Ready, Set, Plant!
It has been two months and two weeks since I have received my tea plants and seeds. The tea seeds have been pulled out of the refrigerator and planted. The tea plants are still alive!
Last month I wrote a lengthy list of things I needed to accomplish regarding my tea plants. My best laid plans came to a grinding halt when various circumstances occurred that were beyond my control. My calendar, and sub zero weather had cleared by the end of the month, and I was able to pick up my to-do list again.
One of the items that was on my to-do list was to buy a greenhouse. I was given a greenhouse by a very generous person, in the middle of February. It is a metal framed greenhouse with green netting, encased in heavy plastic sheeting, comprising the walls and the roof. I set up a planting table, and placed an indoor/outdoor digital thermometer inside the greenhouse. It was still too cold, actually below freezing outside, for me to bring my tea plants into the greenhouse. I checked the temperature inside the greenhouse, and found that it stayed approximately seven to ten degrees warmer in the plastic greenhouse than outside. During the end of February, my city was suffering with below freezing temperatures, for days on end. I decided to conduct an easy experiment to test if the thermometer was generally accurate. I set a plastic glass full of water on the planting table, inside the greenhouse, to observe if the water would freeze. Yes indeed, the water froze!
I waited about a week after my experiment for the temperature to rise and remain above freezing in the greenhouse. I then planted cold weather vegetable seeds in pots and placed them in the greenhouse. This was done to assist in increasing the moisture level naturally in the greenhouse. I have spinach, arugula, cilantro, and dill sprouting, and the humidity level is fairly consistent during the chilly days and cold nights. My hibiscus tree is now inside the greenhouse; moved after wintering in my home. The hibiscus tree is adjusting well to the humidity level and chilly nights in the greenhouse.
I will be ready to place the tea plants in the greenhouse once the weather stays above freezing. To be honest, I am nervous regarding moving the tea plants away from the window. What if the plants don’t thrive in the greenhouse? I don’t think my ego can take a second round of more tea plants not surviving.
Another item that was on my to-do list was to set-up a compost pile. One of my requisites for the compost pile was that it had to be Louie The Dog proof. It had to be someplace where my perpetually hungry hound could not break into, and help himself to a snack! A side note: I have two dogs that are spoiled rotten with love, and toys, but NOT with table scraps. They are instinctual foragers, and will eat anything they find or catch in the yard, and anything that drops on the kitchen floor that I don’t pick up fast enough.
I digressed; back to ruminating about a composite pile. I decided to start a kitchen countertop compost pile. I researched what to put in the compost pile. A successful compost pile needs to include green and brown items (peels, leaves, grass clippings). I chose to start my compost pile with brown leaves, green strawberry leaves, used tea leaves, dirt, and a small amount of water. Luck was not on my side; the compost molded. I think I added too much water and not enough air holes in the counter top container, because the mold started forming very rapidly. Out with that batch of compost and back to the starting block.
I bought an above ground compost bin that can spin, for optimal mixing of compost. Best of all…… it is Louie The Dog proof! The compost bin is on legs, stands about a foot above ground, and has a latch on the bin door. My scrounging schnauzer will not be able to eat from this compost bin. The new compost matter includes grass clippings, dried leaves, green vegetable peels and used tea leaves.
The final task on my to-do list was to increase the acidity level in potting soil, in order for the tea plant seeds to be planted. I put quick draining soil, potting soil, peat moss, and wood chips in a big planter. I mixed the combination together, and then let the soil sit for several weeks. The combination of the peat moss and wood chips created an acidic blend of soil that was ideal for planting the seeds in.
Tea Plants And Tea Seeds
I repotted the tea plants into bigger pots so that they did not become root bound. I used an additional amount of the acidic soil combination that I had previously mixed together. The plants were watered, and then placed right back in the southeast facing window. They have flourished in that window, and have grown taller. In fact, the tall tea plant had a second round of flower buds that I had to remove off the plant.
The seeds were taken out of the refrigerator and planted in peat soil pellets. The peat soil pellets had to be soaked in water for approximately an hour, before one seed was placed inside the expanded peat pellet. After which, the peat pellets were placed in a large pot that contained the acidic soil mixture.
The tea seeds should take one to two months to sprout, or germinate. The roots are considered established when three to four leaves are produced. I planted twenty tea plant seeds, and I am hoping that there will be twenty new tea plant sprouts.
The hard part begins; waiting for germination. Waiting approximately two months to see if germination occurs will be difficult for me. Meanwhile, I think I will have a cup of tea.
About the Author
Leslie Sundberg is a World Tea Academy Certified Tea Specialist, a World Tea Academy Apprentice Tea Sommelier, a Specialty Tea Institute Level IV trained Tea Specialist, and a Tea and Business Etiquette Specialist. On any given day, Leslie can be found teaching, speaking or sharing in the joys of a cup of tea. No matter what Leslie is doing or where she is, one thing remains constant: 4:00 in the afternoon is tea time!