Blooming out of mud

Lye Gaik Seng rowing a boat on the lotus pond at the Relau Agrotourism Centre to inspect the plants under his care.STAR PIC BY : Zainudin Ahad / The Star/ 26 Jan 2015

WHEN lotus grower Lye Gaik Seng first started out, he put fertiliser in the pond where he was growing lotus thinking that it would flower well.

But to his surprise, he found the water cabbages which were in the same pond, growing abundantly.

“Instead of having more lotus, I got plenty of water cabbage instead!

“Imagine my surprise. I had to spend the next couple of days clearing the pond of water cabbages,” said Lye, who added that it was certainly a lesson learned the hard way.

It was through such trial and error that Lye, 46, picked up the correct method of growing lotus.

The former cook and restaurant manager, who is leasing the pond at the Relau Agrotourism Centre, has been managing it since 2012.

“It involves a lot of hard work especially during harvest seasons and religious occasions such as on the first and 15th day of the lunar month when devotees of Guan Yin (Goddess of Mercy) need the lotus flowers for prayers,” he said when met at the pond on Monday.

Lye, who said that he could harvest up to 500 stalks of lotus flowers at any one time, supplies the flowers to florists in the state.

He got interested in the idea of having his own lotus pond when he visited the centre a few years ago.

“I was running a restaurant at the time and it was very stressful as I was managing the operations, doing the cooking and handling the staff.

“I longed for a stress-free lifestyle,” he added.

Lye said he had some knowledge about farming from his late father, which helped him with the lotus growing.

“My father fell sick in 2012 and I closed my restaurant business to look after him.

“It was during this time that I applied for permission from the centre to manage the pond,” he said.

Lye, who manages the pond all by himself, visits the place once in the morning and later in the evening.

In the mornings before it gets too hot, Lye will get to the pond to cut off dry and withered leaves or to harvest the lotus pods and seeds.

He explained that the lotus plant’s leaves can be used as wrapping for dishes, while the root is edible.

“The lotus seed has high medicinal value and can help reduce body heat,” he said.

Besides growing lotus, Lye is also a part-time medium.

“I love coming to the pond to spend time here to meditate and get some peace of mind.

“This pond not only keeps me fit with the work I do around here, but it also gives me the contentment of enjoying nature,” he added.

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