Tea To Make Your Garden Grow


Photo from organicgardening.about.com

If you’re a daily tea drinker like Kat, you’ll have thought about the amount of tea you go through on a regular basis. But what to do with it? How do we reduce – re-use – recycle our tea?

“Composting,” is the most logical answer that usually comes to mind, but while the language makes it sounds so common, the truth is that most people have no idea how to do it.

I feel that Char was, in some ways, ahead of her time. She made the acquaintance of Sir Albert Howard, toward the end of hisĀ 30 years in India experimenting with organic farming. Char quite enjoyed how he referred to the weeds and pests in the field as his “Professors of Agriculture,” and Nature itself as “The Supreme Farmer.” Charming man! His research led to his belief that the ideal compost contained three times as much plant materials as manure placed in layers and then mixed regularly during decomposition.

Well, tea is a plant material, is it not? So let’s start with the basics.

Q. Can I use tea in compost? If so, what kinds?

A. Yes, tea is a wonderful source of nitrogen (which certain green leafy plants, like lettuce, brussels sprouts and azaleas particularly love!), and is a lovely component of compost. While teas with added sugar should be avoided (we don’t want to attract unwanted varmints!), blends or single estate teas can be used. Loose leaf teas are ideal, but bagged teas can be used as well. Cut open the tea bag and use the contents. Remove nylon or “silk” tea bags, as these may not decompose thoroughly.

Q. Can I use the tea leaves alone, or do they need to blend in with other elements?

A. Ideally, tea leaves should be mixed with more carbon elements, such as dry leaves, grass clippings or paper. Applying tea leaves directly to the soil around a plant can “burn” the plant. Although… there are a few sources who claim that tea leaves can be scattered around the base of roses and tomatoes and do just fine. We’ll have to do some experimenting! (Make your own small kitchen-sized compost bin HERE). Most composting experts recommend a rule of thumb of using 2-3 times as many carbon elements as the nitrogen elements, based on Sir Howard’s research.

Every resource is so precious, why not use each cup of tea to bring new life to the nature surrounding you?

Have you tried composting? What worked best for you?

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