Nisarga

Have your teeth dug into a juicy carrot lately? Or have you sunk your fingers deep into the goodness of organically grown food? This past weekend was an experience in just that. Digging, biting, tasting and learning. Sounds primitive? Well, a large portion of our lives is meant to be lived like that. Especially the part that appeases our gastronomical desires. Our dependence on commercially grown foods has become an addiction.  I’ve certainly  forgotten what it means to grow my own food and eat the fruits of my labor. The last time I remember anything remotely close to eating home-grown fruits and vegetables was way back in the day. My parents were obsessed about growing things all around and over the house. We never understood their passion for green.

Two and thirty years later, I can see why.  The need to live sustainably and eat organically is at an all time high right now. Our conversations day and night are centered around how we can maximize the little garden space we have. This, to grow simple everyday essentials for our use in the kitchen. V and I have been following Mr. Vidari Pollen (as he is popularly known on his YouTube channel) for quite a while now. If he has a fan club, then we are probably the platinum placard holders on that list. We love what he has to say about all things organic.

After waiting for a week or two, we finally managed to snag a visit to his farm. This genius of a man knows everything there is to know about whatever there is to know. There are very few people who take a place on a pedestal in my life. He is one such person. The first thing we learned on this journey was the importance of keeping things organic – soil to final product. His methods of cultivation, vegetable to live stock is all natural. The evidence of which is visible throughout his farm. Healthy soil, robust vegetables, chirpy, clucking hens, and blissful bleating goats. His little herb forest has every imaginable disease curing plant. There was something for everything.

Everything on the farm goes through the natural cycle. If he’s growing gourds for the season, and a bunch of pests attack his priced possessions, he doesn’t go after them with a fertilizer or pesticide gun, he let’s nature take its course. He had posted on YouTube about how his challenge for this season was to grow a gourd larger than the one he grew last year. When we visited him, the gourd was half eaten. He didn’t seem perturbed at all. His take on it – don’t do anything unnatural.

Neil and Sid had a blast. Mr. Pollen’s dogs and the kiddos were a riot. They frolicked amidst the crisp green carrots and Brahmi beds. His bed of Brahmi’s would put our little pot of it to shame. Each of us took one very important message away from this visit – be good to mother earth. Take only what you need, and we will have enough for everyone. How is it that life’s most simple messages are the hardest to follow?

 

P.S. We also took a bag of suppotas and limes away. He wanted us to taste some of the seasonal fruits on his farm. They were by far the sweetest set of suppotas we’ve ever tasted. Mum made pickle out of the limes, and needless to say, they absolutely rocked!

 

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Hibiscus or Jamaica or Rosemallow

“”What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

Why this post on hibiscus? The last few weeks have been busy with research on how I can make things at home for the family. By that I mean, how can I reduce our dependency on chemical products bought from the store. So beginning from soaps and all the way to lotions, I’m going the homemade, natural way. My first stop in this journey is to tend towards something that is available in our garden. It is perennial and is available anytime I need it. So hibiscus or Jamaica or Rosemallow as it is called is excellent stuff for the hair. Now, I know for a fact that V will do a double take if I suggest anything on the lines of using hibiscus on his hair, but momma and sonny will go the natural route.

For people who have an aversion for pasty hair masks, this may not be your thing. You could, instead use the hibiscus hair-oil recipe. This has been used in my family and just about anyone in Kerala who grows hibiscus. This plant is beautiful in every sense of the word. The flowers are used as an offering during worship, and it also has great uses in Ayurveda.

For the mask:

Hibiscus leaves enough to make about 1/2 a cup

5 fresh flowers

Wash the leaves and flowers and blend them to a fine paste. Apply liberally over hair and scalp and let sit for 30 mins. Rinse your hair with luke warm water. You could use a mild shampoo if you chose, but remember not to use anything to harsh. You will feel the difference right away. You could use this mask twice or thrice a week.

For the hair oil:

5 flowers. They can be fresh or a day old.

3 fresh hibiscus leaves

3 Tulasi leaves

I cup oil ( whatever you prefer for your hair)

Chop the flowers and leaves into small pieces, and crush it. You will get about 1/2 a cup of it. In a pan add just a little of the oil, then add the chopped up leaves and flowers. When the flowers and leaves begin wilting and release a leafy smell, add the remaining oil. When the oil gets luke warm, turn off the stove.

Allow it to cool. Sieve the homemade hibiscus hair oil into a glass bottle.

Before bathing warm the hibiscus hair oil and apply on hair and scalp and do a massage. Wait for 10 min. and take a bath. If you use this homemade hibiscus hair oil at least once a week consistently, it will help your hair grow well.