Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Picking Beans in PJs

Last year, we had mixed luck with the runner beans we planted. This year, we are full of beans! 

We are growing the Blue Lake Pole variety and they are coming along like a dream. Magic beans, indeed. And they have to be picked first thing in the lovely cool of the morning, in panda bear pjs. That's half the fun. The other half is a bean brunch- garden fresh beans stir fried in a bit of olive oil, garlic and sea salt. The girls eat them like chips and have coined their own term for it- 'chip-beans'. Whatever it takes to get the greens in, I am not complaining!

Saturday, 10 December 2011

How to Improve Shop-Bought Potting Soil

To grow well, the roots of your plants need:


Air - In general, most potting mixes sold commercially around here have good aeration. You can tell by how light and crumbly the mix is. If you are using a container with potting mix from last year, it may have compacted a bit. It's a good idea to fluff it up with a fork and combine with some new mix to ensure your roots don't suffocate once they reach the lower half of the pot.

Moisture- Your potting mix must drain water well but also retain moisture efficiently. Most especially in the growing season here that sees little rain and a lot of sun, watering needs of plants can be huge and quite demanding. At times, potting mixes dry up very quickly despite regular watering and stress your growing plants. I like to add some Perlite, a naturally occurring volcanic glass with several excellent characteristics. It is sterile, lightweight, odourless and retains moisture and nutrients within your growing medium while improving aeration.  It also reduces extreme soil temperature fluctuations. So in order to keep those pots light and to make your water last longer, add a few handfuls of perlite to your container along with potting soil and fertiliser. You can find perlite in Warsan nurseries in Dubai.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Plenty and Pleasure from the Garden

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things 
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

— Wendell Berry