The monks celebrate the first vine ripened tomatoes produced by the newest greenhouse. As you can see, the plants are rapidly coming to fruition.
Planting, growing and harvesting our greenhouse produce is now a normal part of the monastery schedule. As the structures for hydroponic farming, aka climate-controlled agriculture, expand and settle in we find new varieties of foods that we never thought could come from our own gardens. The monastery's first successful harvest of hydroponic zucchini barreled into the kitchen just yesterday and became a delectable fare. Our cook for the day sautéed the zucchini in a sage/rosemary and black pepper butter sauce and piled on baked sweet potato, garlic and onion. hmmm good.
Of course this is only the beginning and many more foods are to come. But the real question on everyone's mind is, when do we try our first homegrown tomato-basil pizza? Oh my.
To end last phase with a bang, the Siddhidata Kulam worked all afternoon to create a feast for their brother monks in honor of Thai Pongal. The harvest festival was decorated with a grand shrine in the middle of the kitchen, sugar-cane arch and as many fresh fruits and veggies plucked from the gardens as possible. Of course sweet rice and vadai overflowed in abundance, with colorful dal and veggie dishes as well. We hope you had a sweet Pongal and that your rice boiled over in the auspicious direction.
As some of you may remember, the Siddhidata Kulam built a hydroponic greenhouse that has been producing amazing veggies for the monks sustenance--and saying amazing doesn't do these melt-in-your-mouth foods justice.
The operation has been going so well it is time for a small addition to the building for more challenging varieties of foods! Here we capture the foundational work needed for the floor to be complete.
After several months of trial and error, the monks have learned a system to successfully grow Shitake mushrooms. Shitake mushrooms have many great health benefits as well as being quite tasty!
After having several of these fascinating cactus plants in the aadheenam gardens for more than a few years, we've finally had one of them fruit. Just recently our monks found this bulky dragon fruit on one of these unique climbing cacti. And it was TASTY! This, usually subtle, airy-sweet fruit was full of tasty natural sugars which several monks were able to enjoy. We hope to see more of these colorful treats next time the plant fruits.
Recently Sannyasin Yoginathaswami and Nirvani Tejadevanatha returned from a trip to California. The two travelers were there to attend a two day seminar presented by AmHydro of Eureka, CA. The seminar focused on bringing a total beginner in Hydroponics up to speed with strong knowledge and practical experience. The first day of the seminar was held at the Ingomar Club, a victorian style building in the Bay Area. This building was ornately constructed with amazing wood work. While there, our monks were given an overview of the Hydroponic industry, general plant growth and the science behind growing. As well as information on the components of a successful greenhouse.
The second day took place at a working greenhouse (Humbolt Hydro farms). This Hydroponic Greenhouse was truly amazing. It has a fully automated nutrient feeding system and a fully automated climate control system that opens and closes cooling vents as needed. Our monks were given step by step hands-on experience in planting seeds, transplanted seedlings and harvesting lettuce. Nutrient managements with discussed at great length. The final presentation was quite interesting and was focused on marketing and starting a hydroponic business. In our case we simply plan on producing food for the monastery. Our thanks to Am Hydro for educating and inspiring Yoginathaswami and Tejadevanatha.
Before returning to the monastery Swami and Nirvani had the opportunity to see some huge red wood trees in Humbolt Redwood state park, feeling very small when standing next to these majestic trees. The two then walked on the Golden Gate Bridge.
That evening Swami performed a Siva Puja for the Golden Gate Mission church members. Everyone enjoyed a short meditation and then Swami gave an update about Iraivan temple construction. Swami touched on the importance of daily puja and the esoterics behind it. The members cooked a vegan feast. Thank you Golden Gate Mission for taking such loving care of our monks. Mahalo Nui Loa Aum Namah Sivaya.
The Siddhidata Kulam successfully harvested the first batch of monastery corn today, bringing in a total of twenty-five pounds. During the past three months the stalks have been growing in our lower garden, waiting patiently to flower, fruit and develop. While not the first ever corn production for us, it has been years since the monks have seen corn pass through the kitchen!
The Siddhidata Kulam has completed the hydroponic tent, along with all of the small sheds surrounding the area, and installed the Annapurna Garden Ganesha in the new facility. Our vision is to one day leave the planting of the soil and grow completely in this new system--in the future. For now we must run tests, collect data and actually grow veggies to determine what our highest yield crops will be and what is most logical, practical and edible. Enjoy the slideshow detailing the installation puja and first seed planting.
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