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Tulasi Shrine
Nuevo Templo del Yatra de Alicante (Spain)


"Now I understand that the seedlings are coming out, so the whole spot if possible may be covered by some net because the seedling stage creepers being very delicate are sometimes eaten up by the sparrows, so we have to give a little protection from attack of the sparrows. All the devotees should pour water at least once in the morning before taking prasadam. The watering should not be very much large in quantity, but it should be poured just to keep the ground soft and moist. Sunlight also should be allowed. When the creepers are grown at least 7 inches high, then you can take them out from the planting soil and transplant them in a row in a different place. Then go on watering and they will grow like anything. I think this plant cannot grow in cold countries, but if the plants are dispatched from your place and if the devotees take care of the plant with a little care in a flower pot, then it may grow."

Srila Prabhupada Letter to Govinda, 04-07-70, Los Angeles


SECTION ONE

I. Housing, Light, Temperature & Humidity

II. Soil & Drainage

III. Potting & Transplanting


The most important and fundamental principle of Tulasi care is regular and perpetual care. She is a pure devotee, and Her requirements are few and simple. She simply requires Her own quarters with direct sunlight, where She can grow without disturbances and interruptions. She should be watered at approximately the same time and Her leaves should also be collected at a regular time. Mornings between 7:30 and 9:00 are the best for both purposes. The most essential ingredient is one individual devotee to take the responsibility of tending Her. This means that this devotee is conscious of Tulasi throughout the day-- checking that Her door is shut, that She has sufficient water, that Her fan is on, that Her leaves are being offered regularly and fresh. In this way She is nursed through the day and night. It is not so much time consuming-- but rather 1/2 hour to 40 minutes (depending on the number of Tulasis) in the morning and then utilizing the few spare moments throughout the day. If this is done regularly and in an orderly fashion She will bloom and flourish.


I. Housing, Light, Temperature and Humidity

Housing

If you are building a greenhouse, or something for shelves, plaster grating, which is a thick wire mesh, If supported with several wood braces, is first class. As you work, you wil1 see that wood shelves will warp and are hard to keep clean, while open spaced mesh allows the dirt and water to fall right through.

If Tulasi is housed in a greenhouse or enclosed protection, and you find it getting too hot inside, try a whitewash of lime and water on the roof. This inexpensive treatment will filter out much of the heat but leave the necessary rays. Be sure to rotate Her if She is in a window, so that She will grow symmetrically.

Light

It has been found that She pines for sun-- Tulasi grown indoors after 8 or 10 months do not fair as well as those given real sunlight. (Krishna says, "I am the light of the sun and the moon.") Greenhouse are not all that expensive to build. $60 (Keep in mind this was written in 1970) can build a really first-class house that can accommodate up to 60 2-foot Tulasis, and adaptations can always be made as to weather, climate, building materials on hand, and the number of Tulasi's involved. Porches, arbors, fire escapes, and roof tops can al1 be modified to fit the need.

If indoor lighting is unavoidable (actually some arrangement can always be made), then fluorescent tubes and fixtures (each holding at least 2 bulbs) can be suspended over and around Her. The lights must be special indoor full spectrum plant tubes, not your ordinary white fluorescent tube. The plant lights are effective only within a 6" radius, after which they drop to a potency of 0. Because of this, Tulasis that are grown indoors become "leggy", with long stems, thin stalks, only a few leaves, and a clump of leaves at the top, near the light. Because the lights have such a short range of feet, the leaves receive no real juice, and therefore fade and fall off. The result is a weak and top heavy Tulasi. To alleviate the situation, place one set of fixtures over Her (as close as possible as She will not be burnt unless actually touching for a period of time), and then bank two more fixtures, one on each side, giving you a total of 3 fixtures, totaling at least 6 tubes.

If done in this way, there will be a complete aura of light around Her. Foil can then be used to provide a hood, catching all the reflected light and focusing it on Her. Set the lights on some sort of pulley or adjustable chain affair, and in this way the lights can be raised as She grows. Please, no sun lamps.

