Garden Update: March 2016

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This is my second garden update since moving to our new villa in Dubai in late 2014. Here is the previous post: Dubai Garden Update – February 2016.

My kids helping to water the community garden
My kids helping to water the community garden

As usual, the weeks tend to fly by so fast that March has come and gone before I realize that I hadn’t posted a garden update.

As my parents’ and in-laws’ gardens in New York and Scotland are emerging from the cold and seeds are being sown, I feel that the gardening season here in Dubai is starting to wind down. The days are “heating up” so fast that new seedlings risk dying from the soil drying out very quickly. But established plants are thriving! Our curry leaf plant, jasmine, Australian gold vine, and plumeria are sending out new shoots like crazy.

Dubai’s First Urban Rooftop Garden

While my mom was here in February, the Urban Rooftop Garden Project (in Tecom), where I volunteer once a week to water the established plants and nursery, was officially inaugurated.

Lots of fellow garden enthusiasts, hotel staff from Time Oak hotels (who sponsored the project), and members of the press were there to commemorate the event. You can read more about the inauguration via this links on What’s On Dubai and The National. Look out for pictures of Wee Scotch and Li’L Ginger!


My Square Foot Garden Update

Some of the plants were growing so fast I almost couldn’t keep up with harvesting them – like the salad leaves and herbs. Some plants have already bolted to seed like the rocket/arugula and all the basils (sweet, thai, and purple shisho).

Square Foot gardening is based on the gardening concepts from Mel Bartholomew and I hope to write more about how to set up your own in Dubai soon.

Comparison photo – Last month (February 1st):

Dubai Garden Feb 2016

Comparison Photo – This month (March 1st):

Square Foot Garden - March 2016
Square Foot Garden – March 1, 2016

Cherry Tomatoes
Coconut Palm
Green Beans
Miniature Rose
Citrus – Kumquat Orange Seedling
Citrus – Mandarin
Herbs: Chives, Cilantro, Lavender, Mint, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, Thyme

Cherry Tomatoes

We will soon have our first harvest of cherry tomatoes. Those plants grew like crazy! Look at the photos above to see how much growth they had in one month – nearly taller then the wall.

I also have a few tomato plants in a pot. The plant in the center has been a real survivor: I found it growing between the pavement and our mini-lawn so moved it into the pot. It then got dug up by a cat and disappeared then reappeared limp and crushed days later. I re-potted it again wondering if it would survive and it did!  [back to quick links]

Tomato plants in pot
Tomato plants in pot


We bought two fully grown papaya plants in early 2015. We weren’t sure if they were male or female. When both plants flowered, I still couldn’t distinguish the sex.

But this past Christmas, one of our papayas began to bear fruit and it’s really exciting to see them grow so big before our eyes!  [back to quick links]

Papaya Tree with Fruit
Papaya Tree with Fruit

Mandarin Orange

This month, we gave the mandarin orange plant a good rinse and filled up the pot with more soil.

We’ve all given up trying to eat the fruit – way too sour! However, Little Ginger enjoys just plucking the fruit off the plant and hiding them in pots.

Although we can’t enjoy the fruit, it gives us all great joy to see and walk past the plant throughout our day.  [back to quick links]

Mandarin Orange Plant
Mandarin Orange Plant

Mandarin Orange Plant
Mandarin Orange Plant

Kumquat Orange

I have been obsessed with growing a kumquat orange plant. This is our umpteenth attempt but the first one where we grew the seed in wet tissue first instead of planting the seed directly into the ground.

I don’t know why the bottom leaves dry up like that. I don’t know if it’s leaf burn or lack of water but some of the other seedlings would lose one dry leaf after another until there were no more leaves to lose and the plant was left with just a stem. Sadness.

Really hoping this plant will survive – out of 13 or so seedlings that we rooted, this is the only surviving one.  [back to quick links]

Kumquat orange plant
Kumquat orange plant

Green Beans

We had a harvest of beans which snuck up from under us. I didn’t expect any beans to be ready so boy was I surprised when I lifted up the few leaves to discover enough beans for a dinner side dish. I quickly called the kids over and they were so excited to help with the harvest.

We couldn’t be more pleased. Me for not having to drive to a grocery store or resorting to frozen veg, and the kids for the fun they had picking beans that they had planted themselves.  [back to quick links]

Dwarf Green Beans
Dwarf Green Beans

Every Yellow Rose Has a Story

This miniature yellow rose has really come back from the dead. Yellow is my favorite color so I couldn’t resist this miniature rose bush at Waitrose. It was sold indoors so I thought it would make a great indoor plant.

However, the day that I bought it, I accidentally left it in the trunk of my car  where it may have been overheated for a day. I then brought it into the kitchen which doesn’t get much light but since I thought it was an indoor plant, I figured it would do fine.

But all its leaves dried up including the flower buds that hadn’t even bloomed yet. Disappointed and saddened, I stripped off all the dead leaves and tossed the plant outdoors, giving up on it. My gardener watered it along with my other outdoor plants and a few short weeks later, it was healthier than before and full of yellow blooms!  [back to quick links]

Mandarin Orange Plant
Mandarin Orange Plant

Baby Carrots

We planted baby carrot seeds on January 10th. The children enjoy planting and plucking the plant more than actually eating it.

The carrots are still quite small so we will leave it alone for another month.  [back to quick links]

Baby Carrots in Pot
Baby Carrots in Pot

Arugula / Rocket

Arugula (or “rocket” to some of you) is one of my favorite salad plants. I tend to always grow too much of it and can’t keep up with the harvest so they end up going to seed. Which isn’t a bad thing because I collect the seeds to grow for the next planting.

I have a long story about how I bought every kind of arugula seed I could find in order to find the kind I liked. Who knew there were so many different kinds of arugula!

This particular arugula species is on the top of my list right now – I think it is an Italian varietal and was gifted to me last year from Laura of Slow Food Dubai. I saved the seeds from the plant and grew them in my square foot garden earlier this year. The plant’s tiny yellow flowers are just beautiful!  [back to quick links]

Arugula flowers
Arugula flowers

Coconut Palm:

My husband wanted something BIG to visually break up our long and narrow garden and he settled on this coconut palm which we are hoping will survive in a pot.  [back to quick links]

Coconut Palm in pot
Coconut Palm in pot


All the herbs are growing well – maybe too well! Again, I can’t keep up with the harvest sometimes!

Here are the photos in the slideshow (click here if not visible for any reason):


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  1. Wow, so much lush greenery in one post! Love those mandarin oranges the most! Wish I could have enough patience to grow a garden!

  2. So refreshing to see all this greenery. Great job! I, for one, find gardening very therapeutic in nature.

    1. I’m sure you can! For Dubai, best to start the seeds indoor in September and then move them out when the roots are established and busting out of those small germination pots.