Growing rare fruit and vegetables in Sri Lanka

“I am a medical laboratory technologist working in government and private sector hospitals. Seven years ago at age 35, I got high blood pressure and I underwent a series of tests. Fortunately, nothing else was diagnosed. My doctor advised me to pursue a hobby and engage in activities which will help relieve stress.

I decided to take up gardening with the purpose of growing organic food for my family and keeping myself close to nature. We have 80 perches ( half acre ) of land in our back yard and I started with planting fruit trees. Today I grow more than 100 varieties of fruits including banana, pineapples, papaya, jujube, water apple, carambola, Bilimbi, cherries, pomegranate, jack fruit, guava, mangoes, tamarind, Indian gooseberry etc. Collecting rare fruit plants has become my hobby.

I also grow several herbs, medicinal plants, leafy greens and seasonal vegetables such as bitter gourd, snake gourd, tomatoes, beans, brinjals, okra, chillies etc. I am not selling any of my home grown produce. I give it away to my neighbours, friends, relatives and community friends.

Over the years, I have learned interesting techniques like grafting and layering. I have also learned how to control pests and conserve water. I have mostly used coconut husks for making all of the raised beds; they retain soil moisture well and eventually get composted. Many villagers come to see my garden; I share with them what I have learned about organic gardening and when they leave, they carry some knowledge and also free seeds and plants!

Lately I have developed a lot of interest in permaculture. I have read many articles and watched videos of permaculture gardens and I am hoping that I can soon implement permaculture principles in my yard.

I spend 3-4 hours each day working in the yard which has made me content, happy and healthy"