Growing lemon trees in Qatar

Growing lemon trees in Qatar, despite the country’s harsh desert climate, is possible. With the right care and attention, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor from either potted or in-ground lemon trees.

Understanding Lemon Trees and Qatar’s Climate

To start with, bear in mind that although lemon trees are native to Southeast Asia and generally tolerate heat and sun well, they have their limits, so they can suffer under the extreme heat of Qatar summers.

Location and Planting: In Pots or In-Ground

You can choose to grow your lemon tree in the ground or in a pot. Pot-grown trees are more manageable, mobile, and easier to protect from harsh weather conditions. For in-ground planting, choose a location that gets plenty of morning sun but is shielded from the harsher afternoon sun, perhaps the east or southeast side of your property.

Watering Needs

Both in-ground and pot-grown lemon trees require deep and frequent watering, especially during the extreme summer heat. Ensure the soil is moist but not waterlogged to prevent root rot. In temperatures higher than 38-40 C, watering is necessary daily.


No strict pruning is required for lemon trees in Qatar. Trim the dry ends of the branches regularly to maintain the health and shape of your lemon tree. Fertilizing:

During the gardening season (September-April), apply manure or compost every three weeks, to encourage leaves growth and health. Remember to spread the manure a short distance away from the trunk, to avoid burns. Also offer calcium and magnesium (calmag) supplements every two weeks to ensure it gets all the essential nutrients for growth. Some members of the Gardening Club Qatar use Epson salt purchased from any super market with success. Patience with Young Trees: If you have grafted trees, be aware that they usually take three years to start bearing fruit. If your tree is still small, focus on letting it grow and mature before expecting any fruit.

Combatting Pests and Diseases

Potential growers should also be aware of the common pests and diseases that can affect these trees.

  1. Citrus Leaf Miner: This pest causes serpentine mines on young leaves, distorting their growth. To control leaf miners, use yellow sticky traps and apply neem oil.
  2. Leaf Curling: Leaf curl can be a sign of water stress or a pest infestation, like aphids, mealybugs, or scale. Regularly inspect your tree for pests and ensure it’s adequately watered.
  3. Fungal Diseases: Qatar’s humid summer can favor the development of fungal diseases like sooty mold or citrus canker. Promote good air circulation through pruning and consider using a fungicide if necessary.

Growing lemon trees in Qatar might present challenges, but the rewards of enjoying fresh lemons plucked from your own tree make it a journey worth undertaking. With these guidelines, your lemon tree will stand a great chance of thriving, even under the Qatari sun.

Urban Composting

Bokashi composting is a unique method of composting that allows you to compost a wider variety of materials, including cooked food and small amounts of meat and dairy. This makes it a great option for urban dwellers or anyone looking to reduce their food waste.

The key to bokashi composting is the use of a bokashi bran mix, which is a blend of bran, water, and beneficial microbes. When you add this mix to your food scraps, it begins the process of anaerobic fermentation. This means that the food breaks down without the need for oxygen, which helps to reduce odors and attract pests.

To start bokashi composting, you’ll need a bokashi bin and some bokashi bran. These can be made easily with tools and materials that we have at home, like fermenting rice and mixing it with milk, to make your own bokashi bran and a container with a tap instead of a bin. Once you have these, simply layer your food scraps and bokashi bran in the bin, making sure to press down on the layers to remove any air pockets.

After about four to six weeks, your food scraps will have fermented and can be added to your outdoor compost bin or used as a soil amendment in your garden. One of the benefits of bokashi composting is that it produces a liquid byproduct known as “bokashi tea,” which is rich in nutrients and can be used as a fertilizer for your plants.

Overall, bokashi composting is a simple and effective way to reduce your food waste and produce nutrient-rich compost for your garden. It’s a great option for anyone looking to live a more sustainable lifestyle and give back to the earth. 

If you would like to learn how to compost with the Bokashi method, click here to sign up for our Online Urban Composting course with Soumia Masmoudi

Have you heard about Vegepod?

