Rooibos in the garden

2016-04-27 06:00

ROOIBOS is a fantastic natural fertiliser to use in the garden as it contains nutrients and trace minerals good to plant growth, states Margaret Roberts, a prominent figure in the world of natural health and gardening.

“Instead of throwing away used rooibos­ tea leaves or bags, use them with other vegetable and fruit peelings to make a balanced compost mix.”
Her herbal garden, considered one of the country’s top 10 gardens, is committed to organic farming with rooibos tea being among the critical compostable materials used.

Rooibos tea leaves also enrich the soil by increasing the nitrogen level and give earthworms something to munch on.

Tanya Visser, gardening TV personality and editor of The Gardener-Die Tuinier magazine and associated editor on the Grow to Eat magazine, feeds used rooibos tea bags to the worms in her worm farm.
“You can also use tea bags for mulching your garden. So I actually buy the rooibos tea mulch for my garden,” says Visser.
“I love the courser grain of it, the smell and feel of it is wonderful too and it keeps the goggas away from my plants.”

Most gardeners prefer rooibos mulch to bark mulch, as it’s gentle on the hands (you don’t even need to wear gloves) and since it’s easier to control the flow as it pours beautifully. After watering a few times, rooibos mulch forms a crusty layer on the soil. This layer reduces water loss through evaporation, is ideal for reducing stress on young transplants and contributes to considerable water saving in gardens and pot plants. It’s also ideal for fertilizing vegetable planters and looks beautiful between pavers and dainty flowers.

Another of SA’s favourite gardeners, JJ van Rensburg is an equally big fan of rooibos.

“One of the best-kept secrets is to break open steeped tea bags and to sprinkle the tea leaves around the plants to deter snails and other unwanted pests – it’s a very effective biological pest deterrent,” says Van Rensburg.

He says that contrary to the belief that all tea makes the soil acidic, rooibos doesn’t. The efficient microbes in the soil (the good bugs) actually thrive on rooibos tea leaves.The tea also reduces the germination of weeds through the formation of an insulating layer above the soil, thus facilitating cleaner seed beds and pot plants. Rooibos is also low in tannins and is beneficial to both plant and root development. Mixed with potting soil, it provides an excellent growing medium.

Try these DIY rooibos gardening tricks, prepared by the Rooibos Council:

• Use rooibos tea bags for cleaning the leaves of household plants. Since plants absorb the tea through their leaves, they get a real treat.

• Steep used tea bags in room-temperature water until it slightly changes colour and then pour the liquid over the plants. This provides them with extra nourishment.

• When potting a new plant, use rooibos tea leaves or teabags (dried or steeped) in the drainage layer at the bottom of the pot. Since tea is highly absorbent, it will retain water, that will then get released slowly back to the plant.

• Feed plants by scattering steeped tea leaves into the top layer of soil around the plant. - All4Women.

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