The Popular Kitchen Staple That Works Wonders For Tomato Plants

Tomatoes are a popular addition to a vegetable garden, particularly for the novice just starting out with a small plot. The plants are incredibly easy to grow, love the heat and sunshine, and are very productive over their long summer season. Truly, beyond planting the seedlings well past the last spring frost and making sure they're sufficiently watered, there's not much else you need to do to keep them healthy. However, there are additional ways to benefit your tomato plants and keep them thriving. One trick in particular involves something most people can find in their kitchen: a simple tea bag.

There are many ways tea can be used to boost the hardiness and output of your tomato plants. Tea bags and the leaves inside can be used as a supplemental fertilizer, pest repellent, mulch, or an antifungal treatment. And because all true tea comes from the same plant, any authentic tea can be used in these various applications. This will ensure that your tomato plants flourish all season long.

Use tea bags as fertilizer and mulch

Tea contains tannic acid, so when tea bags are added to the soil, they enrich it with nutrients while also lowering the pH balance (indicating an increase in acidity). Tomato plants love slightly acidic soil, so by mixing used tea bags into the soil around your tomato plants or by cutting open the bags and releasing the leaves themselves, you'll make your tomatoes very happy. Furthermore, the leaves can be eaten by worms, which will then fertilize and enrich the soil with their waste. In addition, tea bags can be added to your compost pile. The tannic acid will speed up the decomposition process until your compost has created a hearty fertilizer of its own.

Another way to use tea bags in and around your tomato plants is as a mulching product. In addition to keeping weeds at bay, when tea bags are placed on top of the soil or just under it, they will retain water and ensure the soil doesn't get too dry. Used tea bags are just as good as new ones too, so there's no worry about being wasteful or creating an extra expense. Simply reuse the bags you've previously made tea with.

Protect your tomatoes against pests and disease

If you happen to discover some old tea bags on a shelf when you declutter your pantry, they can still be used. Brewed tea poured into a spray bottle and left to sit until it reaches room temperature can be sprayed onto your tomato plants to act as an anti-fungal treatment. Fungal diseases can wreak havoc on a garden, making this beverage an invaluable protectant. This also works for tea that has already been brewed but is no longer fresh, whether it's been sitting in the fridge or on the counter for too long. Basically, any tea you consider unfit to drink works just as well as a freshly-brewed pot and is preferable because it's less wasteful.

This tea spray treatment — and indeed all these tea applications — will also protect your plants from pests that dislike the smell. Several bugs, for instance, hate the telltale odor of this drink and will steer clear of it, as will mice. It's even an easy way to keep your cat, or any neighborhood cats, off the tender vines. Tea won't work for all pests, but it's enough of a benefit to tomato plants in so many different capacities that it's well worth adding to your gardening regimen.