Dubai: Shaima Al Sewari, a Yemeni teacher at the American School of Creative Science in Sharjah, had two main reasons to start vegetable farming.
“The first was to start my own garden and to learn the process.”
The second was her desire to eat organic food.
“I also discovered that farming helped me relax and feel excited to visit my plants. My garden has become a place to gather for my family members who enjoy a cup of tea in front of the garden while watering the plants,” said Shaima, who lives in Al Barsha.
She started with a small grassy area in front of her house.
“We removed the grass, got new sand and natural fertiliser. We learnt by experience,” she said.
The first thing the family planted was herbs such as mint, coriander and parsley which grow most of the year in the UAE.
“Then we moved to other vegetables such as potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, zucchinis and cucumbers. This gave our garden colour and variety and an almost year-round harvest. We also tried planting fruits such as strawberries, mangoes and bananas.”
The skill of growing produce, said Shaima, a mother of three, calls for multiple points of focus.
“You start with good quality sweet sand [available in nurseries]. Then you add compost and mix it with red sand. Once you have your base, you can start planting seasonal produce either as seeds or regrow from your kitchen scrap or use seedlings.”
In the summer, Shaima’s family plants greens such as spinach and odoratum and basil.
“However, summer plants require much care and attention and more watering. Also, watering needs to be done early morning or by sunset,” she pointed out.
One only needs a small area for planting, she said.
“Areas like the balcony, kitchen windowsill, can be used for your small home garden. You can use pots to plant and then move [them] to your garden if you have more space.”