I have always loved gardening, planting, all things green really. I love watching plants grow, and really enjoy the company of green and airy scenery… who doesn’t! With that said, I could be the worst at gardening lol. No really, people who know me well, know that I keep planting things and trying to grow plants, but somehow it never works beyond a certain point! Everything would be going great but suddenly these dainty little pots of plants turn yellow, then brown then brittle… and you know the rest! I never knew what could be going wrong, or what causes my plants to die… until I met Laura and knew about their Balcony & Urban Gardening group. From her I learnt that because the plants suffer from this extreme heat, they actually need food!! I learnt how often, how much and when to water plants (as it turns out there are times during the day that watering would cause the plant to die!). I also learnt how to organically fertilise these plants… among many other tips… I could not be happier, except when I learnt that you really do not need a garden to garden! That you can also do this on your balcony… Now am really waiting to finish all the lined up work I have, which is near and I am so going to garden, I am worried I will create a jungle in that tiny balcony I have :))
Most interesting to me though, was the fact that plants (a big variety of them) can actually grow in this hot city. Yes they can, and Laura’s balcony is living proof. She has herbs (mint, variety of basil, parsley, ginger…) and fruits (figs, banana, lemon) and of course tomatoes, lettuce, chilies, colocasia, celery….! She practically has her ingredients covered! I have always dreamt of having a fresh garden, where I can simply pick my salad ingredients and live the whole ‘plant-to-plate’ process. Love that! Now, we can as this fabulous group in the UAE are showing us how, swopping seeds and plants, sharing tips and ensuring that our plants are well and yielding 🙂
Watch as Laura tells us about her passion for growing her own plants, and shares her tips to get your balcony garden started, explaining soil, organic fertilisers, and how to care for your plant in this climate. Then watch how I literally almost fainted when she introduced me to her compost tea (miracle plant food) which the plants absolutely adore, but my weak side could not handle!!
Every body complains about the organic produce prices being so high. Well here you go, buy at the farmers market and grow some of your own, and you shall never complain about organic prices again 😉
Come back tomorrow for part 2 – Planting Tips by the Balcony & Urban Gardening Group to ensure you have a “Balcony Miracle Garden” :))
Balcony & Urban Gardening
Group – UAE
- Meeting up once or twice a month to discuss ideas.
- Swop seeds (heirloom only please!!).
- Hold short workshops.
- Visit gardens, nurseries and farms in the UAE.
You can join our group on Facebook, where you can ask and find information about any gardening subject as well as join our activities.
Facebook Page: Balcony And Urban Gardening Group in the UAE
Laura Allais-Mare is a trained Chef (she was trained in Italy) and a restaurant owner in South Africa. Her passion for food came from her mother, who was herself involved in Slow Food in South Africa and even started her own edible snail farm. Back in South Africa, Laura worked closely with the local farming communities, working with an organisation that empowered farmers to sustain their business by providing them with heirloom varieties of seeds. By doing this, Laura explains, farmers are able to dry out the seeds from one harvest and re-use them the next year, according to old-fashioned farming principles, rather than buying the seeds each year (necessary for genetically modified varieties), which can be a bankrupting expense for small-scale farmers.
Today Laura is the leader of the Dubai Convivium of Slow Food and is the founder of the Balcony &Urban Gardening Group. Her mission is to empower people to think about sustainable ways to live and empower locals to reserve their cultural food and local cuisine.