Vegepod is a revolutionary way to grow your own vegetables, herbs, and plants at home. This innovative gardening system allows you to grow a wide variety of crops in a controlled environment, even if you don’t have a traditional backyard or access to natural sunlight.

One of the main benefits of the Vegepod system is its self-watering feature. The pod is equipped with a water tank that automatically releases the right amount of water to the plants, eliminating the need for daily watering and reducing the risk of over- or under-watering. This is especially useful for busy gardeners or those who are new to gardening and may not have the time or knowledge to properly care for their plants.

In addition to the self-watering feature, the Vegepod is designed to maximize growing space and efficiency. It has a built-in greenhouse cover that helps to regulate temperature and humidity, creating the ideal growing environment for your plants. The cover also protects the plants from pests and extreme weather conditions.

The Vegepod is made from high-quality, durable materials that are designed to last for many seasons. It is easy to assemble and can be set up on any flat surface, such as a patio or deck. It also comes with a comprehensive guide that provides step-by-step instructions for setting up and maintaining your Vegepod.

Another advantage of the Vegepod system is its versatility. You can grow a wide variety of vegetables, herbs, and plants in the pod, depending on your preferences and the climate in your area. Some popular choices include tomatoes, lettuce, herbs, and peppers.

Overall, the Vegepod is a great option for anyone looking to start a home garden or expand their existing gardening setup. It is a convenient, easy-to-use, and sustainable way to grow your own fresh produce and plants year-round. So, it is a good choice for gardeners of all levels, whether you are a seasoned pro or a beginner.

If you would like to get your own Vegepod, you can order one here.

All about neem oil

When someone starts gardening in the Gulf, one of the first things they will hear about is neem oil.

People that don’t come from Asia might have never heard about it, as neem oil is a natural pesticide that comes from the seeds of the Neem tree, which doesn’t grow in colder climates.

Neem tree origin and expansion

The Neem tree is native to north-eastern India and grows mostly in Asia and Australia. It also grows well in the Gulf region, as it’s extremely heat and drought tolerant.

Neem tree today has the botanical name Azadirachta indica and belongs to mahogany family, Meliaceae.

The name Azadirachta is derived from the Persian. Azad means “free”; dirakht means “tree”; i-Hind means “of Indian origin”. So the Latin name literally means “the free tree of India”.

Uses of neem oil

All parts of the neem tree – leaves, flowers, seeds, fruits, roots and bark – have been used in traditional medicine for the treatment of inflammation, infections, fever, skin diseases and dental disorders.

Due to its antimicrobial properties, neem oil can also be added to homemade cleaning products to help kill germs and bacteria.

In gardening, we use the oil that is extracted from the kernels to control pests in a natural way and even get some mild fungicidal benefits at the same time.  

How does neem oil act?

Neem oil works as a preventative method as well as pest control for an existing infestation of the most common insects that appear in our gardens in the Gulf:  

Leaf miners, Spider mites, Beetles, Aphids, Mealy bugs (in combination with rubbing alcohol)

 The precise mode of action of neem oil on certain insects hasn’t been clearly defined by research so far.  Different neem extracts have been found to act on different insects in various ways and the exact effects are often difficult to pinpoint.

But, despite all the uncertainty over details, various neem extracts are known to act on various insects in the following ways:

  • Disrupting or inhibiting the development of eggs, larvae, or pupae;
  • Blocking the molting of larvae or nymphs;
  • Disrupting mating and sexual communication;
  • Repelling larvae and adults;
  • Deterring females from laying eggs;
  • Sterilizing adults;
  • Poisoning larvae and adults;
  • Deterring feeding;
  • Blocking the ability to “swallow” (that is, reducing the motility of the gut);
  • Sending metamorphosis awry at various stages; and
  • Inhibiting the formation of chitin. (source)

To read more details on how neem oil affects each order of insects, you can click here.

Neem oil can be used to control certain fungal diseases, such as powdery mildew, by preventing the growth and spread of fungal spores on plant leaves. While it cannot fully eliminate an existing fungal infection, it can help prevent the disease from spreading to healthy tissue.  