Temperature

We learn in Krishna Book that at the time of death, the temperature in the body rises and then falls; the falling causes the total devastation of the life symptoms. Similarly, in the colder regions there is a large variance factor of temperature between night and day. Too much variation in this field will cause color disfigurations. Sometimes one whole branch will just wilt up and go limp while the remainder of Her transcendental form will remain fresh and green. This is caused by that one branch being too close to an outer wall of the house and thereby exposed to the cold, or being too close to the heater, or a pot that was watered late in the afternoon and the water in the soil froze, or not enough water and She dried out. There are so many options, so always be aware of changes in weather and try to retain a balance of water, light and heat.

Keep a thermometer in Her room, having it in the shade at the average level of the Tulasis on Their shelves. When She is first moved into a room or house, station several thermometers at different levels and angles, as heat will not be evenly distributed. (Some corners catch more sun, heat rises, air doesn't circulate regularly, there are so many variables-- so seek them out and rectify.

Humidity

Humidity refers to the amount of moisture in the air, and this will change with the weather. The process for maintaining a balance will depend on the number of Tulasis you have the benediction of tending. In Hawaii, where a greenhouse with gravel for a floor was used, all that was necessary was to run the hose on the rocks for a few minutes every morning and the problem is solved. In St. Louis, a strong table with 8" sides on it all the way around was lined with plastic and filled it with perlite. This is a very inexpensive sponge rock which absorbs and holds water. From the level of the rocks to the top or sides on the table was around 2" and across this were placed thick slats, placed 1" apart. On the slats, the Tulasi pots were set. Water was poured into the enclosed sponge rocks whenever necessary as the weather evaporated the water. This arrangement of having the Tulasis with air circulation under Their pots is first class for growth and allows the water to evaporate around Them for equal distribution. If you have only a few Tulasis, then simply take a large tub or pan, fill it with perlite rocks, place slats over the top, and place Her Divine Grace on the slats. Water pots simply left around the room or on top of a heater or radiator are ineffectual. If She is not getting enough moisture, the symptoms are that She wi11 become a little limp, and brown spots and smudges wi1l appear at the tip and along Her center veins in the leaves. One cure is to apply the above method and if that is already in practice, try this. Make a frame of coat hanger or other thick wire over Her pot and Blissful Self. Cover the frame with a tinted plastic bag. (No extra endeavor needed for tinting, simply purchase a brown or tan trash 1iner bag at the store. The reason for the tint is to filter out some of the harsh sun rays (if you don't, the enclosed heat will probably kill Her. Then place moist sponges inside the covered frame on the ground level and also at the top. The moisture will evaporate and add to the humidity. Leave Her in shaded light or only morning sun.


II. Soil and Drainage

The best soil is homemade, that is to say not some combination purchased in a store, but mixed by hand from local ingredients. The symptoms of good soil are a dark color and rich smell. (I am the original fragrance of the earth). The soil should hold its shape somewhat if pressed into a clod in the fist. Earth worms are another good sign. Obtain some cow manure and allow it to set for 2 weeks, so the nitrogen content can dissipate. Otherwise, it is so strong that it would burn the tender roots. Spread the manure out and water it thoroughly. Every few days turn it over so that the manure underneath the pile is exposed to the sun. (Krishna is like the sun, pure and antiseptic.) Better to buy already composted cow manure than to chance a bad root burn-- unless one is experienced at composting, etc. Earth worms can be purchased also, but worms are for gardens. When put in pots, they may damage roots. For your basic humus or plain old soil, find a garden that is producing profuse flowers and ask to borrow a quantity of soil. Add a little sand to improve the soil's draining. Never use salty sand, as salt kills plants. If using beach sand, wash it thoroughly before using. Also add a small quantity of vermiculite or perlite.


