Although I split the first batch of one thousand tea seeds in half and I am mass germinating half of them, I’m concerned about the amount of labor, not to mention supplies, needed for that method. As most of you are aware, I am trying to bootstrap the farm into a viable entity over just a few years and with precious little resources.

The mass germination requires teasing the germinated seedlings out of the bins one by one in the spring and transplanting them into larger pots where they will remain for the first year. They are then transplanted outside. It is likely that all of that labor will need to be provided by me and Stephanie.

In contrast, the conetainers are sown and the seedlings remain in them until planting out in the field. In addition, the conetainers only hold 10 cubic inches of soil, so they are quite frugal with media. The downside is the possibility of less growth in the conetainers compared to, for example, one gallon pots. I have also been told by experienced growers that they have had poor success with tea germinating in conetainers, which they think may be due to less control over the media moisture.

But I have also transplanted tea seedlings into poly bags that were about three inches in diameter and about sixteen inches tall. Although they did grow roots to the bottoms of the bags very quickly, the root mass was very small in all of the bags. In addition, transplanting from the bags requires digging deeper holes of about sixteen inches.

So I decided to split the second two batches/varieties of seeds (five hundred each) in half with two hundred and fifty being sown in conetainers and the other two hundred and fifty sown in jiffy forestry peat pellets. This will provide a shallower but wider media for the seedlings. The depth difference is about 5 to 6 inches for the pellets compared to conetainers at about 8 inches. Note that Minto Island Tea in Salem grows their seedlings in five inch conetainers that I have bought and planted out, and they seem to be doing well...

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