How to extract neem oil

There are many methods for extracting neem oil from the seeds of the neem tree. Here are the two most common ones:

Cold press method: To extract oil from neem seeds using this method, the seeds are ground into a paste and then pressed to release the oil. This process can be done at home with a manual or motorized oil press, but it is important to make sure the seeds are ground finely in order to get the maximum amount of oil.

Solvent extraction method: To extract oil from neem seeds using the solvent extraction method, a chemical solvent is used to dissolve the oil from the seeds. The seeds are ground into a powder and mixed with the solvent, and the mixture is then filtered to separate the oil from the solvent. While this method can produce a larger yield of oil compared to the cold press method, it is also more complex and involves the use of potentially dangerous chemicals.

The quality of the neem oil produced using these methods can vary. Cold-pressed neem oil is generally considered to be of higher quality, as it retains more of the natural compounds and nutrients found in the seeds. However, solvent-extracted neem oil may be less expensive and more widely available.

In general, to produce high-quality neem oil, it is important to start with fresh, good-quality neem seeds, no matter which extraction method is used.

Gardening application

Method of application: Spray with a mix of neem oil, liquid soap and water.

Solution preparation:  

Add 1 teaspoon of neem oil and a few drops of dishwashing liquid in 1 liter of water, mix well and spray.

Make sure you spray well the top and bottom of the leaves, as most insects prefer to live under the leaves.  

Repeat every 5 days, at least 3 times and monitor the insects’ population.

For preventative applications, spray every 10 days and check your plants closely on top and under the leaves.

Timing: As mentioned above, neem oil can kill insects during different stages of their lifecycle (eggs, larvae, pupas, and adults) and it is non-toxic for humans, so it can be used at any time during the growing season. However, make sure to wash well with soap and water any vegetables that have been sprayed with neem oil before they are consumed.

The only period to avoid the use of neem oil (unless it’s absolutely necessary) is when the temperatures are above 45 C, as it can burn the leaves.

Spray with neem oil during the morning or evening hours. Avoid using neem oil during the middle of the day, as the combination of neem oil and direct sunlight can burn the plants.

It’s important to note that neem oil is generally considered to be a safe and natural pest control option, as it is not toxic to humans or most beneficial insects. However, it is still important to follow the instructions on the product label and use it in moderation to avoid any negative effects on plants, beneficial insects and humans.

Neem oil alternatives – advice by the gardeners of the Gardening Club Qatar Facebook Group

If there is neem oil shortage in the market, here are some homemade alternatives that can support your garden until you can get some actual neem oil.

Note: this advice can be found in our online community; however, it hasn’t been tested by Hadiqaa Middle-East

  • Sprinkling neem powder on the infected plants: Can be made at home by drying neem leaves and crushing them.
  • A handful of fresh neem leaves can be finely chopped and left in 1 lt of water for 3 days to ferment. Then dilute part of this mix with more water and dish soap and spray.
  • Boil fresh neem leaves for about 15 mins along with one small fresh turmeric rhizome. Keep the solution covered for 24 hours. To use it, dilute this solution in 1:5 ratio with water and spray.
  • Boil a handful of neem leaves in 1 liter of water till the leaves color fades. Cool and strain the mixture, then add a few drops of liquid soap and spray your plants.
  • Boil 2 to 3 handful of neem leaves in 1 cup coconut oil for 30 minutes at low flame. Cool and strain the mixture, then add a few drops of liquid soap and spray your plants. Store in a bottle.
  • As mulch: Dry, crush and add neem leaves on your houseplants as mulch.


Gardenia care in the Gulf

Gardenias are famous among gardeners of all ages, for their sweet smell and shiny foliage. 

At the same time, they are famous for being a complicated and high maintenance plant, which requires some more attention than other plants that have been mentioned in this blog, like bougainvillea (link) or adenium (link). 

If you are a person like me, who enjoys the “let it dry before you water again” philosophy for plant care – which basically means that you don’t do much! – then probably a gardenia will feel like it’s out of your “gardening comfort zone” and that you do things wrong. Don’t get disappointed, however do assess your time and space before you decide to go for one. 

