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all things organic, farming and food

Planning a vegetable garden in Dubai- Part 3

By Jamie Carroll. 12/07/2019

This is the third and final part of this mini-series on how to start your own vegetable garden. But don’t worry, we will be back soon to continue helping you on your growing journey.

 

Hopefully by now you have identified the best location for your new veg patch, got your soil mix ready and added it to your preferred type of bed or pot. Your garden should now be ready to grow!

 

In this blog post I want to take a brief look at two common, but very different styles of growing in home gardens. As with so much in gardening, there is no right or wrong; whatever you choose is simply a personal preference.

 

SQUARE FOOT GARDENING

 Square foot gardening is a form of intense cropping in a small space. It was first developed in the 1980’s by Mel Bartholomew. The basic principal is to create a raised bed and divide it into squares, each measuring 1-foot square.

 

This assists the gardener in planning and growing a very orderly, yet intensively planted area, resulting in high yields from a small space. The amount of plants you grow in a square depends on the type of crop; for example, you should only plant one tomato plant per square, or if growing carrots you can have 16 per square. Once you have harvested a square, just top up with a bit of compost and replant.

 

In our beds we have chosen to use the square foot method. It suits the size of our garden, and I like the patchwork effect it gives the growing space. Planting and harvesting the squares make it an easy and fun activity for my daughter too.

 

Left: Sowing seeds in a square foot garden is fun for kids
Top right: carrots spaced nice and evenly
Bottom Right: beans growing in a square foot

 

ROW CROPPING 

Row cropping is the traditional method of growing vegetables, and has been around for hundreds of years. It is commonly seen on allotment plots and farms around the world. In fact, this is how our friends at Emirates Bio Farm grow their fruit and vegetables too.

 This method involves the cultivation of a patch of land, with crops planted in rows. The rows are then spaced a certain distance apart depending on the vegetable you are growing. This gives the gardener space to walk between the rows to tend to the crops.

Unfortunately, most urban gardens don’t have the space to allow for this type of cultivation, but you can still use the row cropping method in garden beds and raised beds. Seed packets give instructions for row cropping, e.g. space plants 3 inches apart, in rows 12 inches apart, so follow these for best results when growing in rows.

 

 Row cropping at Emirates Bio Farm

 

WHAT TO GROW IN YOUR GARDEN

 

One of the mistakes I made when I started growing my own, was to grow things I didn’t necessarily like to eat. One year I grew lettuce. All the magazines and internet articles said it was easy and quick to grow, even in winter. I got sucked in. I grew so much lettuce I could’ve kept a rabbit fed for a year. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with lettuce. I even force myself on occasion to eat a leaf or two. The point I am trying to make is why use limited growing space on a crop you or your family don’t actually like to eat? Grow what you like to eat and you will enjoy it so much more. We love to grow unusual varieties of common vegetables. They often taste different and it adds a lot of interest to both garden and plate!

 

If you are a beginner vegetable gardener, here are some relatively easy to grow vegetables and herbs to try in our climate:

  • Bush beans
  • Aubergines
  • Tomatoes
  • Courgettes
  • Beetroot
  • Radish
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Basil

Seeds are readily available in the garden centres, large supermarkets and hardware stores around the country. Most of the varieties sold are suitable for growing here in the UAE. Make sure to read the back of the seed packet for instructions on how to sow, as some need to be started in pots/trays while others can be sown straight in your garden. If you want to get a head start, seedlings can be purchased from nurseries now.

 

 The Emirates Bio Farm nursery has many varieties of edible crops for sale

 

We hope this article has really motivated you to get started growing your own. We would love to hear from you, so why not follow us @amirah.and.dadas.garden and @emiratesbiofarm and let us know how your garden planning is going and what you are growing!