The vegetable patch

20 Oct, '07
The vegetable patch

The vegitable patch, originally uploaded by malyousif.

This is my vegetable patch, in it I have sown cabbage, marrow, onion, cauliflower and also have tomato and aubergines planted. The trees you see in here are the raspberry (left back) pomegranate (back right) and chiko (fore right) you might also notice the jasmine trying to creep around the kitchen’s window!

I’m also using this area as a nursery for flowers, the seed trays contain antirrhinum, corn flower and godetia. The pots contain calundulas and scabious.

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  1. Anwar Y Abdulrahman says:

    Dear Mahmood,
    I have few comments for a better garden of yours. First, you must leave enough space around plants such as the pomegranate and chicko (not too close to wall), otherwise you will get poor yielding later-on. Similarly, when planting cabbage, marrow, cauliflower and tomato you need to keep enough spacing between plants. For a limited space gardeners, I would recommend planting other vegetables that don’t require large areas. Also, choosing a full sunny area for planting these vegetables and preparing the soil first with natural compost are of essential importance for best results.
    Best regards
    Anwar

  2. Mahmood says:

    A pleasure to have you here Anwar and thanks for your advice, please do keep them coming.

    I had no choice unfortunately in the placement of the chico and the pomegranate, those were positioned in that location – very close to the wall – by the company I hired to do the garden initially, back in the day when the only thing I knew about “gardening” is to turn the tap on and flood the place and then complain about “nothing growing”!

    I’m a bit better now, and that hopefully shows in the location I chose for the raspberry tree. I am loath to move the chico and the pomegranate at this stage for fear of killing them. I shall keep them as they are at the moment even if for cosmetic reasons alone. I actually have started to “bend” the chico off the wall a bit and hopefully its distant branches will yield something. So far since it has been planted, there was only one fruit which never matured (it was rock hard for a long time and then just disappeared! I think the gardener threw it out.) I did however eat a couple of pomegranates; there too I must confess that they were bitter and not ripe enough to be plucked.

    Learning is probably as enjoyable as the hard work I put into the garden physically and emotionally!

    I agree that the vegetable patch is not as large as I want it to be as it is only 4 meters by 3 meters or thereabouts. I am not allowed to expand it as that area of the garden is reserved for the dogs and Arif’s basketball court. So I am really thankful that I got this area in the first place!

    The plants I have placed in there at the moment have about 30cm between them, if I find that is not enough of a gap as they grow, I don’t mind sacrificing a few to save many or to get a better crop. The same goes for the seeds I spread – which I did with liberal abandon – but the idea was that a packet of seed is only 300 fils (about a 80c) and I can always thin the weaker seedlings when they sprout and continue to choose the stronger stock.

    This is an experiment that I am really looking forward to. Other than basel and parsley, I have never eaten salads I grew. That would be a really nice experience and am determined to partake in it this season.

    I think I prepared the area well enough for growing this season; I turned the earth and mixed cow manure (4 big 50kg bags of the good stuff) into the earth down to about 30cms depth. I watered it for a week before planting anything in order for the water to distribute the nutrients better and I’ve got a good drip system that comes on for 7 minutes at 8 litres per hour every 12 hours.

    The stage is set and all I have to do is continue to pour sweat into this patch in anticipation of its bounty, some of which you will be welcome to too!

  3. meggie whetstone says:

    Anwar is right I reckon. Plenty of well rotted compost will help all of your plants. But also, in terms of space saving, what about French Beans? I note you have some wall space for training ’em.
    If I were gardening, where you are gardening, I would be relishing my fruit crop. Pears (Doyenne du Comice) Peaches( Rochester, Duke of York), Avocados, and all this gardening work will make you slimmer Mahmood. It will, you will be young, lovely, svelte and muscular. If you manage to grow Perigord Truffles (unlikely), it will also make you rich.
    But it won’t make the kids eat the veg you have grown. Only way to get them to do that, is to smother their cabbage and cauliflower in mint sauce. So plant some mint in a pot (not in the garden, mint really will invade Poland) and cut all you need. It likes being cut.

  4. Mahmood says:

    I didn’t think of French beans. I frankly only thought of tomatoes and salads at the moment, and as the seeds were on the counter at the shop, all I did is picked up almost one of each! I know, planning should be better than that, but as this is my first try with veggies, I could afford to make mistakes.

    I would love to have a fruit orchard, but currently we don’t have space enough for that. As time goes by, I can see adding a tree here and there and see how that grows. For instance, I planted lemon, orange and tangerines in the front garden. One of the lemons as well as the orange died earlier in the year. They all flowered for a while, but then promptly dropped their flowers and went into dormancy or shock, I don’t know which.

    The remainder are doing well enough leaf wise, but no flowers yet and not much grown at this particular moment, but I continue to look after them and hope that next season they will fair better.