When you first bring a gardenia in your house or garden, it will require some observation of their behavior, like moving them around in the garden or your house, until you figure out which spot they like best or like offering a little more or a little less water, until you see them happy. 

Don’t worry though; it doesn’t all have to come down to trying-and-testing and observing. You can save some time by following the tips that we give below: 

Watering: Gardenias like their soil to be moist (of course, they don’t like sitting in water!), so water them more frequently than most of your plants and make sure they have good drainage. This means in no case that an indoor gardenia needs water every day (probably it would need every 5-8 days), but it does mean that an outdoor gardenia can’t sit in a spot where its soil dries out very quickly.  

Light: Gardenias like bright light, and in the Gulf this is translated into full sun in the winter (between end of November and March) and no direct sun in the summer – or maximum 2 hours early in the morning or late in the afternoon. 

When it comes to soil, Gardenias are acidophile plants, which means that they need a soil pH below 7, with optimum between 5.0-6.5. 

Fertilizer: Gardenias have high needs in iron and the way to diagnose an iron deficiency is by seeing the leaves becoming yellow between the veins, like in the photo below. Offer some balanced fertilizer every 4-8 weeks and since they like acidity, you can add some coffee beans and tea bags in your compost without a worry. 


Bring your outdoor gardenia in a bright room during the summer or place them under full shade if you are planning to keep them outside. 

Take it out again gradually (few hours every day) in mid October. Place it in fill sun in November and wait for it to bloom. 


Pruning happens after the summer and around Februray – unless there is a serious reason, like pests, to do it at another time. You can remove dead branches, leaves and flowers all year round, to give more space to the plant to grow.    


You can propagate your gardenia by cuttings of new wood (top 15-20 cm of the new branches). It’s advisable to keep a back up, since it’s so sensitive! 


If you have some plants or a garden at home and you would need specific advice, contact us, to schedule a consultation with one of our experts. 

Happy gardening!   

Fertilizers – Giving our plants a helping hand

Over time, the nutrients in our soil (especially with potted plants) naturally depletes itself as it is consumed by the plant or washed away from watering.

With so many fertilizer options, choosing the right fertilizer to boost nutrients can be daunting.  To help you choose the right option, first we need to understand some basics about plant nutrition.

Apart from the 3 basic elements (soil, water, air) that plants need, there are also Macro and Micronutrients that are required to support plant growth and development.

The most common which is talked about in our gardening community relates to NPK (macronutrients) and here is how each one of them benefits our plants: 

  • N (nitrogen) – supports plant growth above ground with lush foliage
  • P (phosphorus) – supports plant growth below ground with healthy roots
  • K (potassium) – supports overall plant wellbeing and promotes flowering / fruiting 

On the product labels, each respective element is indicated by a number that reflects the quantity of the element in the fertilizer and is always indicated in the following order: 

First Number – indicates the quantity of Nitrogen

Second Number – indicates the quantity of Phosphorus

Third Number – indicates the quantity of Potassium

An example of a general use NPK fertilizer for ornamental plants is 20-20-20. This is also referred to as a “balanced” fertilizer, as it offers 20 units of nitrogen, 20 of phosphorus and 20 of potassium (ie.  equal quantities for each element).

NPK fertilizers with varied values are widely available in the market.  It is always recommended to check what value your plants require, depending on specific requirements or to treat a specific deficiency the plant is suffering from.

Apart from these 3 numbers, that define the quantity of nutrients, fertilizers can also come in many different forms and types. The two distinct categories are organic and inorganic (or mineral) fertilizers. 

  • Organic fertilizers have a plant or animal origin and the most commonly used are compost or animal manure, fish meal, seaweed and bone meal. Organic fertilizers provide a slow nutrient release and improve the overall health of the soil, while it reduces the necessity of repeated application of synthetic fertilizers to maintain soil fertility.
  • Inorganic or mineral fertilizers are produced through a chemical process and release plant nutrients much faster compared to the organic options, so you will see the results and impact on your plants much quicker.  This category however does not provide live bacteria that aides soil rejuvenation and does not contribute to the overall long-term improvement of a healthy garden.

