Tea bags / Compost method question?

buckeye_brianDecember 11, 2007

I am not currently doing anything yet. I have just recently discovered this forum...and I love it! I have been hanging in the Farm Life / Homesteading forum until now.

My question is this...what about Lipton Tea bags? My family drinks a lot of tea. I have seen a lot of discussion on UCG's...but nothing on tea bags yet. Is there something about tea or is everyone "cup-of-Joe" people? Maybe our British friends can chime in!

Also for the "newbie" like me with plenty of room...do I build the bins, buy compost tumbler or both?

My wife and I tried composting about 5-yrs ago...but nothing happened and we lost faith. I was reading an Ohio gardening book and one of the chapters were on composting. I am sure I did everything wrong...but there it sat and we quit doing it.

Now I have new "inspiration" and ready to give it another try.

I have read a ton of post's in the last 3-days and you guys are all "awesome!" Looking forward to getting involved.


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you can compost tea bags and also the little paper pouch they come in. There are a couple of things you need to watch out for though.

-In some tea bags the piece of string is stapled onto the bag with a little metal staple. This shouldn't be a big problem in your garden if it's just the occasional one, but large amounts of staples aren't a good idea.

-Some manufacturers are starting to use nylon tea bags because of their better tear-resistance, making manufactoring cheaper. These aren't compostable. source: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/11/nylon_tea_bags.php
If you're willing to put in the effort, you can of course rip open the bag and compost the content. Luckily these aren't a common sight yet where I live.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2007 at 5:03AM
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Tea bags, even with the wee staples attached, are composted in my bins and I find no problem with that. The staples are so small that they will not be very noticeable in your soil.
With very little information about how you composted it would be very difficult to guess why you think you failed on that endeavor, since compost just happens.
Check the link below for a very good tutorial on composting.

Here is a link that might be useful: Florida's Online Composting Tutorial

    Bookmark   December 11, 2007 at 6:37AM
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Welcome to the forum. The main reason UCGs get so much discussion is that you can get large amounts of theem for free from Starbucks. It also takes more coffee grounds to make a pot of coffee than the amount of tea leaves you'd get from a comparable number of cups of tea.

As the others have said, you can compost these, bags and all (except for the nylon ones--I wasn't aware of those until I read that post).

As Kimmsr said, it's tough to tell what went wrong with your first effort without more detail. Even if you do something "wrong" you should eventually get compost. If it's way too dry and there's very little nitrogen, it could take a few years, but there's an acronym that's often touted here--IALBTC (It All Leads Back To Compost).

As far as whether you should buy, build or both, I bought a small bin mostly because my wife didn't want a pile. I've never used a tumbler, and they tend to be too expensive for my taste. If I had the room, now that I've seen them, I'd probably build a pallet bin or a wire mesh round bin (with hardware cloth or something like it).

    Bookmark   December 11, 2007 at 10:36AM
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Kimmsr, I compost teabags with staples also, but only the couple of bags I use each day. I wouldn't want to collect large amounts of bags with staples from a tearoom or similar. The fact that they're not noticable is actually bad. I wouldn't want a rusty 5 year old staple stuck in my finger while planting stuff, nor would I want to eat a root vegetable with a rusty staple embedded in it.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2007 at 10:54AM
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Tea bags deteriorate somewhat in the composting process but are still recogniable. I screen my compost through a 1/2" hardware cloth and they are easily found and disposed of.

As for building a bin, here's a link to bins that were built for a school composting project. The bins need to be placed off the ground since the untreated wood rots quickly sitting on the ground. The only cost were the screws; the rest of the material was recycled.

Here is a link that might be useful: Compost bin from pallets

    Bookmark   December 11, 2007 at 2:03PM
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Thanks everyone for the input.

About 6-years ago I bought the family "homestead" (term used losely) and we started putting out the big gardens I remembered growing up with. I bought a gardening book and read that thing from front to rear 20x's. I think it was called "Ohio Gardening by ???" Awesome book! Word of advice...never loan a book to someone at work when you work construction. You never know when that person is going to be layed off and you never see your book again.

Anyway...in that book was a complete chapter on composting. I cannot remember all instructions and steps...but that is the formula we used. We played with that pile for a long time. After awhile we lost interest and there it sits to this day...on a fence row out of the way.

We haven't even looked at it since. It probably looks like potting soil under the layer of vegetation...hahaha

Well this is a new year with new commitment! My sister also lives about 1/2 mile from a Starbucks. Maybe I can get her to start collecting UCG's for me???????

Thanks for the help

    Bookmark   December 11, 2007 at 4:04PM
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Brian, before you throw ALL of the tea bags into a composter, try giving your houseplants a quick pick-me-up by putting one or two tea bags into a container of water---you choose the size according to the number of tea bags--and give to your houseplants about every 3rd or 4th watering.

This gives the plants some needed acidity....most houseplants do well in acidic soil...so whatever small amount the tea bags have, is given as a tonic...not a fertilizer...to the plant.

The same thing can be said for used coffee grounds. But the grounds are valuable as a soil condiitioner and can keep gnats at bay.
Otherwise, put those bags to use....in the compost.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2007 at 5:47PM
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Demeter(z6 NJ)

The tiny staples eventually rust away anyway, contributing a bit of iron to the soil - which eventually becomes part of the bodies of worms and so forth. So don't sweat the staples.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2007 at 10:41PM
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The staples on the tea bags do rust away, but the iron oxide they produce is not the type of iron useable to plants, same thing with putting nails down. I've not found any evidence of those staples, or the tea bags, after composting them, corn cobs frequently but not the staples.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2007 at 10:23AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Can you buy tea bags without string,labels and staples in the States? The bags I use here are just perforated paper sachets without strings designed to be used in a teapot. Some speciality stuff like fruit teas or herb teas has staples and in my experience they do not last long in the garden. I used only to use loose leaf tea but I grew lazy about emptying the pot. Loose tea leaves I throw straight on the garden. Teabags go on the compost.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2007 at 2:03PM
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Belgianpup(Wa/Zone 7b)

I would not advise composting teabags. The tea, fine. But the bags, no. And this is why: the da*n things keep crawling to the edge of the compost bins and climbing out! You fork your compost into the next bin, and they either jump off the fork or jump out of the bin as you work. When you're finished, the bin is surrounded by escaping teabags.

No. Don't do it, or you'll be sorry. And some of them bite.


    Bookmark   December 12, 2007 at 11:34PM
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barton(z6b OK)

Buckeye, was this your ohio gardening book?

Here is a link that might be useful: ohio gardening book

    Bookmark   December 23, 2007 at 1:32PM
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