Monday, October 1, 2012

Back for another growing seasons!!!


Welcome to my blog about growing vegetables in containers in Dubai, the UAE and/or the Arabian Gulf region.

Sorry for the lack of postings.  Being  "IT Challenged",  I was having a very difficult time for the past six weeks trying to get to my blog to post.  For some reason, I was not able to get to my dashboard - no dashboard - no blogging.  I was pretty sure it was lack of my IT knowledge or something I did to my Google settings (Google seems to always be changing things - I am sure to keep us off balance) but that did not stop me from sending irate messages to Goggle blaming them for it.  Well, today - somehow - I managed to get to my dashboard - how I do not know for sure and hopefully I will be able to do it again!

Whoweeeee, was that not some humdinger of a summer - hot, hot and some more hot!!!  I was lucky enough to go to the Philippines for 3 weeks during their rainy season but otherwise I have been back in Dubai since Aug. 16th for a good part of the heat - that seems to have lasted up till Sept. 20th.  My wife's garden took a direct hit this summer and her plants are in sad shape.  In the last few days it feels like the summer is finally gone - I can take a shower at night without being scalded!

It seems everyone is in the planting mood. I took my wife to the Garden Centre last couple of weekends ago as she is looking for a certain plant/bush that makes red flowers (let's just leave it at that) and it was full of folks looking for flowers & plants for their garden.  She bought a few vincas.  Again, this weekend we went out to Warzan (past Dragon Mart) to the nurseries to find her red flower plants. We found them along with some more vinca. Again lots of folks out getting flowers & plants for their garden.  So, I guess it's time for me to get started as well!

I started preparing my old soil a couple of weeks back.  I recycle the soil in my pots/containers each year to save money. I just rejuvenate it with fertilizer at the start of the planting season.

I let the potting soil mixture (some I had added sweat sand ) dry in their containers.  I do this for two reasons - one so not to waste water over the summer months and I am hoping the heat & drying out will kill any hebegebes (fungus, plant diseases, insects & insect eggs) that might be living in the nice moist soil.  But, that creates another problem - the soil becomes hard as a rock.  One way to remedy the problem is to remove the soil brick from the pot and dump it into a bucket of water to soak up the water and then break it up into smaller more manageable pieces.  But I, of course, have to do it the hard way.  I add a bit of water the pot to moisten the soils and then I sift the soil through a wire mesh to remove the small hard clods, old roots and other rubbish that may have found it's way into the soil.  This takes time!!!  Why bother you ask, I  feel like the soil is re-oxygenated because now it is loose and I get a nice fine soil to plant my seeds.  My wife finds it too fine for her taste so we bought a couple of bags of new potting soil and then mix it 50/50 with her old sifted soil.  Here is my mode of operation:

You need something to sift the soil through. I bought the sifter at a farm shop in Al Khwanej last year. It would not be hard to DIY if you were incline to do so - just some wood and screen door material - nail it all together - done.  So, you need something for the sifted soil to fall into - I was lucky with an old photographic B&W developing try (red tray) that was the same size.  Then you need two container/buckets/trashcans - one for the sifted soil and the other for the leftover stuff.  You might find that the leftover stuff is just hard clods and organic matter that you can live with then you will another container/bucket to put it into.

Then perhaps, like I will be doing, you can put some of it in the bottom of the pot to fill it up a bit and maybe even it will help with drainage as well.

A couple of hints to help out with the sifting:
  • If the soil is too dry there is going to be a lot of dust so wear something over your face/nose area to keep from breathing it in otherwise you will be blowing out nasty black stuff for a few days -  not to mention infected sinuses - trust me on this one!
  • If the soil is to wet, it will be difficult to force the soil through the screen and you will need to constantly clean the screen.
  • Maybe wear gloves unless you like really short nails (easier to clean afterwards) and just in case something sharp found it's way into your soil.
  • Especially if you soil is a bit dry, do not  sift it upwind of your wife's freshly washed clothes hanging out to dry - again trust me on this one!!!
Hope this was helpful and my next blog will be about planting your seeds.

Thanks for stopping by and comments and/or any helpful tips you can share with others are always welcome!!!


1 comment:

  1. That was one long, deadly summer we had to go through.... this summer I stayed in the UAE and I really dont want this to happen again. lol

    Im glad you started writing again, I've been frequenting your blog weekly to check if you're back yet... well, I was starting to lose hope but that faded away now ;)

    I also have some news for you! Remember when I told you about my bokashi bucket? It works perfectly; My family's food leftovers were thoroughly pickled. I used the fermented food in my pots for the first time approx 6 weeks ago on a surprisingly "nice" morning (it was probably 36 C, not bad :p). Well, anyway, apart from the fact that I ignored my bokashi bucket for a little bit too long and didnt drain it frequently which caused it to get too wet, leading to a noisome odour, evrything else went perfectly. So despite getting slightly spoiled because of my own mistake it still broke down very rapidly in my pots who still retained their old soil. no insects at all, no smell (after it was buried that is) and almost complete decomposition after 2 weeks, the only thing left was eggshells and orange peels (who were still in the process of breaking down, probably need some water to speed it up). So Im very content with it and Im definetly going to continue using it (this time I'll try to dry up my leftovers :D) the last test it has to pass is how beneficial it is to the plants. I still havent planted anything yet, I'll probably do it in the weekend cause Im really busy with school (Im a 12th grader now, going to be a difficult year).
    Last Friday I emptied all the bokashi left into my pots (some of them already recieved bokashi from the first time) and today I dug into one of the pots to see how's it going, I saw cloudy white mould so I guess thats a great indicator that its breaking down well.
    So the bottom line is, it works for pots just perfectly, it doesnt even have to be deep.