 3 types of inorganic fertilizers that are most commonly used, include:

  • Granular – these dissolve gradually and provide plant nutrition over a longer period (1 – 2 months)
  • Liquid – this can easily be applied through irrigation or spraying, but will require more frequent application (every 2 – 4 weeks) 
  • Hydrosoluble – they look like sugar and they are also applied through irrigation or spraying. Usually they contain higher quantities of nutrients, so the application rate and frequency is very low. 

To avoid the risk of potentially burning the roots from oversupply, we always recommend beginner gardeners to first use a lower dosage.

These are some fertilizers available in the Qatar market and where to find it:

  1. Granular and hydro soluble products such as “All Purpose”, “Super Bloomer” and “Relaxe Blue Pellet” can be found at nurseries such as Floranza and Mashtal Al Hadaf.
  2. Agri-Qatar liquid fertilizers can be purchased directly from the Mitras store and shops like Carrefour or Lulu Hypermarket.  Global Farm Market also has a wide variety of options to choose from.
  3. Organic compost or animal manure – the Agri-Qatar brand can be purchased directly at the Mitras store (https://www.mitraswll.com/organic-fertilizer.html).  Some plant nurseries also stock these products.

During the current growing season (November to April) the following inorganic fertilizer application schedule can be followed:

  • 20-20-20 solution every 3-4 weeks can be applied to plants with only green foliage
  • 15-30-15 solution every 2-3 weeks can be applied to flowering plants
  • For vegetables we recommend mixing manure or compost upon plantation. Later, to encourage flowering,  we recommend using a 15-30-15 solution and when the first fruits start appearing, a 12-12-36 solution can be applied.

To learn more about plant nutrition and how to best apply fertilizers to your plants, join our upcoming live online workshop at https://hadiqaa.com/product/plant-nutrition-online-workshop/ 

As always, enjoy the outdoors and your gardening journey!

Happy Gardening 

Fungi on plants

Many gardeners would like to know more about diseases and very often there seems to be some confusion between deficiencies, diseases and insect attacks.

As it’s a large topic, I decided to narrow it down and make a blog post about fungal diseases. To make this post more helpful, I have used photos from the web. Some show VERY CLEARLY the symptoms of each disease and some of them are added, to demonstrate the complexity of a diagnosis from a photo.

To start with, “A plant disease is defined as “anything that prevents a plant from performing to its maximum potential.” This definition is broad and includes abiotic and biotic plant diseases.

1. Abiotic diseases are caused by environmental conditions and not by living agents. They don’t spread from plant to plant, however many plants in a garden might show the same symptoms.

Examples of abiotic diseases / factors causing abiotic diseases are:

  • Deficiencies (caused by low supply of nutrients or unsuitable soil type)
  • Sun burn
  • Soil compaction
  • Ice and others

2. Biotic or infectious diseases are caused by living organisms, called plant pathogens when they infect plants. Pathogens can spread from plant to plant and may infect all types of plant tissue including leaves, shoots, stems, crowns, roots, tubers, fruit, seeds.

Some plant pathogens are:

  • Fungi
  • Fungal-like organisms
  • Bacteria
  • Phytoplasmas
  • Viruses
  • Viroids
  • Nematodes
  • Parasitic higher plants

To keep things simple, in this post, I will focus on fungi and fungal-like organisms, as they cause most of the infectious diseases on plants and also have more chances than the rest, to be treated.

3. Disease triangle: It is important to know that plants that are:

  • Young
  • Newly transplanted
  • Poorly Fed
  • Weakened or stressed by external factor (e.g. extreme heat in the summer)

Are much more prone to diseases. Why?

Because for a disease to occur in any plant system, there are three components that are absolutely necessary:

  • a susceptible host plant (weak, young, hungry – just like humans, these plants have a lower “immune” system)
  • a harmful pathogen
  • a favorable environment

When these three components are present at the same time, a disease will occur if a susceptible host plant is in intimate association with a harmful plant pathogen under favorable environmental conditions.

