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.

 

End of the Season and More

It is near the end of the season for most of the plants in my garden, but it isn’t over yet!

It was an interesting year for the blueberry bushes. Four years ago, I planted three blueberry bushes, of different varieties. One died the first year and half of another one died last year. Neither had ever produced any blueberries. The third bush had a few blueberries the second two years. This year it there were many more, but they were very tiny. A few weeks ago it started producing fruit again, and they were full size. I wonder what will happen next year? Maybe I will be able to enjoy eating lots of blueberries!

A few days ago, I noticed some flowers coming out of the play chips in my back yard. I had never seen flowers like them before. Do any of you know what they are?

The other day it occurred to me that it is almost the end of the summer and I have never mentioned my worms. Normally, I would have written several posts about them by now.

I have a small worm bin close to my kitchen and a large one in the back yard. These creatures are very special to me. In fact, I consider them to be my pets!

In addition to providing me enjoyment, they also make vermi-compost, a high quality fertilizer, that I use in my garden. This year I had so many worms in my bins, even after I gave a lot of them away, that I had trouble keeping them fed. My problem was solved when I discovered that the nearby grocery store was more than happy to give me lettuce and other produce that they normally discard.

As the garden season ends, another season begins. This coming Sunday, the Seahawks have their first regular season game. After a life-long dislike of football, I became an avid Seahawks fan in the autumn of 2012. Since then Al, Ramana and I have often come together to watch the games and enjoy a meal. Last year, I told my friends if I am not somewhere that they think I should be, they should assume that I’m watching a Seahawks game. Same thing goes for this year!

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My 70 Day Wellness Challenge

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Picture Credit: Wikimedia

Yesterday, the first post I read was SeasonedSistah2’s My 70 Day Challenge to Wellness. Her post really grabbed my attention. I have been trying to change some health sabotaging behaviors for some time but making agreements with myself hasn’t worked. In particular, I continually give in to my desire for chocolate, donuts and cookies. I know from my own personal experience and in my experience as a psychotherapist that I will be more likely to succeed if I make a public commitment. Continue reading “My 70 Day Wellness Challenge”

Abundance from the Garden

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Before I left for Toronto last Thursday I harvested everything I could from the garden in an attempt to keep the vegetables from getting huge during the five days I was gone.  I can only imagine how big those items would have been if I had left them on the plants.  I came home to a whole new set of gigantic vegetables!

This is only a partial harvest from the front yard garden.  The vegetables are even bigger than they look in the photo.

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This is a zucchini!  It is eight inches high and nineteen inches around.

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Generally, I only give food scraps to the worms in my two worm bins, but I decided to share one of the big zucchini’s with them.  After all, their ceaseless work contributed significantly to making the garden what it is today.

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Day 3

My Oh My!

I’ve had a garden in my front yard the last few years, but it has never been like this before.  Maybe it is because of the new raised beds, or the extraordinarily hot weather, or the vermi-compost.

Whatever the reason, I am marveling at what is unfolding in front of my eyes!  There have been times when everything was growing so fast that I wondered if I was living in the Jack and the Beanstalk story.   

This may not amaze those of you who are used to successful gardens but this is the first time I’ve had this experience!

One of the things I am especially happy about is that the garden is full of bees.  Most are bumblebees but there are honey bees as well.  Two years ago bees were rarely to be found in my garden.

Mega Cabbage Feeds 275 People

I found this video so inspiring that I cried.  I hope you are moved by it too.

In 2008, when she was in third grade, Katie Stagliano planted a seed that grew into a 40 pound cabbage. She took it to a local soup kitchen where it was cooked, along with ham and rice, and served to 275 people. But the story only starts there. Watch the video to learn more.

A Time of Creation

When I returned from Amma’s programs in Everett on Tuesday, I was surprised by how much my garden had grown.  I felt so grateful to the neighbor who watered the plants for me during the four days I was gone.  Everything looked so beautiful.

I have shared a glimpse of the garden beds I have been building in past posts, but haven’t shown them up close.  I decided now is the time, even though I’ve only completed two of the four.

I plan to add some more dirt to this front one and straighten some of the bricks but other than that it is finished.  The bed closer to the house is about half done.

20150602_154308 Continue reading “A Time of Creation”