India’s obsession with tea has been written about countless times. From saplings being grown in plantations in Assam in 1824 to the ubiquitous roadside tea stall seen everywhere today, tea has become a large part of our identities. But, there is much more to tea than just taste and nostalgia. Packed with nutrients, it is a potent DIY organic fertilizer.
Explaining its benefits, urban gardening expert Shabnam Singh says, “Tea is one of the most accessible items you can find in any household. It is both cost-friendly, organic and hassle-free to make, while also being rich in important nutrients. That is why it makes for the best fertilizer for plants, especially those that are flowering plants.”
Shabnam runs a Delhi-based design and landscaping company, Project Co. along with her daughter, Nanki. Begun in 2016, Project Co. works on interior and exterior design with a substantial focus on landscaping.
“We believe that in design both the interiors as well as the exteriors, especially the garden plays a very important role. And, through our work we try to incorporate as much green as possible both indoors and outdoors,” says Nanki.
Unlike others in the sector, Project Co. emphasises the importance of landscaping, and how the incorporation of greens both indoors and outdoors elevates a space. Be it a tea kettle, a discarded mug, or an old gramophone, Shabnam uses quirky ideas to liven up the dullest of corners with some sprinkle of green and colour.
In all this work, Shabnam says her knowledge about potting soil mixes and fertilization of ornamental plants is what helps her client enjoy and maintain their green spaces without much hassle. And, this is where the DIY tea fertilizer comes in.
From a ‘Kadak’ Sip of Tea to a Lush Garden
An urban gardener herself, Shabnam with Nanki’s help has set up many gardens across Delhi so far, including the one at their home, and her DIY fertilizer has helped throughout the process. According to several reports, dried tea leaves contain 4.4% nitrogen, 0.24% phosphorus and 0.25% potassium, making it an organic source of NPK fertilizer, known for helping plants grow.
“Tea leaves are high in tannic acid and many other valuable nutrients that make it more fertile. It also helps increase oxygenation and facilitates the growth of a stronger root system,” she adds. This fertilizer is especially effective for fruit-bearing plants, herbs, and flowering plants.
She shares a simple and quick way of preparing the magic organic fertilizer:
- Use boiled tea grounds or the leftover waste tea residue.
- Strain and thoroughly rinse the tea grounds to remove any milk or sugar particles. One can also use tea leaves from tea bags.
- Lay them on a newspaper or tissue paper to dry. Make sure all the moisture escapes from the tea grounds.
- You can either use it directly or store in a container for future use.
“All one needs to do is dig up some two inches, the surrounding surface of soil near the plant and sprinkle the dry tea fertilizer directly on the soil and mix,” shares Nanki. Shabnam adds that combining this fertilizer with the powdered dry egg-shells makes it more effective.
Now’s the time to take a sip of your tea and get started on your very own green paradise.
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(Edited By Gayatri Mishra)