The tea bushes are planted!
Over the past few days, the team has planted 550 tea bushes, 400 two-year-olds and 150 one-year-olds, on two different plots. At the same time, another 250 one-year-old tea bushes will spend the summer in the greenhouse before being planted in the autumn, while 32 larger tea bushes will be planted at the end of May near the market garden, all of which are intended to reproduce seed for acclimatisation. The good news is that the tea bushes are enjoying themselves in these early days, with many buds already poking their heads out!
A bit of botany
Camelia sinensis likes acidic, well-drained soil. They are not afraid of the cold and are resistant to the heat, like water as long as it does not stagnate and for good reason, they hate having their feet in water! This is why we have installed a drip watering system.
However, it should be noted that the ecotype we chose comes from the mountainous regions of Turkey (see this article) and is naturally resistant to more "drastic" conditions: heavy frosts, sunshine and a wide range of day/night temperatures in summer...
After working the soil with an organic root stimulator before planting, we planned to put mounds of softwood shavings at the foot of the shrubs in order to bring some acidity to the soil, to protect it against drought and to allow the exchange of nutrients.
We planted them in staggered rows so that they would protect each other, and each one would have only one side exposed to wind and weather.
Acclimatising tea plants in the Loire
Our objective is to reproduce the tea bush seeds ourselves in order to obtain seeds adapted to the soil (rather clayey) and the climate of the Loire. These are, in fact, the first tea plants planted in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region: there is therefore a lot of acclimatisation and reproduction work to be done over several years.
We chose to plant two sizes (1 year and 2 years) and to use two different plots in order to see how our ecotype behaves on different soils and at different stages of growth.
For example, we planted one part on a well-drained, gently sloping plot (which used to be an organic vegetable garden) and another on a plot (a former pasture) on slopes in the manner of vines.
The larger ones (3 and 4 years old) will be used to reproduce seeds with a view to planting at least 10 000 plants in the medium term. The first harvests are planned for 2023.
To complete the ecosystem, we have planted fruit trees (cherry, apple) in the middle of the rows, to which will be added rosebushes and lavender, while thirty-year-old trees (ash, oak, elder) are already flourishing in the south of our plot. Four beehives also border these two plots.
Both in the ground and in the greenhouse, our tea trees are doing well at the moment and have all come out full of buds: