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How to plant tea seeds in Belgium

Sprouting from tea seeds

As we offer tea seeds randomly,
this guide might be helpful to let your tea plant dream come true,
as it tells you how to survive in cold winter not just in Belgium.

Two kinds of tea seeds:
One from drinkable tea, that is Camellia Sinensis, this is the one we will talk;
One is Oil tea, latin name is Camellia Oleifera Abel, it’s for extracting oil.

Part 1: Grow tea seeds

From flowering to fruiting, it takes about 15 months. You can plant the tea seeds in winter (valid for warm area only like the South) or in spring. The time for winter planting normally is early November to middle December, do ensure seeding emergence and lignification before the arrival of cold air below 10°C/50°F. Winter sowing is recommended, it has higher gemination rate.

  1. Preparing tea plant seeds
    Let the seeds soak in water for 1~2 days, remove floating ones, soak the rest in rooting agent (concentration of 0.01% ~ 0.02% Naphthylacetic acid or IAA, IBA) for 5-6 days.
  2. Preparing raising medium
    The ideal medium for geminating tea seeds should have good drainage and excellent moisture-holding capabilities, you can use vermiculite.
  3. Sowing
    Poke 1-inch-deep hole and drop one seed then cover up.
  4. Controlling the seeding weather
    Avoiding any direct sunlight but keep it warm between 60°F ~ 70°F, ensure the medium is moist but not wet.
    Gemination normally takes about 20 days.
  5. Moving seedlings to somewhere that have indirect sunlight till 1 foot tall.
  6. Transferring it to your garden.

Notes: Winter sowing doesn’t need seeds preparation that described in Step 1

Part 2: Survive in winter

Gemination is not so difficult, how to survive in cold time is, especially in the North. Some tea varieties do have higher survival rate, according to the experience from Ri Zhao where locates in the north of Beijing, the following varietals are the winners.

  • Fuding Da Bai 福鼎大白
  • Long Jing 43 龙井43
  • Huang Shan Chu Ye Qun Ti Zhong 黄山褚叶群体种
  • Jiu Keng 鸠坑
  • Zhong Cha 108 中茶108
  • Zhong Cha 302 中茶302

All above varietals are imported, in 2012 under the leading of Dr. Ding Zhao Tang from Ri Zhao Tea Science Research Center, two new cold-resistant varietals were invented, they are:

  • Lu Cha Yi Hao 鲁茶1号
  • Lu Cha Er Hao 鲁茶2号

Winter Freezing

Once you get the right seeds, all left is learning and hard working, the following tips can make your winter time easier.

  1. Watering in time:
    Tea plants get damaged by not only low temperature but also drought, with water’s help, the temperature of soil can be stabilized because water has high thermal capacity. Regarding watering, it’s advised to infiltrate about 30cm deep. And must do it before freezing.
  2. Littering straws or plastic film:
    Also do it before freezing, it would be better do a loose-soil in advance, the suitable thickness of mulching is 10~15cm.
  3. Covering tea plants with straws or shading net:
    This can not only prevent frost and cold wind, reduce water evaporation but also reduce the temperature difference between day and night. The timing for covering is after soil-freezing and it’s not 100% covering, gotta to leave 30%~40% leaves that can accept direct sunlight.
  4. Lifting windbreak:
    The best material is straws, secondly plastic film, life them in the north of tea plants and the windbreak should be 10cm higher than the plants.
  5. Protective arch shed:
    The best protection from cold for young bushes is building arch shed, also pay attention to the temperature in spring in case sprouting too early that get hurts. This is also a good move for pickable tea garden. To build it, firstly choose the leeward and sunny side to build the main stable shed. Secondly fertilizer and water it well in advance. Third, prevent sprouting in early winter. Fourth, appropriate temperature, humidity and ventilation. Fifth, tea plants should not be too tall, make pruning before applying the shed.
  6. Earth up for overwintering:
    The practices have showed earthing up is secure and low cost for one year old plants. Firstly do pruning till 17 ~ 20cm tall at about one month before snowing, then earthing up two times once snowing begin, the first time gotta earth up to half height of plants, the second time will almost full cover the plants except the 1 ~2 top leaves. And try as much as possible Dry & Sandy soil but wet soil and clay. Remember, these soil needs to be removed after winter, also do it in two sessions.

Part 3: Epilogue

Some professional farmers might realize Part 1: Grow tea seeds is not a good guide for them if they want to own tea plants over whole mountain, yes their doubts are true, it’s mostly for home grower, kind of fun, if you want to make a tea garden business, there is another version for you.

***

Why someone have no tea seeds?

Regarding Tea Seeds, there is a big misunderstanding that all tea varieties can birth seeds, this is not true, some do don’t have tea seeds, like Hairy Crab, Fuding Da Hao and Wuyi Water Spirits, they are all Triploid.

According to Wikipedia, Polyploidy is one have more than two paired sets of chromosomes, most species whose cells have two sets of chromosomes that can go well with reproduction, they can blossom and giving fruit.

Polyploidy tea plants normally is high and big as its chromosomes is doubled, that means big stem and fat leaves and also resistance enhanced, another result is disproportion of chromosomes segregation, so male and female gametes cannot mate to complete fertilization, so even they have flower, no fruit or tea seeds in the end. So in terms of economic interest, polyploidy tea plants are very good.

By the way, one ordinary Triploid species in your life is banana, also there is seedless watermelon, very popular in US, that’s my friend told me.

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