Friday, July 25, 2014
I have wanted a tea plant for more than five years and I am delighted that I now have one planted in my front yard. I have checked on it every day I was here, expect for the days I have been on vacation. Every time I examine it (for signs of bugs, or disease, or anything) I am so happy that I finally have the plant I have wanted for so long.
It's about waist high and I am excited that it is doing so well. I have struggled to have a plant like this, buying seeds online and even trying to propagate one, TWICE, from springs I received from my friend Angela McRae who owned one already but now has two since she purchased one at at the same time.
It took a new business in town, Southern Roots on Hwy 29 in Newnan and a visit to our Crossroads Garden Club by the owner, Bob Lott, to finally find what I had been looking for so long. Lott and his wife Sherry opened the business last year after retiring, and he specializes in southern plants and plants that do well in our area of the south.
As Lott was speaking about his plants, he mentioned that as far as he knew, he was the only person in the area that had a "tea plant." I haven't seen one for sale locally and had only seen the tea plant or Camellia sinensis at Hills and Dales estate in Lagrange. I had even asked if they could propagate one for me but even though they were gracious enough to take my name, they never contacted me. I guess they had too much work on that large estate, to worry about selling one plant, and I understand that.
The Camellia sinensis originated from China and is grown and exported from many Asian countries. Some tea plantations have their own varieties though all tea comes from the same Camellia sinensis plant. I would imagine that soils might make a difference in the flavor variations, but that is not a scientific supposition, just an opinion of mine because of what I have read. I do know that my favorite black tea comes from the Assam region of India.
The largest tea grower in the United States is located in Charleston, South Carolina, though there are smaller growers in the states of Washington, Alabama, and Hawaii. I don't know if my "tea plant" originated from one of these places but I would guess Alabama or South Carolina. I wish in this case that plants could come with papers to let us know their origin, but they usually don't.
An interesting fact about tea is that black, green, and white tea all come from the same plant, Camellia sinensis, but are processed differently.
Do I plan on making my own tea from my tea leaves? Of course I do. Apparently, springs from a Camellia sinensis should only be harvested when the plant is three years old. I don't know exactly how old my plant is, but it already has seeds should make it old enough for harvesting.
I know that even though I love tea, I have no experience as a taster and might not be able to tell the difference between old leaves and new but I am sure that I will soon be able to harvest. I certainly don't want my tea plant to grow too tall. I have read they get up to 16 feet if not trimmed (or plucked).
I do know that the Camellia sinensis is an acid loving plant and needs plenty of rainfall to produce leaves for tea production so I need to monitor rainfall to make sure my plant is happy enough to produce.
I may even try to grow some plants from seed--I have at least four green ones on the plant. I would love to have my own tea hedge and harvest enough tea for my family.
Friday, July 18, 2014
When I did decide to look it up I found they were indeed beach morning glories.
According to Ralph Mitchell is, Extension Director/Horticulture Agent for Charlotte County UF/IFAS Extension Service it is a beach or railroad morning glory that is used to help prevent beach erosion.
I think it also adds enjoyment to my walks along the beach. I am glad to know what these flowers are and my husband is happy to know he was right.
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Monday, July 14, 2014
Monday, July 7, 2014
Monday, June 30, 2014
Saturday was a very big event for us. We were at the Carnegie Library in downtown Newnan, Ga. presenting our story and giving tips for gluten-free baking and cooking. The photos are courtesy of Katie Brady who was an incredible hostess for this event.
We certainly appreciate the Newnan Carnegie Library Foundation and Katie Brady who invited us to speak and present our gluten-free tips, and also serve some of our baked goodies to the attendees. We had about fifty who came out on a beautiful Saturday morning to hear us speak and I must say, the audience was so attentive and encouraging. We felt we were really helping those who are struggling to provide a gluten-free lifestyle in a world that is obsessed with wheat!
They provided encouragement and also some very good tips, too. I think it is amazing how much you can learn from a group of like-minded people.
We told everyone about our story and how we came to this point--blogging, authoring a book, and trying to keep things going with busy lives, careers and families.
We showed them the flours and ingredients we use and gave them tips that included, keep positive, how to turn your mistakes into something good--like croutons from a failed bread recipe, and making a trifle from a cake that fell. We also demonstrated how mixing wasn't such a bad thing and gave away one of the mixes we created.
After we spoke, we invited everyone to try our our goodies and the brownies were the crowd favorite. The Lemon Blueberry Cake which was my favorite, and a very close second with the crowd.
Later, we had a book signing (here I am making change from my purse!).
I can only say how welcomed we felt and appreciate so much the Newnan Carnegie Foundation, Katie Brady, Carol Zoeller, Carolyn Sears, and Anita Headley. They helped us so much. We are definitely fans of the Newnan Carnegie. Thanks so much!