III. Potting and Transplanting

The following is a most successful and easy way for propagating seeds and transplanting seedlings:

  1. Buy a "Jiffy Grower Seed Starter Kit" 98 (or similar brand) at a garden store. This kit consists of small peat-moss seed cups arranged like an egg-carton, with seedbed soil pre-mixed and sifted. (Make sure they contain no bone material.) Simply fill the cups with soil mix and moisten (according to package directions) and press the Tulasi seeds into the soil about 1/16" deep, about 6 seeds per cup. Keep in warm sunny room, avoiding temperature changes, out of strong drafts, and away from gas fumes. The alternative to buying this kit is to mix and sift 1 part compost, 1 part loam, and 2 parts clean river sand (unsalted): sift into seed flat or peat moss pots and water from beneath-- don't sprinkle them (washes seeds). This is actually more expensive, time-consuming, and not as successful as the Seed Starter Kit, however.

  2. The first Tulasi sprouts should appear in 6 or 7 days, and will continue appearing for several weeks. Keep the plastic seed-germination bag from pressing down on the seedlings - prop it up inside with sticks if necessary. When the seedlings are 1/2'' tall, the seed cups can be separated and each transferred to a bigger pot. (It is expected that some of the cups will have sprouts sooner than others. Just take out the sprouted cups and leave the unsprouted cups undisturbed in the plastic tray and bag. Each week or so, add a little tepid water to the bottom of the plastic seed pan if necessary, in order to keep the remaining unsprouted cups moist.)

  3. Buy a dozen 4" or 6" deep peat moss pots and some good planter soil-mix. (If you mix your own planter soil, use 2 parts sifted loam, 1 part clean river sand (unsalted) and 1 part sifted peat moss or leaf mold. Generally It should be slightly fertile, light with good drainage. There is no objection to mixing your own-- it's cheaper; but these peat moss pots are very nice as they give good ventilation, and simplify the eventual transplanting job. (1/16 part aged manure).

  4. In late afternoon, in a wind protected spot (preferably just in the vicinity of the seed-kit so there'll be no temperature changes) sit down equipped with knife, a few handfuls of rocks, water bottle, lots of tepid water, peat moss pots and soil mix. The idea is to simply put the sprouted seed cups into deeper pots, for more root-growing room; plant the whole cup; just remove the bottom of the cup. Begin by lining the bottom of the 4" peat pots with rocks for drainage; wet the soil mix thoroughly and fill the peat pots, leaving a depression for the seed cup to enter. With knife, carefully remove bottom of peat moss seed cup. Set the whole seed cup down into the moist depression, pressing down firmly on all sides to eliminate air gaps, and water thoroughly making a moat around the planted cup, but avoid direct watering into the seedling cup. (Direct watering may disturb seeds that are still germinating on the surface of the seed cup.  Use a gentle squirt bottle and tepid (not cold or hot) water. Never hit the tiny seedlings directly with the water stream. (If by accident you do, pick them up and try to prop Her up with soil, very gently. A thoroughly rinsed dish detergent bottle (plastic) with a punctured top makes a good watering bottle, having a gentle stream. When finished, leave the pots in same vicinity as seed kit. Place the pots 2 or 3 inches apart on "oven racks" or the like, so that they get good air circulation and drainage from beneath, and sides. Allow light but no direct sun exposure.

  5. In a few days, gradually introduce them to filtered sunlight (or only a few morning hours, 8:30-11:30), say under a tree outdoors, or under a lath-screen. (This is assuming the weather is nice and nights aren't severely cold.  Arrange the pots as above, on an oven rack, or on an old bed-spring, with one pot in each wire spiral (this also gives good insect protection). Shield them from sun and wind. Protection from wind may be afforded by attaching paraffin cloth, burlap, muslin, or plywood, to stakes, building a 4-sided box. Then fiberglass or aluminum window-screen can be tacked to the box edge, giving protection from sparrows, birds, and flying insects. (Flies are especially bad-- they lay eggs in the leaves. Protect with screen.)

  6. Water the Tulasi seedlings thoroughly each morning before prasadam, using tepid water bottle. Keep a large pot of tepid water nearby for refilling the water bottle, as they should be kept nicely moist. If the seedlings start turning purplish or grayish, then they're getting too much sun and not enough water. If this happens keep them in shade for a few days till they recover, else they may wither and disappear.

