Daily Prompt: Snack

Last week, I went to Amma’s programs in Chicago and Atlanta. I had been enjoying eating the strawberries from my garden for about two weeks beforehand. When I returned home, I was surprised to see there were still strawberries available, and ripe blueberries as well. In fact, there were more blueberries than there has ever been on that little bush. Together they made a perfect snack.

Snack

Amma’s Vrindavan Tulasi Field… tulasi and so much more

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On January 8th, I visited one of the oldest gardens in Amritapuri. While it is known as Amma’s Vrindavan Tulasi Field, it has become so much more.

In the early years, growing tulasi was the main focus. Then, the volunteers who worked at the farm discovered that Rudraksha trees were scattered around the property. Rudraksha seeds are considered sacred in India so they started harvesting the seeds and planting more of the trees. They also began growing vegetables and other plants.

Farming on that property has been such a struggle over the years. Among the problems they faced were lack of water, poor soil, and bugs. When I visited the farm last year, what I saw took my breath away. It had turned into paradise. (To see photos of last year’s visit, click here.)

When I went there this year, I was amazed by all the new projects that were underway. The first thing I noticed was an irrigation system that was under construction. I thought about all the years they have watered using small hoses. What a difference the irrigation system will make.

Then I noticed all of the raised beds. I was told that when there are heavy rains, the farm floods. With raised beds, the plants will be higher than the water. Several swales have been constructed to drain off the flood waters, but the photos I took of those ended up looking like flat ground, so I didn’t use them.

There is a big pond on the property. The plants that are growing in the pond are used for mulching. I saw, and talked to, volunteers who were constructing stairs that will go into the pond to make harvesting those plants easier.

There are rudraksha trees on several parts of the property. They are easy to spot because their trunks have all been painted white. Next year I will ask why they do that!

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The numerous tulasi fields are thriving.

Many fruits and vegetables grow on the property.

I was surprised by the many varieties of eggplant. Later, I saw a bright yellow eggplant at Saraswati Garden but it was on the phone I lost on my last day at the ashram so you will have to use your imagination to see that one. I was particularly fascinated by the eggplant that looked like an egg!

The plant below is called Lakshmi Taru, The Paradise Tree, The Tree of Heaven, Simarouba or Simaroubaceae. It is a medicinal tree that has been used to treat dysentery, malaria, cardiac palpitations, asthma and epilepsy. It may have a role in cancer treatment.

I was intrigued by this flower.

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Later, I learned it is a Sita Ashoka flower. Ashoka means “without sorrow”. Hindus believe that Sita, wife of Lord Rama, sat in a grove of Ashoka trees after she was abducted by the evil Ravana. Buddhists believe that Lord Buddha was born under an Ashoka tree.

I found this photo of an Ashoka tree on Wikimedia.

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I will leave you with some final images of Amma’s wonderful Vrindavan Tulasi Field.

 

The Fascinating Fruit Fly

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My kitchen is filled with fruit at the moment- fruit that I am dehydrating, fruit that I am eating and fruit that I will either can or use to make jam. Today, fruit flies showed up in my kitchen in force. When I was frustrated with these tiny insects last year, I decided to learn more about them. I shared the information I learned on this blog. Since I assume that I’m not the only person who is dealing with fruit flies right now, I am going to reprint that post below. Continue reading “The Fascinating Fruit Fly”

The Beauty of Chinese Lantern Pods

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I have long been fascinated by Chinese Lantern plants. One of my neighbors has them lining the fence in front of her yard. In reading about them for this post, I learned they are nightshades, and therefore are related to tomatoes, peppers and eggplants.

I try not to pluck any bloom before its time so have never had the opportunity to look at the pods closely. However, when I walked by the house yesterday, one of the pods was lying in the middle of the sidewalk. I took it home and began my investigation! What follows is a mixture of camera and microscopic photos.

(You can enlarge the photos by clicking on any of the galleries.)

The pod itself has a consistency similar to a heavy paper. When I opened it, I discovered that it was not the hollow object I had thought it to be. The red ball I found inside was striking, and it did indeed seem similar to a ripe tomato.

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When I opened the fruit, it looked even more like a tomato. One of the things I learned later was that the fruit is edible when it is ripe, although not very tasty, but it is poisonous when it is not ripe. I felt relieved I had had the intuition that I should wash my hands after cutting it open.

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Using the microscope I had the privilege of once again viewing the beauty and intricacies of nature.

Here are photos of the pod from the outside

and the inside.

 The stem has multiple colors and features.

Here is what the bottom of the pod looks like.

Once I opened the pod, I found the shiny red fruit and the part that connects the fruit to the pod to be so interesting.

 My favorite views came when I looked inside the fruit.

I hope you enjoyed this journey into the Chinese Lantern pod. I sure did.