Visiting Amma’s Vrindavan Field

On December 29, Gopika and I visited Vrindavan Field. This garden was started many years ago. At that time it was a tulasi garden. Over time, the devotees added many other kinds of plants. Several years ago, they discovered that some of the trees on the site were rudraksha trees. The seed that is inside of the rudraksha fruit is sacred. Since then, gardens all over the ashram have been raising rudraksha tree seedlings. The photo above shows an area that contains a combination of coconut palm trees and rudraksha trees. The tree in the foreground on the left is a rudraksha tree.

One of the first plants I was drawn to on this visit was a banana palm sprout that was growing out of a nearly dead banana palm stalk that was lying on the ground. You can see a tiny bit of the sprout on the left side of the first photo below; most of the photo is of the stalk. The second photo shows the full sprout. Banana palms only give fruit once; then they die and new sprouts take their place.

(Click on any of the galleries to enlarge the photos.)

The gardens and farms in this field have had to deal with so many problems over the years. For example: lack of water, flooding, disease, and poor soil.  The staff have experimented with so many processes to enrich the soil and to retain water. Their effort has definitely paid off, but challenges still come and go.

This year a lot of the tulasi plants died and the garden doesn’t seem as lush as it did last year. But there is still plenty of beauty and the site is producing a considerable amount of food. I saw bananas, coconuts, tapioca, many kinds of spinach, beans, eggplant, okra, basil and moringa growing. There were plants that I didn’t recognize and I suspect many of them are edible.

I didn’t see as many flowers as in the past, but there were some…

… and there were plenty of interesting plants.

As we were leaving, one of the staff offered to take us to see the rudraksha trees on the School of Ayurveda grounds. She said those trees were much smaller than the ones in Vrindavan Field. We  gladly took her up on her offer and it was well worth it; the trees were beautiful.

To read the previous posts in this series click here.

My Echinacea Plant is Thriving

Last summer, I purchased my first echinacea plants. I’ve particularly enjoyed watching this one grow. It gets more sun than the other two and the difference is remarkable. One attribute that I find fascinating is that it has blossoms in so many stages of development at the same time. I am also enjoying the fact that the plant has at least four times the number of flowers-in-the-making than it did last year.

None of these flowers are fully developed yet. I look forward to showing you what it becomes. I also am anticipating looking at the flowers under the microscope. The shots I took last year were spectacular.

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

Mother Nature’s Creation

I’ve been so involved in the Greenbelt restoration work that I’ve given my front yard garden very little attention. I’m loving how Mother Nature filled in the gap and made it beautiful in her own way.

For the last few years I have planted five or six pansies in the garden. Occasionally one has come back after the winter. This year, though, pansies of all colors have sprung up throughout the garden. There are so many of them! It seems so strange since that has never happened before.

Many of the blooms are withering but the combination of  colors are still beautiful.

I had an early bloom on one of the squash plants……..

…. but so far there isn’t any squash. The plants seem healthy but I haven’t seen both male and female blooms on any variety and I haven’t seen any bees. I will hand fertilize when that becomes possible.

The Lazy Susan plant and the Echinacea plants have buds. I look forward to seeing their flowers.

There is a seemingly endless supply of lemon balm and peppermint.

Thank you Mother Nature for all that you do for me, and for the world. You are a paragon of compassion and an artist that has no equal.

 

 

Blossom

Create

Paragon

Red Clover

I planted red clover as a cover crop in my garden last October. I’ve done that before and just turned the plants over in the spring. This year, a friend told me she always lets it grow because she loves the red flowers it produces. I decided to find out what those flowers were like. I was not disappointed.

The bumble bees love it and I’ve seen one honey bee gathering nectar there as well. I look forward to examining one of the flowers under the microscope next week. What a fun way to provide nutrients to my garden soil.

