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How to Plant Tulasi Seedling

How to plant Tulasi SeedlingIf any questions, please contact IoHU at HbgVedic@yahoo.com

The following is the most successful and the easiest way found 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. So all you have to do is 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 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 (12 for 79¢) 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, few handfuls of rocks, water bottle (described herein), 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 scream. (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 better yet, an old bare bed- springs is the ideal thing- -one pot in each wire spiral - -this also gives good insect protection. Shield them from sun and wind. Protection from wind maybe 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, mynah 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 . After 3 days of shade (simply cover the screened bed with cloth to provide 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 hare 3 or 4 sets of leaves. When more leaves have appeared, you may check periodically to see if any tiny white rootless 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 your center is 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 "plant-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-- which is just as good, done properly, and cheaper.  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. ) Drainage: Be sure the pot drains freely.  Place 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 them a sunny window. Or, if there's no sunshine, buy a "plant lamp" and grow them year-round beneath it. But don't suddenly take them 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  (rinse off when you do )

 - 10. Outdoor Planting of Tulasi: To Prepare a bed for the Tulasi outdoors, located in full sun, and construct 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. So find out what kind
of soil you have, and add the required soil amendments. (for example, if soil is too heavy, and clay like, you add leaf mold, compost, sand and sawdust.) But 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 y 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 them in partial shade several days and gradually expose them to full sun. Cultivate ground every week or so, keeping free from weeds. Water regularly each morning, and they'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.

Additional Notes:

If Jiffy grower seed starter kits are not available in your area, then you can get pre-sifted planter soil mix, and put it into small peat moss pots, then cover with a piece of perforated plastic bag by means of a rubber band. And water from below.

Sec. 10. 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.

Srila Prabhupada said there are two kinds of Tulasi, Rama Tulasi which is greener, and Krishna Tulasi which is purple. The type we have got is Rama Tulasi, He said. Srila Prabhupada said also there will be little fruits shaped like temples in a  year or so. Now, there are flower stalks, which He called Manjari. His Divine Grace also mentioned that in India, in temple courtyards, there are always Tulasi growing. In temple courtyards they also grow in a 3' pillar that is like a big pot, and Srimati Tulasi-devi is worshipped regularly by the devotees. Especially in villages, the women take very nice care of the Tulasi plant. They water and offer obeisances and circumambulate in the morning. and in the evening they offer lamp and incense, like arati. He said if arati can be done that is very nice; She is great devotee and they offer respect. And She is very, very important necessary paraphernalia in our worship.

His Divine Grace said the plants will continue to grow for about 5 years.  

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