  7. Care for the seedlings regularly in the above manner, offering obeisances and circumambulating twice daily and in a few weeks they will develop 2 or  more sets of leaves. Then, if  you have pots bearing more than one seedling (and you probably will), you have to plan on separating them by transplanting each into a separate peat moss pot (4" to 6 deep). This separation transplanting is difficult but it is necessary. So prepare the required number of peat moss pots as described in paragraphs #3 and # 4, and in late afternoon equip yourself with peat pots, a knife, spade, rocks, soil mix, water bottle and lots of tepid water.  Important: The seedlings must be put one to a pot as soon as possible after they have 2 sets of leaves.   Before hand be sure to water the pots to be transplanted thoroughly.  This makes the soil stick more to the roots, protecting them while transplanting, the idea is to avoid breaking and losing the seedling's roots, to transplant as quickly as possible because even momentary root exposure to air and wind is damaging, and to keep as much moist soil as possible around the roots. After thorough watering, begin by cutting an inch or so deep into the peat pot, dividing it into two or more sections, depending on the number of seedlings. Start sections by cutting, then carefully pull the sections apart, trying to avoid root breakage and exposure as far as possible. Immediately plant the sections in the newly prepared peat pots, pressing down firmly and filling more with moist soil as needed, and water thoroughly several times. (Two devotees working together can do this part more quickly.  Press soil around the plants firmly to eliminate drying air pockets, and water  thoroughly several times. Full shade and increased watering should continue for 3 days, and longer if they wilt.  If you do it quickly and carefully, there will be little or no wilting or drying up.

  8. Cover the screened bed with cloth to provide shade. After 3 days of shade and double watering, gradually introduce them to filtered sunlight and continue caring for them as in paragraphs 4 and 5. Continue this program for 2 or 3 weeks, until they have 3 or 4 sets of leaves. When more leaves have appeared, you may check periodically to see if any tiny white rootlets are coming through the bottoms of the pots. (One of the advantages of peat moss pots, aside from easy transplant, is that the roots never become cramped, thus dwarfing the plant. When the pot becomes too small, the roots start growing right through it.  When you begin to see the roots coming through the bottom, it's time to put the Tulasi plants in their permanent location, either in the garden or in a large pot.

  9. Transplanting into Pots: It is advisable to put a few plants in pots for the winter, especially if you're located in a cold climate. Large 10-12" deep cement pots or redwood planters are porous and very sturdy; clay pots are porous but break easily; plastic pots are non-porous and not very good. Indoors in cold season with use of a grow-lamp you should be able to continue growing Tulasi plants year-round, so use durable and large pots. Cement and redwood pots usually have little "legs" beneath, for drainage and air circulation, which is very important. Soil Mix: Give Srimati Tulasi-devi a very nice planter soil-mix and She'll grow and flourish nicely. You can either buy a ready-mixed packaged planter soil, or mix your own. A good planter mix is 2 parts garden loam (more or less depending on whether soil is light or heavy in texture), 1 part compost, 1 part coarse sand (clean and unsalted), 1 part peat moss or leaf mold, and 1 part well-rotted dehydrated cow manure. (Cow manure must be dehydrated; fresh cow manure will burn roots, so  buy dehydrated manure in garden store, or carefully age it before using.) Drainage: Be sure the pot drains freely. Place a curved piece of crockery (broken clay pot) over the drainage hole, then line bottom of pot with 1 or 2 inches of coarse gravel, so that dirt will neither sift through holes nor clog them. Potting procedure: In late afternoon, prepare cement or redwood pot as above, and fill it with moist soil mix, leaving depression in center of pot. water Tulasi to be potted. Then with knife, carefully remove bottom of Tulasi 's peat moss pot, and set peat pot and Tulasi (together) down into the depression, pressing firmly so there will not by any air pockets. Leave about 1 inch of pot rim above dirt surf ace, for ease in watering water thoroughly by soaking pot in basin from below.  Care of Tulasi in Pots: The safest thing is to water thoroughly when necessary and allow plant to take up the moisture, or, water lightly each morning. This is dependent on climate, etc. Try not to over-water or under-water. Light: Tulasi likes full sun so give Her a sunny window. Or, if there's no sunshine, buy a plant lamp and grow Her year-round beneath it. But don't suddenly take Tulasi outside on a sunny day. The shock from the contrast would be very great and could have a damaging effect. Cleansing Her Leaves: House dust is another factor in indoor cultivation. Leaves covered with a film of dust cannot carry on transpiration in the normal manner. To keep them dust free, clean the leaves-- top and bottom-- with a damp cloth or sponge, twice a month. Do this very very gently especially in the beginning when plants are very delicate ~ Leaves should always be cleansed after the muddy job of transplanting. Never use soap or oil of any kind on the leaves, except as directed under "Diseases" section, and rinse off when you do.

