For rich, healthy soil, one of the best things to add comes right out of your kitchen. Tea grounds can be mixed directly into soil without waiting for the decomposition of a compost heap and has many different minerals and nutrients to offer. For small soil conditioning uses such as a single planter, tea leaves are a quick and easy application that can mean the difference between a plant just barely struggling along and one that is green and vibrant. Tea leaves are a great way to treat soil.
Tea Leaves for Composting
Add tea leaves to your compost to promote faster decomposition. Commercial companies that produce organic fertilizers and compost add tea and coffee grounds for that very reason--to promote decomposition and encourage the bacteria processes that make soil healthier, and keep it that way. At first, you might think that tea leaves would be too acidic for most plants, but the fact is that boiling the tea leaves removes most of the acids, leaving behind highly fertile bit of plant matter. When this material is added to a compost heap, it helps achieve a pH balance of around 6.5, which is considered optimal for a majority of plants.
Carbon to Nitrogen Ratios
Plants require a specific ratio of carbon to nitrogen. If the nitrogen is too high, the soil is more acidic, and if the carbon is too high plants have a more difficult time extracting the other nutrients required for growth. Most experts say that a 25:1 ratio is ideal and that the ratio very nearly matches the ratio provided by tea leaves. Where fertilizers have a tendency to cause root burn, natural alternatives such as tea leaves won't concentrate the chemicals the same way, which means that the roots are safe from harm.
Tea Leaves and Clay
Clay soils benefit from having tea leaves or coffee grounds mixed into it. In addition to the nutritional properties, tea leaves help loosen up clay, bonding with the granules to keep them from clumping tightly together and limiting plant growth. The key is that the clay and tea leaves are mixed together well, so that the clay is broken up and the leaves are distributed throughout the soil. For best results, use the clay and tea leaf mixture 3 to 4 times before planting in the soil.
Tea Leaves and Sand
Basic sand is deficient in most things required by plants. In most parts of the country, sand is little more than grains of silica, or glass. In order for sand to be viable for a potting soil, it must be conditioned by adding the necessary ingredients, and tea leaves are an excellent way to do that. Tea leaves will mix easily into sand, and the difference is immediately visible, as bits of tea leaf can be seen distributed throughout the grains of sand. Tea leaves mixed with sand have another benefit, that being the ability to hold the soil together, preventing moisture from draining straight through the grains of sand.