Pass Me a Cup of Tea Please

Reader Contribution by Amanda Stoffels
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I have always enjoyed a hot cup of tea on a cold winter night, but I have never been good about composting or reusing the tea bags. While randomly looking through Pinterest the other day I came across a great idea on reusing old tea bags to grow seedlings. I got the idea from this kids’ magazine, KCC.  

After reading the information page, I was very excited. I didn’t have any tea bags right then but I sure know how to make some. Out came the tea bags to make iced tea. I haven’t always been good about keeping iced tea around so my husband isn’t complaining about this new project that gets him fresh iced tea on a consistent basis.  

Once I had the tea bags, I needed a tray to put them in that would hold some water so that the tea bags and seeds would stay moist. I found an old ice chest lid outside that had been saved for such a day as this. I put a thick layer of paper towels down and poured water on it so that they were pretty wet.  

I then laid the tea bags out in rows. I didn’t have 21 tea bags as the website called for so I just used all that I had. Most of them are typical black tea while a few are green tea levels or herbal teas.

We then cut slits in each bag and placed the seed in the tea bag.  

I used last year seeds thinking that if this didn’t work I wasn’t out any good seeds while also thinking if it did work with old seeds how much better could it work with fresh seeds. 

Four days later we have some starting to poke out. I do not have a seedling light source inside so I will need to transplant these little ones as soon as they hit 2 centimeters tall.  

The information page stated that the tea bags will rot away, not hindering the roots of the new plant, and the tea leaves are direct fertilizer for the baby plant as well!  

I liked doing this project for multiple reasons. 

– I don’t have the set-up to plant seedlings in my home, and I don’t have the space for seedling trays. All of our windows are on the north or south sides of the house so there are no windows that get direct sunlight for any length of time.

– I like the idea of starting a seed inside where you have a little more control of the environment and may get a 5 to 10 day start on the planting time, especially with the crazy weather we are having in Texas this winter. (Check it out in my last post, Texas Ups and Downs.)

– It’s also a wonderful way to get your kids involved in planting and excited about growing their own food! My kids have earned the Plant Police badge as I hear an update on how many millimeters the seedling grew every time they pass the plants.

I have had difficulties when using the tea bags, though.

– The plants sprouts are very fragile at this stage of only a few days old so I accidentally broke a few while planting.

– I rinsed the tea bags in cold water after making tea. The temperature of the tea bags was very cold, which seemed to prolong if not prevent the germination of the zucchini seeds.

– My lettuce seedlings look exactly like the day I planted them, so I’m not sure if they will make.

Overall, I will do this throughout the spring to see what plant seeds do the best with this method. If I only get two plants, I will call it a success. 

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