Archive for soap nuts

Soap Nuts

Posted in Fruits of our labor with tags , , , , on December 8, 2010 by PickMeYard

A friend of mine  told me how wonderful her hair would feel after she washed it when she was a child in India.  She explained to me that her entire family would wash everything, including their bodies, hair, clothes and house with one thing… soap nuts.  I practically jumped out of my chair as she described them.  Why have I never heard of them?  They sound so incredible and I’ve never even heard of them.

I don’t like the crazy ingredients that are in modern shampoos, but I sure like the way they make my hair feel.  Natural shampoos strip my hair color and make it feel like straw.  It’s a terrible feeling to me.  However, it doesn’t stop me from always trying the latest shampoo that doesn’t use the endless list of chemicals.  I was really hoping that soap nuts (Sapindus) were the shampoo I’ve been waiting for all my life.

Turns out, soap nuts can be used to wash our faces, bodies, hair and especially clothing.  They can be used in modern washing machines.  All this without a single weird chemical or additives of any kind.  It seemed too good to be true.  I ordered some.  Okay, I ordered a lot.  I had a good feeling about them.

A bag of soap nuts from Greener Living.

The back of the soap nut bag.

I’ve been using them  for a while now.  They don’t work well on my hair.  They turn my hair into the horrible straw hair that I dislike.  However, I have permanently damaged, fine hair.  If I had thick, uncolored and undamaged hair, it might be a different story.  I didn’t love them as a skin detergent either… too drying.  I really like the way they smell though.  Although, I’ve read their aroma is offensive to some.  I don’t understand that.   

The easiest way to use soap nuts is to tie them in a bag.

A handful of soap nuts.

They hit the sweet spot with our laundry.  To be honest, I didn’t use them on my clothing for a long time.  I felt unsure about using them in the washing machine even though I’d read it was perfectly fine.  It took being out of  laundry detergent for me to give them a try.  I’m so glad I did.   Our clothes feel so clean and strangely soft.  I didn’t think they would work well on my husband’s dirty work clothes, but they proved me wrong.  For another perspective on soap nuts in the laundry, click here.

I wish we were tropical enough to grow one of these trees.  They’re actually a fruit even though they’re called nuts.  You’ve got to admit they’re pretty cool.

A close-up.

Inside a soap nut.

Come grow with us!

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A Doctor’s Garden

Posted in Inspiration with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 11, 2010 by PickMeYard

Dr. Udayashree Nune is a family practitioner in Clewiston, Florida.  She’s originally from South India and comes from a family of doctors.  She speaks fluent Arabic, English and  the Indian dialect, Telugu.  She is a doctor of internal medicine, an OB/Gyn who has delivered thousands of babies in India, Libya and the U.S. …. and she’s a gardener

Her family history is absolutely intriguing.  Udaya’s life story is one that I will never forget.  As a little girl growing up in India, she had a series of events happen to her that sounds like the script of a movie.  When she told her mother that she didn’t want to live on a dirt floor anymore and asked what she needed to do, her mother replied that she should become a doctor.  So she did.  Her career started that very moment. 

It was a long, difficult road for her that  had many obstacles.  She sacrificed eating lunch and dinner so that she could use the money for transportation to school instead.  Transportation consisted of  many hours and many buses to get where she needed to go.  Udaya overcame so many trials and tribulations…  most people would have given up.  She didn’t and she still doesn’t.   

Dr. Nune comes from a culture that is so different from mine.  She knows how to maximize her resources and appreciates the little things that I tend to take for granted  (like water always coming out of the faucet.)  She always shows me something new that I’ve never heard of before.  So far, she’s turned me onto Indian yogurt, curry leaves, soap nuts, neem, gongura, drumstick soup,   seagrape leaf dinnerware  and numerous other cool things.

So what does a doctor grow in her garden?

She grows fresh curry leaves and makes delicious meals with them.

Aloe.

Cucumber/zucchini looking vegetable called tindora fry.

Tindora fry (Dondakaya kura).

I know what you're thinking... and it's not what you're thinking. It's gongura.

Lots of eggplant.

Moringa tree. It's called a drumstick tree in India.

Baby neem trees peeking out from under a potted eucalyptus.

Some of Dr. Nune's backyard.

She germinates her seeds under a large patch of banana trees.

Dr. Nune is growing Florida peaches, apples, papaya, bananas, figs, citrus, tamarind, curry, moringa and many other edibles… all on just over a quarter acre lot.  I’ll have to do another post on all the wonderful things she has introduced into my life.  The drumstick soup,  tindora fry,  soap nuts, neem and gongura are a few of my favorites.  When she told me the stories about washing with soap nuts as a little girl in India, I had to find out all about them.  We both ordered some online and we’re using them  successfully.

Gongura is new to me.  My kids and I just love the freshly picked leaves. Dr. Nune likes to stir-fry, pickle and steam them.  When she steams them she puts two green chilis into the water.  If Dr. Nune  ever opened restaurant, there’d be a line around the block to get in.  She makes everything taste delicious!

Her back yard is filled with fruit trees, vegetables and many varieties of pepper plants peeking out from under the trees.  But… her front yard is  filled with flowers.  She is clearly a woman who appreciates the beauty of flowers, from roses to impatiens and everything in between.

Dancing lady orchids.

Ixoras.

She has a large collection of hibiscus.

Her garden art. Were you expecting a flamingo?

Just a few of her flowers.

Dr. Nune next to her gongura plant. I should have asked her to flip her hair over her shoulder... it's down to her waist!

Dr. Nune is one of the most intuitive and open-minded persons I have ever met.  She is also one of the strongest, hardest working women I’ve ever met… next to my mother. 

She never gives up and loves a challenge.  Her personality is infectious and we all love and adore her.  

Come grow with us!