sammus
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Do plants like a good cup of tea as much as we do!?

I'm endeavouring to grow some apple seedlings and have noticed a slight red / brown tinge on the edge of one leaf on a few of the plants. I'm thinking that it may have something to do with a nutrient deficiency - perhaps phosphate.

On trawling through the internet I read that putting the used tea leaves from a tea bag into the soil can work wonders on your plant, and have then stumbled across the potential of watering your plants with (cold) tea dregs.

Can you do this (and what effect would it have)? Would it provide phosphate quicker than adding the tea leaves to the soil? Is this just a load of rubbish?!

Many thanks for your replies.

Sam

JONA878
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Hi Sammus.

Re your seedlings.
With the very cold winds we have been having recently I should not be too worried about your seedlings.
Apple leaves that are still young and tender are prone to take on a tinge of colour when the weather gets as cold as this.
What could help them is a light folier feed of either liquid seaweed or Urea.
Both would give the leaf a boost to overcome the chill.
When useing foliers though don't over-concentrate the mixture and never use in strong sunlight as it could cause scorch.

Not that we are in for any strong sunlight in the near future anyway !!!

As regards deficiancies.
It is rare for trees to suffer much from phosphorus deficiancy as their requirements are very low. A dressing every three years or so is usually more than enough.

It is essential that apples trees do have a good supply of the Potash fertiliser but the balance must not too excessive.
A light regular dressing is in general all that is needed.
Allowing grass to grow right up to the trunk of trees is the best way of making sure that there is a good supply of potassium in the soil. Too much Potassic fertiliser in the soil can result in magnesium being locked up and the tree unable to get at it.

Magnesium itself can be replaced by sprays of Epsom Salts....Mag Sulphate....
On the soil with Kieserite dressings.


As to the tea-leaves. I can remember as a boy we used to save all the pots dregs for the plants.
It's said to contain potash and have anti fungal activity too.

Jona

sammus
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Hi Jona878,

Thanks very much for your comprehensive reply!

I was surprised to notice the tinge on one or two of the leaves, and my housemate diagnosed it as being a phosphate deficiency; though with them plants only being about a month old and in a brand new soil when I planted them, I couldn't fathom how this would be the case.

What exactly does the change in colour mean? I assume I shouldn't worry particularly about it and just keep an eye on it. If it were to progress, should I begin to keep them indoors abit more out of the wind?

I've heard about weeing on your plants to give them a urea, but was wondering how often this should be done / should you water them with the amount that you normally would so that they don't accumulate a smell? ha!

On some further reading, it appears that the caffine (though there may not be as much in tea as in coffee) can even speed up growth of the apple seedlings so I may give it ago along with some wee!

Below is a link to the pictures of the plant for further information if you are interested:
https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=24384

Regards,

Sam

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applestar
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I use cold dregs and "one more cold water full in the teapot" water as well as "one more cold water full in the French-press type coffee pot" water to water my indoor plants. I pour the coffee grounds right on top of the soil. However, I put the tea leaves in the compost -- either the outdoor compost pile or the indoor vermicompost.

The ones that receive these the most are the plants in the Kitchen window (of course) -- overwintered tomato and sweet pepper plants, Jalapeno hot pepper plant, Citrus seedlings, apple seedlings, and scented geraniums. The cherry tomato has fruited several times, and the sweet peppers also. The Jalapeno has been fruiting non-stop since December and the same container is also home to 3 apple seedlings that have over-taken the 12" Jalapeno plant and the tallest is now standing 22" tall (They have approx. 1/2"~1" internodes, so I don't think they're overly leggy either.) Only other "fertilizer" they receive is provided by the resident "(at least) one (earth)worm in every pot." :wink:

JONA878
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One thing Sammus.

Urea and Urine. Their not the same thing.
Urine contains Urea but also many other things.
So don't go for a quiet tiddle over the plants please.!!


Jona.

sammus
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Location: England

Ah ok so I how would I get urea then without having a wee? I've heard stories about people that wee on the plants to help them out. I've got some tea dregs too so going to add them with some water - maybe do it 1/3 tea to 2/3 water so its not too concentrated to begin with?

So if I were to water the plants with this tea / water combo once a week perhaps so the soil doesn't turn acidic, should this benefit the plants?

Another point I was wondering, is how often should I now be watering the seedlings? Just let the soil dry out or keep to watering them abit each evening (I've been avoiding watering them in the day as I've heard water on the leaves can do some damage to them).

Applestar, your apple seedlings sound very impressive! Do you have any tips on how to get them going strong? How old are they as well? Mine are standing at between 4 - 5inchs after around a month of growth. - Wondering if this is good / average / poor?

JONA878
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I think a weekly dose of weak tea would be fine for them Sammus.
As to watering. just keep the soil damp but don't over water as this is more harmful.
Water on the leaves is ok unless there is strong sunlight, then it can in theory cause scorching, although I've never found it so unless it has contained added salts or chemicals.
Where wet leaves are a problem is when there is a scab infection source nearby.
Water plus warmth can aid the spores of scab to infect leaf and fruit tissue.
It's the reason apple and pear trees are pruned to allow plenty of air movement in the tree so that the trees dry out as quickly as possable after rain in the summer months.

JONA878
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Sorry....should have added that you can buy Urea in a crystal form that dissolves easily for folier feeding.

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