4. Classification

A gardener should have a general idea about the pathogens classification, in order to be able to select the correct treatment for the relevant disease. As said above, infectious diseases are caused by 2 main categories of pathogens:

  • Fungi
  • Fungal like organisms

The categorization happens based on molecular data (DNA), anatomical characteristics (cell walls) and mode of reproduction. (Their taxonomy is constantly changing, especially due to the developments of the research based on DNA comparisons). It is important to know that both categories can be transferred to our plants through the air, water, soil, insects, birds or other plants.

5. Common diseases:

The most common diseases in Qatar are powdery mildew, downy mildew, leaf spots and blight.In this post, you will see many photos from all of these diseases on different plants.

Powdery mildew: It is caused by various fugal-like organisms, like Golovinomyces cichoracearum for sunflower or Podosphaera pannosa for roses. The clearest symptom (or sign) of the disease called “powdery mildew” is the white “powder” on TOP of the leaves.

Photos from the Hellenic Society of Phytiatry

Downy mildew: It is also caused by various fugal-like organisms, belonging to a family called “Peronosporaceae”, like Pseudoperonospora cubensis for cucumber or Plasmopara obducens for impatiens or Peronospora megasperma for pansy.The way to separate downy mildew from powdery mildew is by the powder (usually grey) UNDER the leaves. Initially you will see pale blotches on the upper leaf surfaces and corresponding patches of fuzzy grey growth on the underside.

Leaf spot: Can be caused by the fungi Alternaria (tomatoes) or Diplocarpon rosae on roses or Cercospora on mulberry.Black spot looks like circular black spots on leaves. It usually occurs on the upper sides of leaves, but can also develop on the undersides. The outer margins of the black circles are ragged or feathery and they are usually surrounded by a ring of yellow. Spots usually begin on the older leaves and move upward.

If you read the label of a fungicide, you will see that each fungicide is suitable for certain diseases, so it’s important to identify which disease you have in your garden. In many cases, the symptoms can be confusing and the only way to know 100% what disease your plants have, is by a lab test. And this is another reason that THE RANDOM USAGE OF PESTICIDES is NOT RECOMMENDED; unless you are really certain about the disease you have, it’s better to avoid useless applications of dangerous chemicals.


A. Organic control: Organic control is harmless, but its efficacy is generally lower than conventional pesticides.

The most common organic, human/animal/insect friendly treatments for most of the fungal (and fungal like) diseases available in Qatar, are:

• Neem oil (5-10 drops/1 lt of water – preferably mixed with a few drops of dishwashing liquid)

• Baking soda (1 tsp/1 lt of water)

• Mix of both (baking soda & neem oil)

• Biofungicides such as Tadmir / Pseudomonas Fluroescens or Trichoderma Viride from Mitras- AgriQatar.

If all of the above fails, the next option is using a Copper solution. It is slightly toxic, but it can work well if you apply at an early stage. It is recommended to wear protective clothing and mask when you spray it.

For any application, be cautious when the weather is hot and only spray very early in the morning, so that the droplets dry before the sun sees your plants.

B. Chemical control:

When it comes to chemical control, it is important to understand that fungicides are completely different products from insecticides. The first ones are used for infectious diseases (from fungi or fungal-like organisms), while the second ones, are used against insects. Following everything that has been mentioned before, regarding the classification and the identification of various diseases, I hope that it is clear that using any chemical fungicide off the shelf, without consulting a specialist, might not give you the desired result, as it might not be suitable for your case. (Apart from the obvious drawback of causing health problems, like cancer, or killing beneficial insects and damaging the environment).

Also, it is good to keep in mind that many diseases (like downy mildew or phytophthora blight) cannot be managed by fungicide applications alone; successful disease control is achieved only by a season-long effort to manage water and utilize other cultural practices, like aerating your plants, keeping them healthy, spraying preventively with neem oil etc.

In this post, I will use as an example of how bad the pesticides can be for our health, the active ingredient mancozeb, which has been used in agriculture for many years. In EU, mancozeb was recently classified as a category 1B reproductive toxicant and an endocrine disruptor and its usage is banned. I think that in Qatar it is still allowed, however it should be banned globally soon.

