Enter Malini’s Organic Punchi Wattha | Daily News

Enter Malini’s Organic Punchi Wattha

Namel Malini Punchi Theatre located in Borella is a popular destination for theatre lovers. But not many know that atop this tower in the balcony of an apartment shared by the Weeramuni couple is a thriving home garden maintained by Malini Weeramuni.

Green Thumbs speaks to Malini Weeramuni on her home garden located in the heart of Borella which is completely natural and organic.

Weeramuni calls her garden, “Malini’s Organic Punchi Wattha”. Weeramuni began her labour of love around three months ago. For Weeramuni it has been a source of endless pleasure due to the fact that during Covid19, she was restricted to her apartment atop the tower. It stimulated her mind and it was a recreational physical activity. Like many who live in Colombo she realized that she did not have garden space. Indeed, this is a problem many people have. However, the concept of having a home garden in your balcony is growing popular by the day in Sri Lanka. So Weeramuni told herself – “Why not? Why can’t I have a home garden in the clouds?”. The idea germinated in her mind and she began her adventure.


Malini Weeramuni. Picture by Dayan Witharana

“I grow several varieties of chillies in my garden like bell pepper. I also grow cauliflower, green and red cabbages, malu miris, three varieties of Batu, herbs, Tomatoes, Bandakka, mukunuwanna, gotukola, nivithi (spinach) kankun and sarana. Every morning when I walk into my balcony and see my garden flourishing with 100 percent organic plants, to me it is a form of mental therapy. You see the hustle and bustle of Borella is right outside our door when you step out of Namel Malini Punchi Theatre Borella. So having a bountiful supply of fresh food in the form of nutritious vegetables give me such satisfaction. And also it helps both me and my husband stay healthy and happy,” explained Weeramuni.

We know that our economy is going through rapid changes. It is on TV and in the newspapers. She points out that having your own home garden is something like a safety net. If you can’t step out due to curfew at least you have a supply of food. If there is inflation at least you have a supply of food in your home garden. The money you have to spend on vegetables can be used for other purposes. When you pick up ripe and juicy vegetables, you feel secure.

Not only is growing vegetables part of the process of keeping fit, the task of controlling pests in the garden is also a form of exercise. Why? Spending more time in your home garden is also important because mechanical removal is the best way to control your pests. It is just hand picking. When we see signs of pest attack we must remove and destroy that part of the plant. For example, snails and slugs are known to inhabit home gardens that are at a high elevation. And the Weeramuni apartment is at a high elevation. So all of this is valuable exercise.

Weeramuni points out that her day starts with the Punchi Wattha, feeding and watering the plants. This itself creates a bond with the plants. Trees and plants actually communicate with each other. For example, we know that if some disease attacks one side of the forest, then those trees communicate that message to the other side of the forest through root systems and through canopies. If trees can do that, then think of what plants can do when a human being interacts with them?

“My day starts with the Punchi Wattha feeding and watering the plants. It is not an easy task. It is very difficult and challenging to maintain. I spend most of my time keeping an eye on their growth. Health is important to me and I want my plants to be healthy.”

Weeramuni wants to share her wealth with everyone. And when she says ‘everyone’ she means those who really need the kind of recreation a home garden can provide. And these are our elders in elders home/ retirement homes. Most of them are idling. If more people were aware of the amazing health benefits gardening can offer to residents of elders homes it could make a huge difference.

“I wish I could create an organic Punchi Wattha in our elders Homes. I have observed a lack of physical activity in their daily routine. If we could only encourage these elderly people to engage in gardening as a hobby it could make a huge difference in their lives. One reason I started my Punchi Wattha was so I could grow organic vegetables in ‘coco peat grow bags’. It is so convenient as these bags are usable. If they could make growing Organic Vegetables in ‘coco peat grow bags’ a hobby, it could help a lot. Then, I am sure they will be very happy. Because when gardening becomes something personal it really improves your life. Growing your own vegetables for meals really is a process of empowerment,” explained Weeramuni.

She concluded by saying that introducing a project like this will be a great blessing and merit. She says that hopefully somebody will come along and make her dream come true.


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