When I came to Doha, the challenges I cherish the most were to continue gardening and I surround myself with nature lovers. I wanted to meet all the “green thumbs” in Doha and learn how to create a desert oasis at my doorstep. I came across an amazingly active Indian community, lots of the members being from the beautiful and green Kerala region. This week, I finally got had a chance to visit Nadjma’s garden, one of the founders of Adukkalathottam Doha community.
Nadjma is a passionate lady who grows enough food in her backyard to feed a family of 4. After sharing with me precious advice and tips over the phone last year, she invited me to her home and gave me a vivifying tour of her garden.
Nadjma has been in Qatar for the last 20 years and said she gardens everywhere she lived. She says that “being Indian and from Kerala, Nature is part of who I am ». Years ago, after settling in Doha, she quickly regroups with some friends to form a garden club, exchanging seeds, vegetables and their love for growing a healthy lifestyle! Being an eternal learner, she used vacation time back home to take new courses and then teaches and shares her knowledge with neophyte gardeners when she is in Qatar.The association Name is adukkalathottam.doha
SEEDS AND SPECIES
Nadjma’s garden is filled with more than 45 different species of vegetables, fruits, legumes, trees, medicinal plants and flowers. Most of the seeds being initially brought from India, she said, “at first, the yields were poor, but after collecting the second generation of seeds, the plants adjusted to Qatar’s climate and the yield were much better”. She, however, mentioned that even with a lot of effort, ginger does not grow well here. During the winter, she is self-sufficient for almost 95% of her vegetable consumption, growing tomatoes, zucchini, onions, beans, cucumbers, eggplant and much more.
BIODIVERSITY AND NATURAL PESTICIDES
Walking around the garden, you see lots of butterflies, bees and insects. Hungry birds being a problem especially when eating the seeds, she embraces the wildlife and feed the birds, trying to keep them away from the precious harvest.
Where Nadjma impressed me further was with the technic used to keep the pest away in a safe and natural ways. To outsmart the birds, she uses CD disks to reflect light. For insects, blue and yellow recycled plastic containers coated with castor oil, attract and capture specific flies. Always in prevention mode, Nadjma has a well-planned daily routine spraying the garden with various leaves infusion acting as pest repellent or adding natural nutritious mixtures to promote growth and blooming. Here is some homemade and natural fertilizers and secrets she shared with us :
1) Egg-shell powder to provide calcium for her very tasty tomatoes.
2) Turmeric powder sprinkled on your plant or salades to keep pest away
3) Compost tea (mixture of 1 kg of leaves from Neem trees, Moringa, Sidra with manure and 10 L of water) let fermented during 3 to 4 days. When bubbles appear it is ready! Mixed it well, filter and use 10 ml of the mixture in 1L of water, add to soil.
3) 1 tsp of wheat flour + 2 tsp of baking Soda + 1 L of water. Mix and spray for 10 days during the evening.
4) Egg with lemon fertilizer recipe
In the desert, watering is essential and the garden needs daily caring. In winter Nadjma waters the plants between once a day to once every 3 days. However, as the weather gets warmer, she waters 2 times a day, early in the morning and after sunset.
GARDENING ALL YEAR LONG!
Nadjma’s garden stay green all year long. In the summer, some plants still grow like: curry leaves, lady’s fingers (Okra), sweet watermelon, some variety of cucumbers, and Indian spinach… Although she could garden all summer, Nadjma goes back to India for holidays, letting her garden rest and nourishes himself. This is when the dry leaves and compost work their magic and prepare the soil to feed next season’s harvest. During that time, Nadjma keep feeding her love and passion for agriculture knowledge, herbal medicine and health!
Long live this generous passionate lady, her Doha Oasis and gardening community !