To close this long post, let me remind again that the first step for every plant problem is to identify if your plants suffer from water problems, a deficiency, an insect attack, a disease or anything else.

If you would like to know more, comment below or contact us.

Benefits of Gardening for Kids

So many of my childhood memories involved wide open spaces, adventures in the great outdoors and planting and growing vegetables with my dad.  Precious memories I now look back on in my adulthood and fondly remember those care-free days when I potter about in my own garden.

There are so many different ways kids can benefit from gardening and by having a connection to nature.  I’m reminded today of the time in my childhood that we planted corn all along the fence of our front garden.  I was so excited to see the plants grow and waited in anticipation to pick the fully grown corn.  The evening before we planned to harvest the corn, a herd of cows came walking along the fence and munched with much delight on all the plants!  I was devastated!  

Fortunately there won’t be any cows eating your lovingly grown crops here in Qatar and today I admire my recently planted corn and simply smile when I see it grow. 

Going on your own gardening adventure with your kid(s) is one of the best activities for the whole family! Not all kids will be budding botanists or tree surgeons, but they will certainly have heaps of fun on the journey of discovery.

“You have a chance to plant a seed of something very special in the hearts, minds, and spirits of your children as you garden together.” – Cathy James

(source: https://artfulparent.com/the-garden-classroom/)

These are our TOP 5 ways kids can benefit from doing gardening activities:

  1.  Knowledge

Planting a tiny seed that becomes a plant can be a magical experience.  Learning the process and what that tiny seed needs to grow can help build knowledge.  Gardening offers a complete sensory experience for kids, from getting their hands dirty with soil to seeing the plant grow to tasting the fruits and veggies grown. (Note: not all plants should be tasted!)

  1.  Environmental Awareness

What better way to enjoy nature with family and friends.  Gardening provides kids with an awareness of their environment and the role plants have in living a sustainable life. 

  1. Nutrition

I am fortunate that from my childhood I have had a fondness for eating any and all vegetables.  Gardening teaches kids to appreciate where food comes from and a vegetable or herb grown by yourself will always taste better than what you can buy in a food store.

  1. Self-Confidence

There can be many failures in gardening, but being able to plant a seed and nurture it to a mature plant is incredibly rewarding and this in-turn builds confidence in kids and gives them a sense of achievement.

  1. Mental and Physical Wellbeing

Gardening as a child is simply good for the soul.  It not only gives kids the opportunity to be active, but also supports their mental wellbeing through the release of positive endorphins or an opportunity for kids to express themselves freely.  Seeing a pretty flower or plant can bring a smile to anyone! 

Hadiqaa supports your child’s gardening adventure through their Kids Gardening Workshops. To find out more, go to https://hadiqaa.com/product-category/in-person-workshops/

The most important thing is to have some fun as a family, enjoy the outdoors and enjoy your kids gardening journey together!

Happy Gardening 

Winter Vegetable Growing Season in Qatar

The winter growing season in Qatar is from October to April, and if you have not yet started sowing seeds or planting seedlings, the time to start is now.

One of the most rewarding things about gardening is to grow your own vegetables. Whether you have an outdoor garden space or a small balcony, multiple growing options are available to suit your garden space. 

Whether you are a new or experienced gardener, it is always a journey of learning, growing, sometimes failing, but it is always a rewarding experience.

These are our TOP 5 tips on how to best prepare for the vegetable growing season:

  1.  Soil Matters

Refresh existing garden soil with compost or vermicompost.  These products are available at gardening stores and plant nurseries in Qatar, or you can utilise homemade compost.

For planters and pots, a good soil mix comprises 1/3 coco peat/coir, 1/3 perlite and 1/3 good quality compost.  Mix well and ensure that the soil is moist but not drowning in water.

  1.  Location, Location, Location

Plant according to the amount of sunlight you get in your garden space. 

Sun-loving vegetables include tomatoes, okra, eggplant, corn, green beans and cucumber.  These can also tolerate partial-sun-shade areas, but they might yield less produce.

Many vegetables are shade tolerant; some include broccoli, beets, cabbage, carrots and garlic.

