Gardening in the Middle East: Part 1

I love the expat life.  You meet a lot of interesting people and you get to go a lot of interesting places, but there are things back home I miss.  I miss my independence.  I miss seasons.  And I especially miss gardening.  I’m from the Midwest and gardening was a big part of my life.  And I’ve wondered, why don’t more people try to garden while they’re overseas?  I’m sure there’s a reason and that I’m missing something important, so I’ve done a little research about gardening in the Middle East.  I haven’t seen any definite “no you can’t do it” messages.  I even found one woman who happened to be quite successful gardening in Kuwait.

http://www.greenprophet.com/2012/09/kuwait-green-fingered-journey/

And I thought, well if I’m going to be here awhile, I might as well give it a try.  And if it doesn’t work out, well at least I had a fun project to keep me busy after work. I’m faced with several challenges:

First, I know it’s a desert, but I figure with proper water and nutrients, the humid climate here could actually be an advantage.  So I bought soil and seeds and saved some old cardboard boxes to be used as garden beds. I’m actually trying to find clever ways to recycle and using old boxes seemed like a good way.

 

Another issue is the scorching sun which would burn any non-native plant to a crisp.  However, the space I’m provided just happens to be shaded.  I figure if the plants are out of direct sunlight, wouldn’t they be okay? And I got to thinking, would it be beneficial to put up large sheets of plastic, potentially turning my back patio into a green house?  I guess I’ll find out soon.

You won’t encounter the same pests you would in a more garden-friendly environment.  However, one major pest for my garden is considered a pet by my compound neighbors.  There are cats absolutely everywhere and I don’t want them using my garden beds as a litter box.  So I did my best to seal off the gaps in the railing, but now I’m going to have to put something on top of the railing because they could easily jump over.  With limited materials, I’m going to have to get creative.  Still working on cat-proofing the patio.

And that’s what I’ve got so far.  It would seem few people have attempted this, so I’m having trouble finding resources.  I have lots of questions.  For instance, my tap water is desalinated, so does that mean it’s okay for watering the plants?  And, how deep do these garden beds need to go?  Some boxes are deeper than others, but we’ll see.  Once I’ve fully cat-proofed the balcony, we’ll plant the seeds and get started.  Inshallah something will grow.

Peace!

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