    I’m not sure if pears and peaches would grow here. I have a feeling that it would be far too hot and humid for them. I will continue looking for things to plant in the garden, especially perennials, as I think those are the real soul of any garden.

  5. Anwar Y Abdulrahman says:

    Here is some suggestions on fruit trees that grow in Bahrain and I was able to watch them grow in my garden. Custard Apple : it needs shade and minimum sun light hours, they will produce little salty fruits but if you can afford to pamper them with river-like water they will get better tasty fruits. Lime : there are different kinds and you can be choosy, one is getting seedless yellow lime with very thin layer, another is producing two times a year, and a third is the normal green litte one. Chinese Apple : I don’t know what this is going to look like but it has grown nicely so far. Star fruit : very beautiful leaves and it needs semi-shade. Barhy and Khlas is a must but don’t buy the tissue-cultured ones unless you want to take the risk. The recent commercial productions resulted in poor taste and yield. The ones that come from Saudi Arabia are highly recommeded though. Mangos : there is the indian, egyptian, pakistani and mixed varieties. The best recommended for Bahrain weather is the indian mixed and you get it from “Al khair” nursery. In Dec you can look for “Chico/Mango” mixed tree, which will have a new breed of these two fruits. I have seen a tree in Bahrain that has four, yes 4 different breeds of “Kenar” fruits, sorry I don’t know their English names. Another lovely tree is Olive, and you have the choice between the green or black olive. They are very easy to grow but also very slow. You can try Raspberry and the available varieties here are the white, extra sweetwhite (pakistan origin), red or double red. I like the extra sweet white, they have abnormal wide leaves. Chinese blueberry : available sometimes in Aida nursery in Janabia highway. I though it was going to die during the last summer, but thanks god it came back to life again. It is worth trying. Juava : you can get the Egyptian or the Indian. I would go for the first. Figs : there is the green and the red variety here. Red is difficult to grow. For the green there is one sweeter than the other and I don’t know how to differentiate between them. For all fruit growers you must use good quality fertilizer that contains the traces of important elements for the plant. Just type “fertilizer” in google and you will learn a lot about what I mean. I have found a good complete fertilizer (that contains all the 3 major elements+the 3 minor ones+the traces of other elements) but it needs mixing with water and application is by spray, even better. For vegetables you can try Lemon grass, very easy to grow and you find them in many nurseries. Also try curly parsley and chives in pots. Very good experience last year. Finally, I need some help from anyone who was able to grow strawberry in Bahrain, or thyme.

  6. Anwar Y Abdulrahman says:

    I guess grape plant deserve a special note..all you have to do is fix two nails in the garden wall, 6 ft high and 5 meters apart..connect them with a nylon covered iron wire..(you get it fm Al Manazel)..and here you go..plant one grape plant in the ground underneath each nail and connect the branches to the wire..(they come 3-5 meter long)..I had a success experiment last year and actually one plant even produced fruit (little and sour)..remember, you have to prune at least 80% of the plant each year..I have tried the red and green grapes and success rate is equal for both..they need at least 6 hours of sun everyday..Al Khair nursery has syrian grape plants which I recommend. Old Jassim has special fertilizer for grapes. They remain green all year long but start to come live vigorously in September. Good luck.

  7. Mahmood says:

    I did get a Syrian red grape from Al-Khair and planted it in the Buddha Patch by the wrought-iron fence. It had a long branch that I don’t think will ever produce any new leaves. The Al-Khair guys had this plant for about a year so it wasn’t in the best of shapes. I’ve pruned it back to the growing leaves this morning and hope that it will cover the fence in time.

  8. Mahmood says:

    In Dec you can look for “Chico/Mango” mixed tree, which will have a new breed of these two fruits.

    That would be my ideal tree as I love both fruit!

    My gardener brought over some mangoes from one of the private gardens he works in and I can tell you that those were the best mangoes I have ever had. They smelled and tasted of rose-water! I don’t know whether their owner actually waters them with the stuff but I would not be surprised if he had.

    My neighbour suggested that I should put 2 or 3 mango stones in the ground and then in a year he will send one of his gardeners to come over and graft from their own stock. The intention I guess is to have an acclimatised root system to support good growth. I am sure there are easier (and more immediate!) ways than this as I can get a yearling from one of the nurseries.

    My gardener says that he has seen several mango trees in Bahrain where the root is Bahraini and then they grafted both Indian and Pakistani mangos which I think might be the ideal situation for this lovely fruit, the best of both worlds!

    As to the pot grown vegetables, this is something I am planning to do this weekend. I’ll let you know how I get along. The vegetable patch has flourished since I first posted about it and now I have everything growing in it. I’ll have to thin it tremendously in the next couple of weeks.

  9. Latifa says:

    Hi Mahmood,
    I am looking how to do something useful and organic in my little garden. But how to start. Tomatoes are dying in my garden. Is it to hot here? What are the best things to grow? What kind of sand shall I use?
    I would be thanksful for some advise.

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