We've started more tea seeds over the last couple of months. We finished starting the remainder of the hundred and sixty odd var. sinensis and the 580 odd var. assamica seeds that we purchased from Camellia Forest. They are all planted into 10-inch cone-tainers. The tea seeds we had planted into poly bags (entry dated Jan 25th) have been transferred into cone-tainers as well.

The poly bags are used to allow the tea plant's taproot to extend more naturally. The ten-inch cone-tainers provide about three-quarters of the depth that the poly bags provide for tap root growth, but use MUCH less soil and take up MUCH less space. Currently, our success with growing tea has to rely on huge volumes of plants that will provide a small number of plants that are hardy enough to survive our climate. That method will take space.

Most of the tea plants in the orchard area are still managing OK after our recent snows. I'm unsure whether the two that lost all of their leaves over winter will manage to come back. I've read that even when severe cold kills the top of the tea plant, it is still possible for it to grow back from the roots. Our weather has not been very cold so the loss of leaves by these two plants may not be due to feezing. And since they were not doing very well at the end of summer it may be too late for them.

We did order an additional four hundred seeds, one hundred each of four varieties, that arrived a couple days ago. We've started soaking them and will plant them out into cone-tainers as well. The seeds originally started in the poly bags (late summer of 2016) are still doing fairly well, but they are also protected in a hoop house and have had occasional heat added through seed mats on particularly cold nights. Their visible roots are down to the bottom of the bags, so they will not be transplanted until we are ready to place them outside.

We bought a few one-year-old tea plants from a local tea plantation last fall (Sept 16th entry). I placed two of the plants into poly bags and put them into the winter box with my other poly bag starts. As could be expected, those two tea plants look the best out of all of those in the bags. Since they are presumably plants that have had many years to acclimate to our climate, I would expect them to fare better in most situations. The half dozen other live plants were placed outside and didn't do particularly well, but most still seem to be alive. However, they were planted in the fall as an experiment instead of being kept in a protected area over winter as would have made sense if concerned about their survival. We do hope to buy more live plants this spring and get some of them planted early enough to winter over with, hopefully, few problems.

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