Love and Lust From the Garden

The month of February brings us the holiday of Valentine’s Day, a celebration of all things having to do with love and romance. And love and romance naturally lead to wanting to become intimate with one’s mate. Since time immemorial, men and women have searched for foods, potions, tonics, drugs, etc. that will enhance their ability to perform sexually and increase their enjoyment of it.

Would it surprise you to learn that some of the foods which enhance sexual desire and performance can be found in your very own garden? Here are a few.

Black raspberries – Black raspberries are rich in phytochemicals – biologically active compounds that play a role in a plant’s growth process, as well as defense against competitors, pathogens, or predators. Phytochemicals have also been shown to play a role in enhanced libido and sexual endurance (for the humans who consume them, not the plants themselves).

Pine nuts – Pine nuts are rich in arginine, one of the ten essential amino acids we need to consume so that our bodies can make the proteins it needs to function. Our bodies also convert some of our consumed arginine into nitric oxide, which helps dilate the blood vessels, improving blood flow throughout our bodies. This also includes the sex organs.

Avocados – Avocados contain an abundance of heart-healthy fats, vitamin B6 and folic acid, all of which help fuel the body and increase our energy. Vitamin B6 is an important ingredient for production of male sex hormones, which are important for a strong sex drive.

Watermelon – The citrulline in watermelon is converted into arginine, which is then converted into nitric oxide which stimulates blood vessel dilation – similar to what Viagra does, but for a whole lot less money.

Broccoli – Broccoli contains high levels of Indole-3-carbinol, which helps lower estrogen levels, and may have libido boosting effects in men.

Pumpkin seeds – Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of zinc (which has been shown in men to have a powerful effect on arousal and maintaining an erection) and arginine (which relaxes blood vessels)

Spinach, arugula, beets, cress, lettuce, celery, and radish – all contain nitrates, which like arginine, relax and dilate blood vessels, leading to improved blood flow and enhanced sexual arousal and performance.

We all know that gardening provides us with flavorful, nutritious food, fresh air, and exercise. Well now, I’ve just given you yet another reason to garden. And while you may not be able to grow these fruits and vegetables in time for Valentine’s Day, you now know what to buy at the grocery store or order in a restaurant for a romantic meal that will keep the works “down south” humming along like a well-oiled machine. And come springtime, you will now have a very good idea of what you’ll want to plant!


Birds Do It – Bees Do It – And Fruits, Vegetables, And Trees Do It

Yes, birds, bees, humans, and other higher forms of life, all do it – sexual intercourse, that is. But guess what? Plants are also doing it! Yes, you read that right. The beautiful flowers that delight our eyes and noses, the fruits and vegetables that delight out palates and sustain our bodies, and the majestic trees that provide us with shade and oxygen are all having sex!

Now I’ll leave it to the scientific researchers and philosophers to determine whether or not plants are capable of enjoying the act. But the mechanics of the act are well understood. The diagram below shows the plumbing in all its glory.

Flower Diagram

(source: Fruit & Nut Research & Information Center —

The anther (the parts that hold the pollen grains) and the stamens (the long stem-like structures that support the anthers) are the flowers’ male parts. The stigma, style, ovary, and ovules are the female parts. In order for the plant to reproduce, the pollen must come in contact with the stigma. Thanks to the stickiness of the stigma, the pollen is able to stick to the stigma. Once attached to the stigma, the pollen grows a tube down through the style, into the ovary, and then unites with the ovules. This causes one half of the chromosomal makeup of the species to unite with the other half, and a seed, bearing the plants full set of chromosomes is created. In some plants, the ovary will swell after fertilization, turning into the fruits and vegetables that humans and higher animals consume for food.

How does the pollen come in contact with the stigma? In some plants this is caused by the action of the wind (e.g. corn). For others, this pollination occurs before the plant comes into full flower (e.g. beans). But the vast majority of plants are pollinated through the action of insects, birds, or bats visiting the flowers to sip the sweet nectar they produce. This is critical for two reasons – 1) some plants have male and female structures that are on separate plants. If these plants were never visited by pollinators, then these plants would never be pollinated and the species would fail to reproduce and eventually die out. 2) Approximately 80-95% of the plant species found in natural habitats require biotic agent-mediated (bees, butterflies, moths, etc.) pollination. This includes many of the fruits and vegetable plants that produce the foods critical to human health. No pollinators = no plant sex = starving humans.

So if we want to keep the human species alive, healthy, and growing, we need to protect the biotic species that help plants to “get it on.”