The Secret Ingredient That'll Make Your Compost Richer Than Ever

If you're looking for a natural way to give your garden a boost, and you are a bit of a caffeine fiend, you'll love this clever DIY gardening hack. Recycling feels even better when you discover ways to repurpose your trash instead of just chucking it out with all the other household waste. This secret ingredient, which you likely already have to hand, still contains powerful properties that can help to enrich your garden, even after you have finished using it yourself! 

We're referring, of course, to your used tea leaves. In a similar way to using coffee grounds as fertilizer, you can use tea leaves to add even more nourishment to your compost in order to feed plants and achieve some serious growth. If you're going to throw out your used tea leaves anyway, you could be getting double use out of them with this super easy gardening hack. Moreover, if you add them when they're still moist, they'll even help to speed up the decomposition process.

How to use leftover tea leaves to enrich your compost

The first thing, when using tea bags, is to check and see if the bags are compostable. This is because many tea bags actually contain polypropylene, which is a plastic used with heat to seal the bags to keep the tea leaves inside, so you can't compost them fully. Sometimes, you can also tell by the texture of the bag, if it contains some plastic, but it's always best to check the information on the box. You can still recycle the bag itself in your food caddy, so just wait until the tea bags are cool before you open them up to remove the tea leaves to add them directly to your compost heap, or just add your used loose-leaf tea leaves if you don't use tea bags. 

You'll know when your compost is ready to be used as it'll have cooled down and look like rich brown soil, with no visible remains of food particles, although this can take anywhere from just two weeks up to two years, depending on what you have decomposing on your heap. You can then start using it to add to your garden to make your soil healthier without needing to use harsh chemical products or commercial fertilizers.

How tea leaves work to boost and nourish your garden

Adding tea leaves to your compost is a great way to improve drainage, increase oxygen, maintain moisture, and even attract earthworms — all whilst adding nitrogen and other nutrients, such as potassium and phosphorus, to balance out the carbon content from organic materials in the compost heap, like sticks and dead leaves. Microorganisms digest it all and subsequently produce nutrient-filled compost for you to give back to your garden. Not only this, but the nitrogen in the tea leaves also works to help heat the compost pile to create an environment in which it is easier and faster for the organic material in the pile to decompose. 

You can use a variety of different types of tea leaves for this hack, including black tea, green tea, and even red tea. In fact, using rooibos as a mulch around young transplanted plants can significantly help the soil retain moisture and reduce stress due to the crusty surface layer created after being watered a few times. Try digging tea bags or loose leaves into the soil around your plants as well, as it can help to supply nutrients directly to the root systems, encouraging growth and helping to suppress weeds as the leaves decompose there.