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Tea Farm Update

Farm update April 16,2019

 shovel in dirt

Well that was quite a weekend at San Juan Island Tea Farm.  Last week nearly 800 bare root tea plants arrived from Big Island Tea, Hawaii. They were perfectly packed and very healthy looking. 

A surprise was the number as just days before we were thinking we would receive 200 this spring and another 600 next spring.  We were prepared and coasting.  Then reality hit as the day prior to shipping we found out that instead of all new seedlings they had an epiphany and dug up a large number of volunteer starts from their extensive gardens.  These were stronger, older and better established roots and we have high hopes for the hardiness of these plants. 

In the prior few weeks we had tilled and laid out enough rows for around 350 plants and so when we discovered the quantity shipped we were scrambling to get all the pots washed (they were recycled from a local landscaper and therefore had dirt left over in them.  Yvonne had appointments off island for two days and had done Hurculean work before she left getting the vast majority of the pots cleaned.  I finished those while she was away and prepared over 500 with a layer of pea gravel and then a partial fill with some local mix of compost and sand.

 Camellia Sinensis

When Yvonne returned we then set to work planting.  This required a finish fill with organic potting soil and then Yvonne would plant the seedling (after drenching the bare root with rooting hormone).  Pots were then transferred to a holding area (shaded) surrounded by deer fencing. 

 Tea seedlings in pots inside deer fencing

Typical of our experience, Saturday was one of the worst weather days in weeks.  It rained, the wind blew and we worked in mud all day (12 hour day I might add).  Sunday was better and we finished after just 8-9 hours of hard work. 

 The end results are some fine looking starts that will live in their pots until mid to late summer when we will transplant them into the rows.  BTW in addition to the tea plants we also added four cherry trees and a Golden Chain tree.  Monday we dug up a massive pampas grass and divided it into a dozen or so plants that will be planted down by the lower garden, with the bamboo.  Once everything settles into a more normal pattern I will start the landscaping of the lower garden, building mounds and plantings in that area.

 Pampas grass

Wish us luck, for a couple of old retied people last weekend was quite a challenge.

Cheers, 

Chief Farmer, Greg

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