TEA IN THE GARDEN
Ah, February, the month were if you’re an avid gardener, like me, the indoor seed sewing and garden planning begins this month. I gather my garden design magazines and books, mosey to the tall window in the stairwell where I can peer down into the garden, and begin to dream. This is always followed by an annual vow to keep on top of weeding this year, in spite of the heavy humid days of July and August. That shall not deter me! For I will have my trusty wide brimmed straw garden hat, to shelter my skin, and endeavor to pluck and pull away with St. Francis and the birds to keep me company.
This year, however, I am finally planning to do something that I have always wanted to do, grow my own tea garden. No, not an herbal tea( infusion) garden; I already have a corner herb garden, but a real container tea garden where I will grow the Camellia Sinensis to have my own organically home grown tea. Granted, in a contained state it would yield very small quantities, but just enough for an occasional treat. Can it be done in a town garden, outside the ideal conditions found in a lush tea plantation? Of course it can! Though, I must consider that my single plant Tea Garden will not winter over here in Zone 6. Therefore, it must be kept in a container which will have to be brought indoors to be nurtured through the cold winter months. Much to my delight, I have been reassured by some tea purveyors and nurseries that it can indeed be done with fairly good results.
In researching what will be required to grow this wonderful plant, I have discovered that this will be not only a challenging experiment, but also an act of exercising great patience on my part. It will require patience because it takes 3 years before the plant will be ready for the tea leaves to be harvested. That will make it challenging because, sadly, patience is not a virtue that I am known to possess. However, this information is not a deterrent, but rather a motivator telling me that I need to try my hand at this. I will also keep a Tea gardening Journal here on this blog to make me accountable to the entire blogosphere for my Tea cultivating adventures.
Facts about growing Camellia Sinensis:
Camellia Sinensis plants are actually trees, which in cultivation are pruned to 2-5 feet. They are evergreen plants with fragrant white flowers appearing in fall making them attractive for ornamental use. The plant likes well-drained and sandy acidic soil. If growing ‘tea’ in a container, add sphagnum moss to the potting mix.