Little farmer Sasrutha | Sunday Observer

Little farmer Sasrutha

23 August, 2020

S.N. Sasrutha Nayanathul Dias is ten-years-old and lives in Pannala with his mother, Ruchira Perera and his maternal grandparents, Lakshman Perera and Sheela Biyanwila. His father, Nissanka Dias is a banker in Qatar. Sasrutha is a Grade 6 student at Sussex College, Kuliyapitiya and has taken to home gardening during the lockdown. The Junior Observer had a chat with this little farmer.



Q: How did you become interested in home gardening?


A: My father shared with me Dhammika Perera’s autobiography video and I watched it with my mother. It was a great motivation for me during lockdown. So, I decided to do home gardening to avoid buying contaminated vegetables, fruits and to earn money for my studies by selling the excess harvest.


Q: Please tell us how you created your home garden?


A: At the beginning my mother and my grandfather (Seeya Thaththa) helped me to start it. We also got some ideas from the Internet to develop my home garden.


Q: From where do you get the plants and seeds?


A: I started home gardening during the Covid-19 lockdown. I couldn’t go anywhere to buy seeds or baby plants but there were seed packets that my mother had bought earlier. There were Raddish, long beans, kankun and chilli seed packets. I found dried winged beans and its seeds. I collected some seeds from kitchen waste. Including tomato, bitter gourd and bottle gourd, cucumber and pumpkin.

During my last vacation I brought some cantaloupe seeds from Qatar.

After the lockdown my mother and I went to a plant nursery. We brought packets of beans, onions, ladies fingers, ridge gourd seeds and brought young beetroot, eggplant and spine gourd (thumba karavila) and guava plants.


Q: How do you prepare the ground for planting?


A: My Seeya Thatha made me a small mammoty. Using this mammoty I dug pits and mixed the soil with compost to plant the seeds and baby plants in the ground.

After a few days I realised that the ground soil was not so fertile. Then I had to use polythene pots to grow the plants and seeds.

I know polythene pollutes the environment but I try to minimise environmental pollution. I have 152 polythene vegetable pots and 15 cement pots. I used 1:1 compost and ground soil mixture for filling the pots.


Q: What were the first crops you planted?


A: Long beans, winged beans and cantaloupe.


Q: How did you feel when you saw the first seedlings sprout or come up?


A: In my science lessons I had learnt about seed germination. But it was only theory and I did not have an actual idea about it. But now when I’m farming I saw the seeds slowly germinating and I felt so happy.


Q: What was your first harvest?


A: My first harvest was long beans. It takes two months for long beans to mature and to be harvested.


Q: What were your feelings when you saw it?


A: When I wake up I go to my garden and I talk to every plant. One day, I saw a very small long bean. I was surprised and took a photo to send it to my father. It was a great pleasure for me and I decided to grow more plants. So, my first harvest motivated me to grow more plants.


Q: Are you an organic farmer?


A: Yes, I am.


Q: What type of fertiliser do you use?


A: Compost is used as a solid fertiliser. Other than that I use liquid fertiliser. My mother and I made a compost bin. We made liquid fertiliser using ripe banana peel. Compost is used twice a week and liquid fertiliser is used once a week.


Q: Why do you farm the organic way?


A: It is known that food grown organically is rich in nutrition and non organic food is harmful to our health. For this reason, I became an organic farmer.


Q: Currently, what varieties of fruits and vegetables have you grown? How many varieties have yielded a harvest so far?


A: I have radish, long beans, beans, bitter gourd, snake gourd, ridge gourd, spine gourd, bottle gourd, cucumber, snake cucumber, winged beans, cow pea, eggplant and tomatoes. I planted some potatoes and it has leafy buds growing now. Long beans, winged beans, beans, bitter gourd, snake gourd, cucumber, ladies fingers, tomatoes, radish and cow pea are giving me a harvest at present.

Strawberry, grapes, guava, banana and mulberry are the fruit plants I have. I have grown more turmeric plants to get turmeric powder.


Q: How do you protect your plants from animals, birds and other pests?


A: I use organic pesticides each week for my plants and keep alternating them every week. These pesticides are made by my mother and I.

We used two types of pesticides which are kohomba (margosa oil) and soap water and onion and garlic peel with chopped garlic. Every day, I carefully observe each plant and remove caterpillars. Sugary traps are used for bugs and ants.


Q: Who helps you in gardening?


A: My mother helps me the most with my grandparents.