Friday, 26 June 2015

Two for tea

Camellia sinensis sinensis
Our two Scottish-grown tea plants have found a new home in the 'glen'. We totally changed our mind about their siting after reading the planting instructions: They want partial shade, good drainage and good shelter from the wind. They're not fussy about soil type. But the shade is important, otherwise their leaves might scorch. Apparently a place in a forest garden border is ideal - so now ours are partially shaded by a big beech on the other side of the burn. And we've put up extra windbreak fabric on two sides of them to keep them nice and sheltered. All that's left to do is a good mulch and then we hope to watch them grow quickly.

To harvest, you pluck the top two leaves and bud on each shoot every seven to ten days. Eventually, the plants are meant to form a metre-high flat tabletop for easy picking. Used straight, it'll be a green tea. To make black tea requires a bit of processing: rolling the leaves to bring out the oils, then drying and a slight roasting. Looking forward to getting to that stage!

It does feel a lot more summery these days, but note the angle of our bean poles:

Veg garden - front half

Veg garden - middle
The squashes are still looking poorly, for the most part, but the brassicas are doing well as are, at least so far, the fennels.

 The potatoes are growing steadily but no flowers yet - wish I could say the same for the onions!

Back end of the veg garden
 The harvest season has begun. Here's my first platter of the season:

Beetroot, garlic, artichokes and onion
We've been having 2-4 artichokes per week each - it feels almost decadent.

I've cleared out some more aphid-prone peppers and aubergines from the conservatory, which is now given over almost exclusively to tomatoes, cucumbers, melons and basil (which will not grow outside here, even last year in our super summer). Below is the second of our lemon cucumbers, a very tasty little variety:

Lemon cucumber
Until our green tea is ready, I'll stick with my old herbal favourites: mints, lemon balm, lemon verbena, rose petals, sage and nettle. In fact, it's time for a cup of the ultimate snooze tea now: catnip, spearmint and lavender.


  1. How many years do you count before being able to enjoy your own tea on a regular basis?

    1. I'm not sure. Not counting on harvesting any this year and only a little next year. Maybe year 3? Will be interesting to see how much the tea plants grow this season.