting. You are correct to try to add both carbon (wood) and nitrogen (manure), but finding the right balance for your plants is no easy task (see first link below).

    Adding manure to the soil will give it a huge injection of nitrogen, especially if the animals were grass-fed. If this manure was not given some weeks to decompose and lose some of its nitrogen punch, then it is possible that your plants are getting far too much of what is otherwise a good thing.

    But you also mixed in pine shavings, which was a big injection of carbon as well. However, these wood shavings are going to take a long time to decompose. (For this reason, most people use them as mulch rather than soil amendment). The decomposition of this carbon should absorb lots of the nitrogen added to the soil from the manure, though the effect would be slow, and, unless a huge quantity of wood were added, should not be so transformative as to soak up all the excess nitrogen.

    If your plants germinated but appear weak, and have too many leaves and not enough flowers or fruit, you can bet that there was an excess of nitrogen in the soil. See second link below for more information.

    And lastly, coniferous trees, in their raw state, are not acidic. Adding their wood shavings – or even their needles – to your soil will not alter the soil’s pH. Click here to read about this common misconception.

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