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Growing Vegetables in Dubai

December 15, 2010

Egg Plant Harvest

I have committed the ultimate blogging sin, not keeping everyone updated regularly. With getting ready for our December holiday in South Africa and all the December school activities I have felt as though I have not had a moment to myself. I thought it was high time I updated everyone on my vegetable garden progress. It has been a steep learning curve! Our garden is not getting the amount of sun we thought it would in the Dubai winter! Sunshine, being the life force of growing vegetables is a little in short supply in our veggie patch. The only corner that gets a good amount of sun, has resulted in a eggplant success. Eggplant plants I have to tell you get really big! So big in fact that they have destroyed the sweet corn, by encroaching upon the sweet corn space and robbing them of sunlight! The picture above show my sons with our very first eggplant harvest on December 12th. Harvesting your own food really gives one the most amazing sense of achievement. Those purple beauties all smooth and shiny and firm grew from the soil we prepared for the tiniest little seeds. What an amazing thing mother nature is!

Sweet Corn before being robbed of light

Stages of the Eggplant

The tomato plants which I planted into pots are doing reasonably well. However I have had to move them to a sunnier position in the front garden.

Tomato Plant

The pumpkins are a whole different story. They send their sprawling stems and tentacles out in all directions. After a while they began producing those beautiful deep yellow flowers, the ones the Italians call fior di zucca. They fill them with ricotta and herbs and fry them. They are by all accounts delicious. I had to do a bit of searching on the www to find out what the situation is with pumpkins. We were getting all these  beautiful flowers, but no baby pumpkins. Then I discovered that pumpkins like all squash, have both male and female flowers. It is the male flowers that farmers’ markets sell in Italy ( and I guess elsewhere too), that get filled and fried and eaten with gusto! The male flowers sit at the end of a fairly long stalk, whilst the female flower as a bulbous protrusion at the base of the flower. This little bulb develops into the pumpkin provided it is pollinated by insects or wind. In Dubai we have a little insect shortage, so I bought a pot of marigolds to plant nearby, thus attracting insect life to pollinate the female flowers. I read that with a lack of insect activity, they should be manually pollinated with a small soft paintbrush. I therefore diligently went about with my little paintbrush collecting pollen from the male flowers and pollinating the female flowers.

Pumpkins and Marigolds

So, our first attempt at a vegetable garden in the desert is both tremendously satisfying and frustrating. In January we will plant some salad leaves and see what happens. Until then, we shall be satisfied with eggplant!

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