How to grow your own vegetable garden at home in Qatar
The temperature in Doha is now dropping and there has not been a better time to practice or pick up a hobby.
If you have limited space, a front or back yard, a rooftop, or even a spot by any of the windows, you could utilize it for gardening at home. This is one of the best hobbies you can engage in with low expense.
Growing flowers or vegetables can be daunting at first but it is immensely rewarding regardless of what and how much you grow.
Moreover, it adds a vibrant touch to your home and can save you some money on groceries. If there is ever too much produce, you can always share it with your neighbors and friends.
What can I grow
The possibilities are endless, varying from flowers, vegetables, fruits, herbs, or even small trees. However, the choice depends on three main factors - time, space, and your needs.
Some of my favorite veggies and herbs are mint (very easy and quick to start things off); cherry tomatoes (the amazing feeling when you pluck them); rocket leaves, lettuce, and salad leaves; and basil.
The current season offers you quite an extensive choice. Petunia, marigold, hibiscus, and morning glory are the easiest to find and plant. Visit a nursery and you will quickly fill up your car boot and the space at home (beware of the honeybees though if planting flowers outside).
If you have a lot of space outside, there is nothing more satisfying than planting a tree and watching it grow over time.
With vegetables, remember one thing: Don’t grow it if you won’t eat it.
When it comes to flowers, go color crazy!
Where to start
Start small if it’s your first time or if you have a pile of work or social commitments.
I started off with just mint a few years ago. Now my rooftop has different types of mint, spring onions, cucumber, eggplant, carrots, lettuce, rocket, coriander, lemon, cherry tomato, green chili, and zaatar (in addition to the flowers that I don’t even know the names of).
Choosing the right spot comes first, whether it's on the roof, balcony, or the garden as your new outdoor babies will need sunshine or protection from it. Make sure you avoid spots where strong winds can knock it over.
Planning is a necessary step and will be based on your space and what you want to grow. For instance, flower or vegetable seeds is one of the cheaper options but will take a long time to grow and bear fruit.
Moreover, seeds available at supermarkets and nurseries at limited options. For beginners, it is advised that you get plants.
For indoor plants, check if the plants need indirect sunlight. Choose your spot accordingly. Herbs can survive indoors with indirect sunlight but watch out for overwatering.
You will also need bigger (or better looking) pots and soil (potting or mixed that drain well). For herbs, I prefer rectangular ones instead of round pots. You can buy or make your own - discarded wooden pallets, yogurt tubs, and bins without lids are some of the options but make sure they have drainage holes at the bottom.
The basic gardening tools required will also be based on your needs and make sure you set up a garden hose before you purchase your new plant.
How to look after plants or vegetables
Plant the seeds or place the pots and watch them grow. If you’re a newbie, you will end up killing a few (especially indoor plants) before you master the art.
Just remember that less water is better than more. Plants are usually very vocal and expressive (not literally) when it comes to water. You will see obvious signs if they need water (or need a break).
Check the soil before watering, especially in indoor plants. Surface soil may look dry but stick a finger in the soil and if it feels moist, don’t water.
For outdoors, aim the hose or pipe at the base of the plant rather than spraying the leaves. Watch out for pet damage too.
Keep checking the underside of the leaves for any unwanted guests. If you see ants going up the stem, that’s a warning sign (they bring visitors).
Some plants may take time to get used to the new place. Water them well as soon as you report them and give them time to settle down.
It’s advisable to plant herbs in pots otherwise they may take over your garden (or backyard). And don’t forget to harvest (and prune) regularly. Helps your appetite and the herb's growth.
For growth, the bigger the pot the better it is for the plant. But you may have limited space so plan carefully.
For the colorful friends, you can make a raised flower bed, space them out across the garden or pot them around your coffee table on your balcony. They won’t let you down.
Look after them well and they will keep you happy.
Add a little jazz, make it a happier place
Add creativity to go with your new acquisitions. It doesn’t need to come at a price.
A garden gnome, a pinwheel, a watering can, hammock, solar lights, and DIY pots will go a long way in making it a happier place. I cleaned and painted an old bbq pit to stack flower pots in it.
I also picked up discarded wooden pallets and ended up making a DIY garden table and benches in addition to pallet pots and herb garden.
If you’re short on space, don’t lose hope. Try vertical gardening.
Put up some garden lights (buy from shops or make your own..I did the latter) for those relaxing outdoor nights in the breeze and enjoy the peppermint tea (yes, the peppermint is from your own garden).
For free consultancy, advice, tips, and ideas, you can connect via my Instagram or ask a question in the comments section below.
The content in this article was contributed to Qatar Living by Faras Ghani.
Make sure to check out our social media to keep track of the latest content.
Instagram - @qatarliving
Twitter - @qatarliving
Facebook - Qatar Living
YouTube - qatarlivingofficial