Growing vegetables in Dubai the desert city? Unbeleafable

Sam George Abraham and his edible garden

What began as a lesson for his daughters about vegetables eventually became a full-fledged hobby for Sam George Abraham.

“My interest in growing vegetables started back in 2011. I wanted to show my daughters where their food comes from and how it is cultivated. I didn’t want them taking their food for granted or thinking everything comes from the supermarket,” said Sam, a technician by trade.

Sam’s pride and joy is his ‘balcony’ garden – with more than 10 varieties of fruits, vegetables and herbs – along a busy street in Hor Al Anz, Deira. The luscious garden of edible greens is one surprising sight in the middle of the concrete jungle that is Dubai.

“Depending on the season, I can harvest up to 15kg of produce, including tomatoes, bitter gourds, aubergines and chillis. I’ll share the excess crops with my neighbours and friends,” Sam added.

The harsh summer months in Dubai are not conducive for growing, Sam explained, so he restarts the cycle and plants seeds at the end of October. The seedlings will usually start flowering in December and bear fruits by January.

Sam’s resourcefulness shows in the wooden shelves and trellises he built outside his one-bedroom apartment to maximise space, and developed his own drip irrigation system that drips water directly onto the roots and minimises evaporation. Sam’s planting pots are also repurposed yoghurt tubs.

“The garden has now become the whole family’s responsibility. Even my two young daughters are very familiar with the gardening process and help with the seeding and watering on weekends,” he shared.

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