Today I tried a product that completely blew me away. I am thrilled to have found Rooibos Mulch by Carmién Tea (based in Citrusdal in the Western Cape) and I want to tell you a bit about it.

(For our foreign visitors that are perhaps not familiar with Rooibos: Rooibos – Afrikaans for “red bush”; (scientific name Aspalathus linearis) is a broom-like member of the legume family of plants growing in South Africa’s fynbos. The plant is used to make an herbal tea called rooibos tea, bush tea (esp. Southern Africa), redbush tea (esp. UK), South African red tea, or red tea. The product has been popular in Southern Africa for generations and is now consumed in many countries – source: Wikipedia)

A few weeks ago I saw Rooibos Mulch for sale at a nursery and saw someone walking out with a few bags. I was curious. I stopped the friendly gardener and asked her about it and she pretty much raved about it to me. As I had just finished laying bark mulch all over my garden so I decided against buying any that day but made a mental note to try out Rooibos Mulch before the next time I need to mulch all my beds.

Coincidentally, a few days later I received a mail from from Lize at Carmién Tea offering me a few free sample bags of their rooibos mulch, with no strings attached. I responded, admitted that I was considering using it and I offered to pay for a few bags to trial it. A few days later a charming young man delivered five bags of the mulch to me as a gift. The correspondence was clear – I would trial it and if I felt that way inclined I would blog about it giving my honest opinion.

So where to use? My vegetable planters have never been mulched with anything other than compost, I’ll give those some of this mulch. In the garden I have been pulling out spent annuals and overgrown ground covers, so I have a few blank spots of exposed soil that could do with some fresh mulch.

I decided to compare the Rooibos Mulch with the mulch I have been favouring – Bark Mulch. After all, the objective is to see which one I will use next time my entire garden needs mulching again.

I will let the photos do the talking …

The trial gets underway … Rooibos vs BarkThe trial gets underway ... Rooibos vs Brak

Lets compare. Both look very niceLets compare. Both look very nice

Close up of Rooibos MulchClose up of Rooibos Mulch

Close up of the Bark MulchClose up of the Bark Mulch

Lets compare them in a flower bedLets compare them in a flower bed

Rooibos and Bark Mulch – Both are beautifulRooibos and Bark Mulch - Both are beautiful

Before in the veggie planter …Before in the veggie planter ...

… and After with the Rooibos Mulch... and After with the Rooibos Mulch

Lovely between pavers and dainty flowersLovely between pavers and dainty flowers

Suberb around tender plants and bloomsSuberb around tender plants and blooms

A newly mulched veggie containerA newly mulched veggie container

Surrounding the Lemon GrassSurrounding the Lemon Grass

My “Wind Trial” shots

It was quite windy today. I only realised after I’d cut the bags open that it was gusty out. How would the wind affect the laying of the Rooibos mulch which is so much softer and lighter than the bark chips? Well lets see …

Photo of the loose mulch taken at 16h18Photo of the loose mulch taken at 16h18

And taken again at 17h15. Not much changeAnd taken again at 17h15. Not much change

Rooibos Mulch – What did I like?

  • It looks really fantastic! I love it! I think it looks better than the peach pips I used once and the bark mulch I currently use.
  • Compared to bark mulch, this was extremely gentle on the hands. I did not need to wear gloves to lay it! Wonderful!
  • It went down easily!! Much easier to put down than bark. Firstly, the bags are lighter and it is easy to control the flow of the mulch out of the bags as opposed to having to handle the bark to lay it. And it pours beautifully!
  • When laying bark I have to be careful around tender, soft little plants that I don’t damage them or even cover them completely if they are tiny. The Rooibos Mulch went over seedlings that are about 3cm tall without ease and without disturbing a single seedling. Fabulous!
  • Between pavers it is amazing! No mess, no fuss! Try laying those big bark pieces between a 3cm gap between pavers. Can’t be done if you want it to look nice. The Rooibos Mulch went into the gaps with ease, looks fabulous and I made hardly any mess (see Photo number 9 above – mulch laid, no cleaning afterwards).
  • You cannot easily “sprinkle” bark mulch around. Rooibos Mulch sprinkles easily so you can lay mulch even in hard to reach little places. It can be sprinkled over and around plants.
  • Its totally organic!
  • Snails dislike the slightly sharp stalk edges so its a good biological pest control. I have quite a snail problem so this is great news!
  • But … The VERY BEST Feature of Rooibos Mulch is the smell when you water it … OMG! It is absolutely wonderful to get the subtle smell of Rooibos when you water on and around this mulch. I’d buy it just for that!

What didn’t I like?

  • Not a single thing. Zero. Zip. Nudda.

My Verdict

I am very tempted NOT to tell you where to get it because I want to keep this little secret all to myself!  Just kidding, but Im going to be a upset if they can’t supply me when I order my next load of mulch in September because y’all have bought every last bit of Rooibos Mulch in the country! I fear that once this product becomes known there will be a shortage! Please leave me some then I’ll share my secret …

Contact details for Carmien Tea

To order the Real Rooibos Mulch, contact the farm directly on:
Telephone: +27 (0)22 921 3405/7 or via e-mail admin@carmientea.co.za
The bags cost R6.00 per 3kg bag, excluding delivery. (Those are 3kg bags you see in my photos).
You can get the full details, all the features and benefits etc. from the website at: Carmien Tea – The Real Rooibos Mulch.

PS: This product is going to the very top of our “Recommended Products” list which you can see here: Recommended Products by The Gardening Blog.

Other Benefits of using Rooibos Mulch

  • Rooibos mulch forms a crusty layer on the soil after a few waterings. This layer reduces water loss through evaporation and is thus ideal for reducing stress on young transplants and contributes to considerable water saving in gardens and potplants.
  • A 10 – 15% better growth was observed on young plants when using the rooibos mulch.
  • The mulch is a natural organic product and will not harm the environment – it is attractive and will not blow away once watered thoroughly.
  • The tea reduces germination of weeds through formation of an insulating layer above the soil, thus facilitating cleaner seedbeds and potplants.
  • The leachate, which is low in tannins, is beneficial to plant and root development. Tea has been used by gardeners since Grandma´s days for maintaining healthy growth.
  • Mixed with potting soil, it provides an excellent growing medium – light and well drained.
  • PH is between 5 and 5.5 – ideal for plants requiring slightly acidic medium. Bonemeal or lime can be added to modify pH for plants requiring more alkaline conditions.