This is what is bugging me now. This area of about 11,000 plants is nine years old and never tasted chemical fertilizer. I have always fertilized with a good bank of decaying oak leaves. As the farm has gotten larger that has become more of a challenge. A horticulturist told me my plants looked nutritionally deficient so for the first time in eleven years I put a couple bags of 8-8-8 over my largest tea area. It was a light sprinkle, almost none compared to local farm fields.
The result is a explosion of weeds across the entire field. The big rag weeds, horsetail, Johnson grass and pepper vine are easy to pick around but I can not keep grass pieces out of the picked tea leaves. It blends in and is hard to pick out. It slows me down so that I have started to skip over the grass choked plants and am not getting the tea there. I also do not see a greater yield from the tea. I am about the same place pound wise now as I was at this time last year. I am wondering if it is worth it.
I have been a rather “purist” since college and use only a little fertilizer on my other gardens and crops, like satsumas. I think it is poisonous to the ground water tables but know my speck of pollution is negligible. One gardener suggested I use Round-Up on the grass early but this is one chemical used to off set what another chemical is causing. I am going to have to revisit my “purist” ideas and reconsider if I am going to use chemical fertilizers next year.
We bagged up 14 pounds of black this morning. I call it “July Black Bud” even though it was produced the first days of August. The new growth at this time of the year hardens early, leaves are smaller and they curl a bit. In the heat they produce a heavy waxy coat on the leaves. I have always thought this was my best tea. We have finished around 170 pounds of tea this year. Green and black. Never made any Oolong this year…don’t know why not?
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