Gardening this weekend? You might want get your tea leaves involved. Not only do they make a great tasting cuppa (hello, Just Peachy!), they also work wonders for your garden soil since they’re packed with plant-happy benefits. Best of all, repurposing your steeped tea leaves and teabags is a quick and easy way to give back to the environment.
To take your green thumb to the next level, we turned to our knowledgeable Tea Apprentice, Celia. Not only is she super passionate about tea, she’s also obsessed with plants and has a background in horticulture. From the benefits of recycling your tea leaves to how to make your own compost tea at home, she’s sharing her insider tricks on gardening with tea. Bonus: she’s also got some tips for keeping your garden extra lush.
Use your steeped tea leaves for gardening
Guess what? According to Celia, you can throw ALL your steeped tea leaves in the garden – from your go-to traditional loose leafs to your fave fruity blends. In the wild, plants drop their leaves and continually recycle nutrients back into the soil below them, so any nutrients they use up eventually get replaced. A lot of us have the habit of removing plant material from our garden beds, which removes a ton of nutrients.
The nice thing about gardening with tea leaves rather than other leaves is that they’re small and already somewhat broken down. That means they decompose faster and aren’t as noticeable in your garden. Finished steeping your Earl Grey or Japanese Sencha? Take the wet tea leaves to your vegetable patch or flower bed and just sprinkle them over the soil. Sipping a sweet or fruity tea? If you’re worried about attracting wildlife or insects, Celia recommends adding flavoured blends directly to your compost bin and covering it with a lid until the leaves have disintegrated.
Green thumb alert: To give your garden an extra boost of feel-good nutrients, jump to our step-by-step guide on how to make the perfect compost tea.
Benefits of repurposing your steeped tea leaves
There are many benefits to repurposing your steeped leaves. Not only do they add nitrogen to the soil, balancing any carbon-rich materials that might already be in there, they also add to soil structure and improve drainage. What’s more, recycling old tea leaves is a great way to give back to the environment.
Happy soil, happy plants, happy planet!
Celia’s top 5 gardening tips
- Practice companion planting
Instead of having a designated herb garden, try companion planting by co-bedding your fave aromatic herbs with other plants and vegetables. Many herbs have companionship benefits. Basil keeps flies and mosquitoes at bay and does well beside tomatoes and other fly-prone plants; growing mint beside your cabbage, broccoli or kale will help ward off cabbage moths.
- Transplant potted plants like a pro
When transplanting potted flowers or trees into your garden, remove the plant and break the roots apart by tickling – a process that helps separate the circling root pattern to encourage more natural rooting – or cutting them into four parts (known as butterflying).
“This helps the plant realize there are new directions for the roots to explore, which keeps them from thinking they’re redistricted to the size of the pot,” says Celia.
- Give your trees some mulch love
The best thing you can do for your trees is to give them a ring of mulch around the base. This suppresses weeds, provides protection against mower damage, prevents soil compaction, and helps retain moisture. Plus it’s easy on the eyes. The one thing she wants you to avoid? Piling the mulch directly against the tree bark, since this will cause the bark to rot. To make sure your tiny giant stays healthy, a light layer of mulch around the base is all you need.
- Use edible plants ornamentally
Kale comes in gorgeous shades of purple and green and looks great in an ornamental garden. You can harvest and eat the exterior leaves through the summer and fall while keeping your leafy veggie looking fresh and beautiful.
“Instead of using ornamental climbers like clematis, try growing scarlet runner beans instead,” suggests Celia. “The flowers are large and bright red – plus the beans are super tasty!”
- Try some radical gardening
Sick of staring at a patchy lawn? Radical gardening might be for you. If you want to make a positive environmental impact, consider redoing your yard with clover. It doesn’t require mowing, and quickly grows lush and full with much less water than your average H20 guzzling grass species.
And since clover is part of the pea family, it constantly filters nitrogen back into your soil, meaning you don’t have to fertilize. The best part? Clover plants also produce great pollinator-friendly flowers, so you can do some good for your local bumblebees at the same time.
Top 5 teas to drink while gardening
Packed with electrolytes, this caffeine-free red tea is great for keeping you hydrated as you garden under the sun.
Did you know that every single plant in this caffeine-free herbal infusion can be grown in most North American gardens? Get inspired to revamp your garden while staying zen with this low-key lavender tea.
This silky bold tea complements the wet earthy scents you find in the garden. It really gets us in the mood to throw some rich leaf mulch on the perennials.
Nettle is known as a natural antihistamine, so if you suffer from hay fever or seasonal allergies, a big cup of The Glow might just give you the extra boost you need.
Just kidding! This isn’t for you – it’s for your plants. If you compost but don’t like to throw it directly onto your garden beds, a good way to share the nutrients without adding more soil is to make a compost tea.
How to make a compost tea
3 cups of finished compost
2 tbsp blackstrap molasses
15 L rain-barrel water*
Time: 2-3 days
Soak your compost with blackstrap molasses in rain-barrel water for 2-3 days, stirring regularly.
Pour the infusion over your garden and watch your plants thrive!
*You can use any water as long as it’s chlorine-free.
Know of any other gardening hacks that we missed? Share your faves in the comments below!