  10. To Prepare a bed for Tulasi outdoors, locate it in full sun, and construct a wind protection box and screen for keeping out unwanted birds and flying insects. Tulasi likes light, fertile, well-drained soil, slightly alkaline, and deeply cultivated. Find out what kind of soil you have, and add the required soil amendments. For example, if soil is too heavy, and clay-like, add leaf mold, compost, sand and sawdust. In any case, mix in good quantities of dehydrated cow manure, compost and leaf mold or peat moss, then cultivate thoroughly. Transplanting into the ground: In late afternoon, equipped with knife, spade, water, measuring stick,  dig 4-6" holes (the size of the peat pots ) spacing them 12" apart in rows 15-18" apart. Fill the holes with water and let drain somewhat. Then, one by one, carefully remove the peat pot's bottom, and set the whole pot and Tulasi down into the hole, pressing firmly and watering again and again. There should be no problem in this setting out, since you don't have to disturb the roots in any way. Keep Her in partial shade several days and gradually expose to full sun. Cultivate ground every week or so, keeping free from weeds. Water regularly each morning, and She'll grow like anything. Haribol!

    Note: These peat pots are very advantageous for growing plants more quickly, with less transplant set-back, but great care must be taken in handling them as they break and tear very easily. If you always pick them up with both hands, there'll be little problem. If the bottom does fall out of one, however, do this: get a new peat pot and line the bottom with gravel fill it 2" or so with soil mix, and set the bottomless pot down into it, pressing firmly but carefully.

By transplanting Her there is always the danger of exposing Her roots to the air. This causes them to dry and wilt. The answer is to always keep sufficient dirt around the roots. They will form what is known as a root ball. Also there is one root, called the tap root which descends straight down from the stalk and is the longest and most important. If this root is broken there is a good chance the Tulasi will depart, so always be sure to dig down far enough. (That will usually be the same distance as the height of the tree from the soil.) It is best to transplant in the afternoon, after 4 p.m. or on a cloudy day that is not very hot. Never transplant in heat of day.

As She grows, Her roots will fill the pot, and at that point She will have to be transplanted again. This will be a perpetual duty, and as She grows you will have the blissful opportunity to move Her. The new pots should be 2 to 2 1\2 times the size of the root ball (cluster of roots). Take the chance to straighten Her if She is growing crooked, but be careful not to plant Her lower or higher than She was situated early as this will cause disease. Too high will mold Her stem, lower will cause Her to be unstable and to expose Her roots to rot and mold. No matter how careful you are, there's always some shock and transplant setback. Thus, why transplant repeatedly?? If you put the tiny 6" or 7" plant in a giant pot full of good soil, it may look funny for awhile, but

She'll appreciate the leg room and grow much more rapidly and be a healthier plant than if you repeatedly disturb her root systems by numerous periodic transplants. If you put Tulasi in too large a pot, Her roots will slow down their growth and root disease may set in. It is best to transplant gradually.

When plants are a little taller, for wind protection and to give them stability, drive a thin stake into the ground 1" or so beside stalk base, and loosely tie stalk to it with a to thin strip of soft cotton cloth (a strip at least 1" wide). Tie it loosely and in a place where it won't obstruct growth of new leaves. This gives the slender delicate stalk good support, even in wind, and makes for more rapid growth. In a few months, the stalk is no more soft and purple, but becomes hard and woody, like a little tree. Still if the area is windy, best to leave the support stake in permanently.

SECTION TWO

IV. Water & Feeding

V. Manjaris, Flowers & Seeds

VI. Pruning


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