Leen Al Zaben shares her top tips for growing an organic garden in Dubai.
Living in Jordan, with its rich soil and great weather, has allowed me to grow my own fruits and vegetables for the past few years. Growing a garden in Dubai, however, will take a little more dedication. Here’s a few tips that can help.
Soil in the UAE is not ideal for growing vegetables or fruit due to its quality and high level of sodium. It would be wise to buy some organic soil to get started. You can plant your seedlings in your garden, but I would recommend using pots that are slightly elevated (you can prop them up on a couple of bricks) to make sure they don’t come in contact with the sand.
I usually grow my plants from seed. You need to start early and use the seasons as your guide. It really depends on what you want to grow, but seasonality is very important. I start sowing my tomato seeds as early as February (or after the last frost of the season). A shortcut is to buy the seedlings from any gardening shop, but you can’t guarantee the quality of the crop.
Water and Nutrients
It goes without saying that regular watering is necessary, but again it really depends on your plant. You need to get to know it. Fertilizers and nutrients are very important for growing healthy plants that will eventually yield healthy fruit. Only use organic fertilizers, because whatever is in them will end up in your fruit and, eventually, in you!
Planting crops in Dubai is a little tricky; you kind of need to work in reverse. You should use the end of summer as your marker to start growing your seeds, so that you can get the most out of them throughout the temperate winter months. Tomatoes and peppers are a very versatile crop to start with. If you sow the seeds in August, by October they will be ready to be planted in larger pots, and you can have a good few months of excellent tomato supply.