When faces of family members light up on seeing the things I have brought from farm I know I have been a good Sunday farmer. This Sunday my two bags were full of huge raw papayas, dudhi, karela, a bundle lemon grass, tulsi leaves, kari patta and flowers, namely aboli, temple tree and champa, and when I emptied the bags and heard them exclaim: “Oh, so many of them” I realized it has been worth indulging in farming by remote on five days and soiling my hands on weekend.
Last summer I had dudhi on my farm, huge ones which I gave away to friends and relatives. This summer it has been the season of papayas, the four trees which came on its own–the seed possibly carried by the wind or arrived with the cow dung–has yielded lots of fruits. The papayas are not the hybrid kind but a local variety which when ripe is not so pleasing to the eye but once cut and the fruit eaten you know the difference. I have realised that my farm is suitable for papayas.
Every time I cut a ripe one I save the seeds; clean them under running water, spread them on a newspaper sheet and put them in shade. Three days later I mix it with it dry leaf ash and store them in a plastic container after spreading fungicide powder over it. I have saved enough seeds and can grow a forest of papayas! I’m planning to give them away free to anyone who asks for it.
I hope to grow around 100 plants on my farm along with bananas. With papaya saplings costing Rs 20 per piece I can count my savings.
The idea to grow papayas came from Ananta Jeurkar, a friend and a Sholapur-based farmer whom I have known since long. In the past he has grown pomegranate and bhor, and presently grows grapes and papayas in a place where irrigation is done by drip, the Israeli method.
Come August, I plan to sow the papaya seeds and wait for another seven months to fruit.