A wide selection of herbs (basil, rosemary, thyme and oregano) and flowers such as marigolds can also be planted as companions to repel pests away from your vegetable plants naturally.

  1. Seed Selection

There is a wide variety of vegetables and herbs to plant during the growing season.  Select seeds according to the space you have available.  Some plants like tomatoes, green beans and cucumbers require a trellis and other plants like broccoli, zucchini and cabbage can grow quite large, so it is always good to keep in mind, when selecting your seeds, what the mature plant size would be and the support or care it would require.

Locally produced seeds from Mitras can be purchased in their store and local nurseries such as Floranza and the Garden Center.  When ordering heirloom seeds online, always get heat-tolerant seed varieties and select seed packets with the most recent packing date; this will provide a higher success rate during the germination process.

  1. Tools

If you are a new gardener, start small and add more gardening tools as you progress on your gardening journey.  Some of the essential tools you will need are gloves, a garden fork, a small or medium-sized spade or shovel, a garden hose or watering can and pruning shears.

Check the Hadiqaa Gardening Businesses Directory for a complete list of local suppliers in Qatar.

  1. Join a Gardening Community

Being part of a gardening community is a great way to share your gardening journey and connect with like-minded individuals and fellow gardening enthusiasts.  It’s a great way to share knowledge, swap seeds, swap or share seedlings or even share your harvest if you have grown too many vegetables.

You can join the Gardening Club – Qatar group on Facebook, or if you are already a member of the community, why not invite your friends to join.

The most important thing is to have some fun, enjoy the outdoors and enjoy your gardening journey!

Happy Gardening

Adenium care in the Gulf

Image: https://unsplash.com/photos/bG-AU6h9gmg?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditShareLink

There have been numerous posts about Adenium or Desert Rose in the Gardening Club-Qatar Facebook group. Many members have shared their valuable experience about its care in the Gulf conditions, about ways to make it bloom more, methods to save seeds or cuttings and grow more plants from them or where to find the Adenium with the most beautiful flowers.

In this blog post, we are trying to put everything together and also add some advice from our experts’ experience.

Image: Photo by Unmesh V G on Unsplash

Adenium’s common name is Desert Rose, and as indicated by it, it is a sun and heat loving plant and it grows happily in containers or gardens in the Gulf, to add color even at the toughest locations for other plants. Just like Bougainvillea, it requires little water, a lot of light and very little care other than that.

Here are some tips, to help you care best for your Adenium:

Sun: Place it under full sun all year round.

Soil: Adeniums like well-drained soil, so you should add more perlite in your potting mix. If you plant in the soil, you can use more sand than usual.

Water: Adeniums don’t like a lot of water, so you should let the soil completely dry before you water again (in the winter it can take up to even a week, depending on the pot size and the soil used). You will notice that as the weather gets more hot, the soil will be drying out faster, until around the 15-30 of May, when you will have to be watering daily, until end of September.

Fertilizer: you can add your regular compost at the end of the summer (first half of October) and then you can keep adding compost every 3-4 weeks, until mid May. If you don’t mind using chemical fertilizers, you can replace compost with a fertilizer high in P (like 15-30-15) 3 times a year.

Pruning: Adeniums are very forgiving plants when it comes to pruning, and actually they grow back even prettier, when pruned strictly.  So when you see your plants getting too long and floppy and giving less flowers, it’s time to take out your scissors!

Flowering: if your Adenium has slowed down on flowering, offer more sun, cut down on watering and don’t be afraid to prune it back a lot.

Propagation by seeds: Seeds start forming inside pods at around April and they keep maturing until June. You can try tying the pods with a soft thread and keep watching, especially close to the time of maturing (beginning of June). You will recognize when the time gets closer, as the pods will start drying. At that time, you can also cover them with a bag. Even if tying is not successful, you might still be able to save some hairy seeds. Remove the hairy part and spread the seeds on a light mix of soil, perlite and sand.  They can be kept outdoors, under a 60-70% shading net and as the weather gets hotter, start watering daily.

During the summer you might see many leaves falling. This isn’t always a reason for concern, as after September your plants will start blooming again.