Tulsi also known as Sacred Basil or Holy Basil is a perennial herb that can be grown in the subtropics and the tropics. It is grown for it’s medicinal properties, as a culinary herb, and by the Hindus for religious and ceremonial purposes. As well as being a perennial edible plant it is also incredible bee forage almost full time. Most plants flower for a certain time of the year and then the bees need to find another source of pollen but the Tulsi bushes seem to be in perpetual flower year round.
Joel Orchard from Future Feeders mainly grows the plants for the bees and in the film clip he mentioned that the medicinal properties of the essential oils possibly being beneficial for the health of the bees and the hive in general.
I’ve cooked tulsi in my winter soups, stir fries and to add a kick of a flavour to anything that needs it. It’s definitely edible, delicious but it’s got quite a powerful kick so go easy on it to start.
It has a long tradition of being used for tea simply steep leaves in boiling water. Seeing as it’s a perennial herb and always in the garden (if you live in a warm enough climate to grow it) I’d say go with the fresh leaves for the full effect.
The cultures in India that grow and use Tulsi use it for a whole long list of ailments. Coughs, sore throat, fever, helps with eye disorders, insect bites…on it goes. Joel used a word that I wasn’t familiar with to categorise the Tulsi bush as being adaptogenic. Apparently adaptogens support the immune system and help your body deal with stress. Both the Ayurvedic and the Chinese herbal medicine practices are onto these types of herbs. Interesting stuff and new to me. Tulsi is also quite high in antioxidants!
The reason I love meeting up with people like Joel and putting together little film clips is because I learn heaps and heaps of new things every time. My favourite bit was his method of propagating the tulsi bush that I’d never thought to use on a woody perennial herb.
His advise was to take a cutting from the bush, remove the flowers and some of the leaves (so the cutting isn’t too stressed out) and place it in a glass of water. Keep the cutting out of direct sun, maybe on a kitchen counter out of the way, and leave it for a week or two. If it’s warm enough (it’s best to propagate it in the warmer months) new roots will form. You can then pop that in a pot with some damp potting mix and away it goes! I went and collected a dozen or two tulsi cuttings to get them growing for the next Seed Saving event. It’s just too easy not to!
I think the next move after I get my tulsi plants growing strong is a bee hive. Seems like the next reasonable step, they seem to go together perfectly!
More videos on regenerative living at www.deepllivingproject.com.au