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Is it possible to develop a vegetable patch in the desert? Of course! If you have the right attitude and if you are willing to spare a little time, you can turn the sandy space in your villa into a beautiful green organic vegetable garden.
Even if you are not living in a villa, you can use your apartment balcony to grow a vegetable patch at minimal costs and with maximum returns. Take inspiration from other gardeners who have successfully created their own vegetable gardens in the UAE.
Starters may ask what vegetables can grow in the country. Plants like cucumber, chili, capsicum and pumpkin grow during the winter, whereas zucchini, potato, onion and eggplant grow during the spring. Tomatoes and herbs grow throughout the year, but need shelter during the summer months. You can also try lettuce, okra, string beans, carrots and spinach. Herbs such as thyme, lemongrass, mint, basil and coriander also grow very well in extreme climatic conditions.
A variety of seeds for vegetables is easily available in the different local markets in the country. Decide on the vegetables you want to grow and buy good quality seeds. Moreover, consider how big the plant will grow to make sure there is enough space available in your garden. Also, check whether it is a climber, creeper, shrub or underground plant, and plan the space in your villa accordingly.
You can start with small pots for seedlings; otherwise, these will easily get swamped. You can buy organic fertilisers and potting soil from the many garden centres found all over the emirates. You will need larger pots to transplant the grown seedlings and handy watering cans to water the plants. During the peak summer months, it is highly advisable to use rigged-up sheets or canopy to provide shelter to the growing plants.
Cultivating a garden can be a fun family weekend activity, so start painting your residence “green” today.
• Before starting a garden, know which plants suit the UAE’s current climate
• Seeds, materials and fertilisers are available at the different garden centres
• Growing organic vegetables ensures a steady supply of fresh food ingredients
Source: Asha Das, Special to Properties
The writer is a freelancer