Weekly Photo Challenge: A Good Match

Every time I thought about “A Good Match,” my mind went back to a 2013 photo. I felt a sense of fascination when I first saw this tromboncino squash…. and I am still fascinated by it. To me it is the epitome of a good match.

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Tromboncino squash are considered summer squash and are used in the same way as zucchini.

What I find most interesting about this form of squash, though, is that if you allow it to continue to grow, it will turn into a winter squash. In that process, it changes color and the skin becomes hard. The inside becomes sweet and reminds me of acorn squash. I really love eating it at that point.

I also love how big the squash grows. This one was five feet long!

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(I took the photo above by taking a picture of myself in a mirror. My arms weren’t long enough to take it facing me. Besides, in 2013, I probably didn’t even know what a selfie was!)

This and That

I’ve been wanting to provide updates on subjects I’ve written about in the past, so I decided to publish a This and That post.

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Those of you who followed my recent journey to Amma’s ashram in Amritapuri, India may remember that in January I was wondering why these “caterpillars” didn’t eat the Saraswati Garden plants. I’m used to seeing caterpillars demolish plants.

Two readers informed that the creatures weren’t caterpillars; they were centipedes. I had never considered that possibility. As I look closely at the photo above, I can see all of the legs, but I sure didn’t see them at the time.

I saw a centipede in Amritapuri two years ago. I remember it moved so fast that it left me speechless.

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That one was more like centipedes I’ve seen in the United States. I had no idea that centipedes could be brightly colored. Those readers also told me that centipedes don’t eat plants; they are carnivorous. Their diet consists primarily of insects and spiders.

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While I was in Amritapuri, crosswalks were painted on the street down the beach road. I saw about a mile of them, so I suspect they go the whole length of the peninsula. At the time, I wondered what crosswalks meant in India. I still don’t know what they mean.

I don’t believe that the crosswalks give pedestrians right-of-way, or if they do, that fact is being completely ignored. I didn’t see any change in driving patterns. I suspect a policeman or policewoman would have to stand there before the drivers would stop.

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When I wrote my Women’s March on Seattle post, I was not able to get the video I took of a group of drummers turned from vertical to horizontal. I have recently accomplished that feat, thanks to some advice from a friend. You can see a clip of the performance in the video above, and I also added it to the post.

I had edited the post once before so I could include two addendum. One of them contains beautiful Women’s March photos from around the world. I cried as I scrolled down that article. If you would like to see the added content click here.

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In January of 2015, I spent the night in the Dubai airport hotel. I was mystified when I walked into the bathroom. What was that on the left? Was it a man’s urinal? That didn’t make sense but neither did anything else.

There wasn’t even a flush on it. It was more like a bath tub. A bath for your dirty butt? I couldn’t get myself to try it that year or even the next. By then, I had been told that it was a bidet, and that you wash yourself some before you use it. The idea still seemed gross to me. It sure wasn’t like any bidet I’d ever seen.

This year I got brave and tried it out. Not bad. It was  a bidet that had better aim than the kind I was familiar with.

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I never found my lost iPhone, so have not been able to recover the photos I took on my last days in Amritapuri. I was able to find the Work With Nature YouTube channel that Lokeshwar, the man who organized the Amritapuri seed-saving garden, created. I just looked at that channel for the first time. There is SO much information there.

I also watched some of the videos. Lokeshwar’s Amritapuri garden has three of the plastic hives that you will see in the video below. They are for tiny sting-less bees. My understanding is that 50,000 bees can be housed in each of these bee hives and that the bees will always come back to that hive. (Lokeshwar is the man on the right.)

In this seed-saving garden, they are conducting experiments with biochar and terra preta.

There are so many videos on his site. I look forward to exploring more of them in the future.

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Photo Credit: Wikimedia
Photo Credit: Wikimedia

I slept 7 hours last night. Hallelujah! I know better than to assume my jet lag is over, but I can still hope! Sleeping only three hours at a time is exhausting.

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I think this is the end of my updates, at least for now!