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A Landscaped Tea Garden In El Paso

A Landscaped Tea Garden In El Paso

I recently traveled to El Paso in Texas where my cousin runs a landscaping business. He does things like lawn care, tree care, installing sprinkler systems, etc. He even installs pools, patios and various other outdoor landscaping type of features, including rock gardens, desert gardens and so on.

landscape in el paso texas
The Landscape in El Paso provides good light for growing

While I was in El Paso, I had a lot of time to kill, so I joined my cousin on a couple of his landscaping gigs. It was quite interesting, especially one of them. It was a giant house with a huge backyard, and in that yard, they had actually installed a landscaped tea garden.

Obviously this was hugely interesting to me as a tea enthusiast. You can probably guess what surprised me the most. How does tea grow in El Paso? Tea needs a humid climate with a lot of rain. El Paso does not have that. It is much too dry for tea, isn’t it?

It is. But these people had installed a great irrigation system that watered the tea plants constantly and kept them wet. El Paso isn’t as humid as a lot of places were tea grows naturally, but it seems to work just fine. The plants all looked quite healthy. Along with the irrigation system that brings the correct amount of water, the other important nutrient for any plant is the right natural light. And you get a ton of sunlight in El Paso.

Actually, tea usually grows well in places that don’t get all that much sunlight. These are places with a lot of cloud cover, like the high mountains in China or Taiwan or Darjeeling, India. It was very interesting to me to see tea do so well in southern Texas.

I’ve written previously about growing indoors under grow lights. That also got me to research a bit whether grow lights could help tea that is growing outdoors. I thought maybe if tea got more light, it would grow better.

Like I said, it grows in areas with less natural sunlight, because those areas have a ton of cloud cover or they get a ton of rain. But what if you could provide more light by supplementing the sunlight with outdoor grow lights? Would that have an effect on the tea? Would it make the tea grow faster?

In a way I got my answer in El Paso. No, they weren’t supplementing the natural sunlight with any type of grow light, but the tea here was getting much more natural sunlight. And it seemed to grow very well. It looked healthy and the bushes were quite large.

That said, it was hard to tell, because they had been landscaped so severely. They had been shaped into interesting shapes and such. They looked really cool and I guess it was functional. I mean if you’ve ever seen a tea garden from Japan, they are also landscaped so that they resemble long mounds, kind of like rivets. It looks really cool. And this garden looked really cool too.

landscaped tea plants growing under light
Tea plants growing in natural sunlight

My cousin said he actually suggested using tea plants in their backyard instead of the standard rock garden features that you see in El Paso. He thought it would make a cool landscaping feature, since the owners are huge tea enthusiasts.

They loved the idea and are apparently very happy with it. He still gets a lot of work for them, as he cares for their lawn and their backyard regularly. In a way he, and they, have me to thank for that. It was my love for tea that got him to think about planting tea plants in these people’s backyard.

I think it’s pretty cool that I, in my small way, contributed to the spread of tea to an area where it has never been grown before. So my landscaping El Paso cousin is the guy actually responsible for it. I’m the one who put the idea in his head, so I’m obviously going to take all the credit. You’re welcome, world!

Jealous Of My Friend’s Indoor Herb Garden

Jealous Of My Friend’s Indoor Herb Garden

Because I travel so much, I have to give up a lot of things. Things that people with permanent homes get to have. Things like televisions and cars and furniture. And also plants. I love to eat healthy just as much as I love drinking tea. But when you travel it’s really hard to find healthy food all the time.

led grow light in an indoor garden
Potato plants growing under an LED grow light

One of the big problems is getting quality vegetables and fruits. You never know what kind of pesticides they’ve been sprayed with, and many times the water is even filthier than that, so you can’t really wash them. You wind up eating all kinds of harmful chemicals. There is nothing you can do about it.

Of course people who don’t travel have the same problem, but they can grow their own vegetables and fruits. That’s something I’ve always envied. I always wanted to have my own organic garden. A place where I can grow my own fruits and my own vegetables and my own herbs, so that I don’t have to eat the crap they sell in supermarkets in most countries.

Even buying organic doesn’t really solve the problem. Would you trust a Chinese store that tells you they’re selling organic food? That’s a redundant question. Unless you answered “yes, I would.” In that case I have some bad news for you. You can’t trust anything you’re told in China. There are plenty of reports of everything being sold fake. Fake eggs, fake walnuts, fake meat. Nothing labeled organic in that country is actually organic. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if they just bought the fruits and vegetables at the supermarket, slapped an organic label on them and resold them at three times the cost.

Anyway, the reason for this post (my first in over a year, I know – I’ve just been so busy with other things) is that I recently spent some time at a friends house. This friend is married with two children. Ever since they had kids, they began to really think about the food they buy. They don’t want to poison their kids, obviously.

Now, they live in the city and don’t have space for a garden. At least not a traditional garden. Instead what they’ve done is used one of the smaller rooms in their house and have started growing their own little garden there.

It’s a dark room and doesn’t get enough light for a garden, so they’ve had to supplement the little sunlight that comes through a small window by buying a grow light. This is something I didn’t know much about, but I found it a very interesting subject when talking to my friends.

Apparently there are whole bunch of different technologies and one of the newest are LED grow lights. That’s what they bought. These things are really expensive, but they give a ton of light that’s perfect for plans and they don’t create the kind of heat some of the other lights do. You also don’t have to change the bulbs at all.

It seems like a great thing if you can afford it. And I can tell you what they grow in their garden tastes amazing and look so fresh and clean. I loved eating at their place and if I ever stop traveling and settle in one location, I’m definitely going to get my own grow light just like the one they had and start growing my own vegetables.

Anyway, kind of rambling post today. Just some thoughts I had on recent long train ride. I think maybe I’m starting to reach the point where I want to stop traveling and get my own place. It would have other benefits too, like being able to get tea shipped in, which is something you can’t do when you travel.

It doesn’t much matter when you’re in a country like Japan or China where you can get great tea, but when you’re traveling in a country without tea, it really sucks. I really miss tea at those times. Anyway, enough rambling.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever had your own garden, especially if you’ve had an indoor garden like my friends do.