Do you know what I treasure most about my time spent in the garden? It’s all the subtle lessons that I receive in the quiet moments of repetitive work. This morning the tulsi taught my heart about exponential abundance. This amazing plant is Tulsi, Ocimum sanctum… also known at Sacred Basil. We grow several types of Tulsi, but the one that grows superbly for us is the Kapoor Tulsi. We originally got the seed from Horizon Herbs. The fragrance of this medicinal plant is intoxicating. The bees are swarming the plant even before it blooms, anxious for its sweet nectar.
Each week we prune the tops of the plants to encourage branching and allow the plants to really fill out before we allow them to go to seed.
What I love most about this plant is its generous growing nature. As with many plants in the Lamiaceae family ( mints), it has two sets of leaves at each branch. Each of those little leaf sets will eventually produce a full grown stem if allowed to grow.
Can you see the two sets of new leaves to either side of the central flower bud? When you pinch or cut out that central flower bud or stalk, it encourages branching of the two side shoots. We use this exponential growth pattern to our benefit with the Tulsi. We harvest all the tops of the plants down to the bottom couple of leaf shoots on each branch of the plant. When we do this each week, we encourage a more vigorous plant prior to flowering and seed set, and we also get the added benefit of homegrown herbal medicines! We have much to learn from the wondrous giving nature of the Tulsi. It is no wonder that this herb is revered in many cultures as the auspicious herb of health and longevity.
What I find helpful is to not take more than 1/3 of the tops of the plants when I am pruning the Tulsi. Take care of this sacred medicine, and she will take care of all of us! As I am harvesting the medicines, I take great care to sing to the plants. Songs of gratitude for the medicine plants; songs that will seep into the harvested leaves and nourish us as we make teas and tinctures. Songs that will sooth the majestic plants and encourage them to make vital and resilient seeds. My most favorite song to sing for the medicines was shared to me by Kontiwennenhawi- Akwesasne Women Singers. The Ononkwashona song gives gratitude for the medicine plants.
These fragrant leaves will dry in a just a few days and will add to our home apothecary of herbal allies. Tulsi is an amazing adaptogen, which allows our bodies to adjust to the pressures and stresses in our environment. I love to make a sun tea with fresh tulsi, peppermint, and licorice. Lately I have also been adding Jiao-gu-lan, which is another amazing tonic herb from China.
It is an expansive time on the farm as we lead up to the Solstice this week. Many plants have begun their initial flowering; peppers, melons, tomatoes, squash flowers are unfurling.
The harvests are abundant, and the children are loving the relaxed schedule of summertime. Look at this garden sprite, getting a snack straight from the soil.
What is more magical than pulling a fresh carrot out of the moist soil? It is a surprise that never gets old. Small carrots, long carrots, twisted and serpentine ones that cling to each other like old friends.
Grateful for the ever-giving nature of these seeds, these plants, this land. I hope your week has been expansive and whole-hearted! In honor of this coming Summer Solstice, I send to you the blessings of a thousand suns and this sweet offering of gratitude;
In recognition of the blessing of being alive on this beautiful planet
With great gratitude I honor the four directions
To the east and all that lay in that direction…
May the air and oceans enfold you in glorious beauty
And all creatures thrive upon your shores in health and harmony
To the south and all that lay in that direction…
May your mountains and rivers wash clean water to the sea
And your lakes and forests shelter all who dwell there
To the west and all that lay in that direction…
May the big sky of your plains sparkle with crystal clarity
And gift all life with healing rains and glorious sunshine
To the north and all that lay in that direction…
May your midnight sun shine upon a planet filled with hope
And the possibility of a peaceful world be made real
artwork by Hrana Janto