Saturday, April 3, 2010

Weeds and Buds

On April 1st, my daughter and I went outside to tour the South Seattle Tea Estate (which is located in our backyard). Last May, the tea estate contained only one tea plant, but thanks to my good friend David W. the number of tea plants has doubled!

An aerial shot of the tea estate taken from the back deck.
(The two tea plants are hiding behind the rosemary.)

A close-up of my two tea plants surrounded by weeds.

I'm not sure what caused it, but during the winter, some of the lower leaves had developed a sort of rot or fungus so I had to pick off a bunch of bad leaves.


It was very satisfying to pull out a few of the dandelions that had taken over the garden during the winter.

Die You Vile Weed!

I was very encouraged to see some lovely new leaf and bud sets starting to develop as well as many healthy-looking leaves.


Double Yum!

Triple Yum!

In a few weeks I will harvest some of these pretty leaf and bud sets and attempt to make an oolong tea! Stay tuned for a more detailed post about that caper (because I may even host a casual tasting of my finished tea). In the meantime feel free to click here if you would like to read a review of the "Seattle White Peony" tea that I made last spring.


Marlena said...

Ooh, you can grow both rosemary and tea OUTSIDE. OOOH green with envy! Are you going to do tea this year? Are yours CScinensis or CSassamica? I read the latter cannot go below 50 degrees - here it would be outside for about 15 days.

Brett said...

Hi Marlena, Thanks for the comment! Yes, I'll make tea again this year and chronicle the experience. I'm not too sure if they are Camellia sinensis or assamica... but I'm guessing sinensis.

Rosemary seems to do really well here in Seattle... Tea on the other hand takes a little more care. I'm no green thumb and I may not be up to the task of keeping them healthy. I hope my luck will hold and these two plants will thrive!

Alex Zorach said...

It's uncanny how much the one photo looks like the view out the bedroom window of the room I grew up in. At first glance I was like--"What is this guy doing posting a picture of my parent's back yard?"

Are there any "weeds" that grow interspersed between tea plants in such a way that benefits the tea plants? I generally try to avoid pulling out any plant that's growing underneath a plant I'm trying to grow, and then I trim back weeds only when they start to shade out plants. There are a few exceptions--non-native weeds, and anything I know to be a host to pests or diseases that affect what I'm trying to grow.

In early years I've found this can lead to slower growth of what you're trying to grow, but in the long run, I think it holds more nutrients in the soil and leads to a healthier ecosystem overall--with benefits that include reducing problems with all sorts of pests (because there's now a more diverse predator population). Also, if you can get legumes to grow together with nitrogen-needy plants, that pairing works very well! I've read that tea needs a lot of nitrogen once you start harvesting it, so it's something to think about.

Mrs. Wright said...

Hi Brett...I enjoyed visiting your tea estate...I grew up in West Seattle and ran several tea rooms in South Seattle, Tacoma and W.S. (Victorian/English style). I started the Wellington Tea Room in Columbia City in 1990 and had visiting Tea Masters hold private tastings for our Embassy Members. Thanks for the education and love of all things tea! Beautiful family also.

Brett said...

Great points Alex! Thanks! We do keep our yard pretty natural and wild. Things tend to grow really well up here in Western Washington and that means lots of weeds, grasses, ivy, and brambles. I have a stone "Zen garden" to maintain as well as some stone paths and mowing but I don't have much time for yard work especially during the cold wet winters. I try to go out and pull a few dandelions, and hack out some brambles from time to time.

In our two vegetable gardens we do put in new homemade compost during planting time, and use a nitrogen fixing cover crop over the winter. My tea plants are in the herb and blueberry garden and I tend to just leave them alone most of the time.

Hi Mrs Wright! Wow that is awesome. Got to love the 98118 (America's most diverse zip code)! Email me if you're ever in the area and we can meet for tea!