I’ve been lucky to again be using the shop space in Eureka where I built much of the interior of Edna the teabus. This time I was focused on getting my garden put in.
For the past few months I’ve been telling folks about the garden I was planning on building on the inside of Edna’s large side door. Because of that, people have been offering lots of advice and plants. Thanks to Dr. Glen Nagel at NCNM in Portland for the dozen or so medicinal plants, as well as Vanessa in Olympia for the lemon balm, and Tina at Crimson Sage Nursery in Orleans for several plants (including a couple Camellia Sinensis). Some random fellow also suggested a book called Sailing the Farm about homesteading on the ocean, which is similar to what I do on the tea bus. The book is great, and has some good advice for mobile plant growing. Also, my brother gave me a large pot, advice, some organic fertilizer, and potting soil.
The concept for the garden is simple: Build a box that fits a large (6” x 24”) pot in which I can grow herbs for tea. Underneath, a cabinet the houses spoons, sugar, honey, etc with a fold-down front to make a counter. Also, clad the inside of the metal door with salvaged wood. This creates a fun interactive space for people when they walk up to the bus. First of all, it is a super welcoming feeling to have the all wood door with live plants growing right on it. Then, I can pick individual flowers or leaves to put right into people’s tea. This creates that connection for people between something they are consuming and where it comes from. Also, the easy access to the honey and spoons allows people to feel like they are interacting with the tea bus on a level of not just being a guest, but a participant.
Of course, Joe’s shop was an ideal place to build this thing. He has amazing salvaged wood and was stoked to let me work for him in exchange for wood and shop space. I spent a couple days working on the design and construction of the box and trimming the door. I built most of the garden and box with redwood, but for the fold down door, Joe gave me a nice post of Japanese Oak, which I milled down into ¾” pieces, so the outside is rough looking and the inside is super smooth and beautiful. The door itself I clad with ¼” old redwood, so that it looks like an old barn door or something. It turned out beautiful.
I realized pretty quickly that I actually had too many plants. I had to choose only four plants for the box: Chamomile, Tulsi, Purple Shiso, and Lemon Balm. I also planted a Tea plant (Camellia Sinensis), which will ultimately be mounted on the side of the garden box, and can go out with the FREE TEA sign or hang off the side of the bus when serving tea.
I felt it was a good plan to build the garden to encourage interaction, both among people, the tea bus, and the plants themselves. And guess what! It has worked amazingly since I got it installed! People are even more attracted to the tea bus’ open door. I have been letting people pick Chamomile flowers to drop in their tea. I’ve been putting one fresh Tusli leaf in people’s tea.
I still have a little work to do on the garden, door, and cabinet, but alas, it is looking good. Thanks to everyone who helped make this possible!