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26/08/2012 at 07:30

Hi, This is my first post on the forum.

I am currently working in Afghanistan (Kabul area) and am trying to make a small garden, The soil here can best be described as fine dust and has no nutrients. Everything i have tried to grow dies after a few weeks, it will germinate and grow a few inches, then wilt. The onlt thing I have been sucessful with is Geraniums, I have tried Roses (3 died and only 1 is still growing, Sunflowers, Onion, Lettuce, Squash and some wild flowers. 

I have added local compost but that didn't help much, I would be grateful for any advice on what sort of plants/vegies to grow in dry dusty conditions. Just looking to make our compound more colourful and look like home.

26/08/2012 at 07:47
Welcome to the forum Budgeio. Sounds as though you have a tough job on your hands, probably in more ways than one! What sort of plants have you seen in the local area? That might give you some idea. I am sure some of our Gardener's who are more expert areas will come up with some suggestions. What will the winter conditions be like?
26/08/2012 at 07:55
Hi again, just put a search into google for flora in Afghanistan, it mentions artemisia, phlomis, nepeta, thyme and mint. also says there are wild tulips. Haven't worked out how to paste the address using an iPad, but you will find it easily on google. Hope this helps with some ideas.
26/08/2012 at 08:00

Hi Budgeio and Good Luck!!!

My first thought is that these http://www.thompson-morgan.com/flowers/flower-plants/annual-plants/mesembryanthemum-magic-carpt-mixed/p94640TM should grow at least in the spring/summer - but if you get hard winters they wouldn't survive to the following year, but the seeds are not expensive - and although they are fairly drought tolerant you'd probably have to water them quite a bit in your conditions.

As for veggies - no idea really - the veggies we're used to growing need or sort of climate - have a look and see what the locals are growing.

I'll have another think and if I come up with anything else I'll post again. 

26/08/2012 at 08:05
Apparently you can grow cabbages and radishes!
26/08/2012 at 08:39

Creating something 'like home' would be pretty difficult, because England is not Afghanistan. The main difference being the constant rain which makes everything here green.

Every country has/had its kings, and they always had nice gardens, wherever they were. There are/were some famous gardens in Afghanistan. There's one called the Garden of Babur, once the home of some mogul emperor...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gardens_of_Babur

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/bf/GOB-September_2011.jpg/800px-GOB-September_2011.jpg

Those flowers look very much like roses to me.

You could try the sort of annuals that grow in South Africa, or maybe poppies (we all know poppies grow well in Afghanistan). Californian poppies are colourful, easy to grow, and like it hot.

26/08/2012 at 08:46

Thanks for your comments, We have very cold winters here, went down to -18 this year. Winter goes from late December to late March. Summer tops out around high 30s to low 40s, inbetween that it is up and dow. We are 1800mtr above sea level, so all-in-all not the best growing conditions. I brought back some Coir growning discs and can get seedling growning but they then struggle when out in soil.

Locally Roses, Geranium grow very well.

26/08/2012 at 09:14

The problem with looking at the grand gardens of the rulers etc is that they had access to cheap/free labour and lots of water, with specialist irrigation systems, and probably lots of stable manure - not sure if Budgieo has these resources 

It's like us going to Chatsworth and Kew and trying to emulate their gardens - almost anything is possible with sufficient funds - hence all the golf courses in Saudi - http://www.rainbird.com/worldwide/MiddleEast.htm

Much better to look at the native flora and what's growing in the local villagers' gardens IMHO.

26/08/2012 at 09:51

Now I thought that this was the reason behind the war. The only successful crop that they can grow is poppies and we have said that we do not want them to grow this. I would look at what is for sale locally because they must be growing that

26/08/2012 at 10:11
I just read a really interesting article via google about farmers who are now growing flowers to sell instead of opium poppies. Apparently they can make more money from selling the flowers than they can from the poppies. They seem to be selling them locally, but wouldn't it be great if they could sell their flowers outside the country and earn a better income.
26/08/2012 at 10:50

I believe that the bulk of some varieties of florists' flowers (such as roses) sold in the UK are actually grown on farms in places like South Africa. Although they have difficulties watering them, and there are significant transportation costs, it's still more economical to grow them there than here. Part of the reason may be because of the much lower cost of labour involved in picking. And of course they have reliable weather.

26/08/2012 at 11:20
You're right there Gary, there is also the cost of heating the greenhouses in Northern Europe if you want an early crop. It's a dilemma for customers though as with other products. Do you buy British with lower flower miles or help developing countries with their export potential? Jordan grows roses for sale in Europe. I like to use flowers for the garden in the house in the summer.
26/08/2012 at 11:29

And another reason may be that the export of flowers to the West provides foreign revenue to buy imported goods with, rather than growing crops to feed the Kenyan people 

26/08/2012 at 11:34
Good point Dovefromabove, that is particularly the case with oil crops like palm oil etc.

Budgeio, you can see how our conversations tend to meander from the original post. I love that.
26/08/2012 at 11:41
Penninepetal wrote (see)
...Do you buy British with lower flower miles or help developing countries with their export potential? ...

Personally, I have a very rational and unsentimental view about sourcing produce.

From the point of view of helping the entire world, it is best if every country is able to do whatever it can, however little that is. So if some country is able to grow something, but can't do anything else, then they should be encouraged to do that, even if we could do it ourselves. We should be devoting our efforts to improving the sorts of things that we do best.

Many arguments about food miles are quite spurious. You burn more petrol driving to the supermarket than is used to transport the food you buy half-way round the world.

When you buy an apple in the shops, the cost of transportation is part of the price. You can buy apples grown in New Zealand for the same price as home grown. I just buy the cheapest. Just as New Zealand can send its apples to us, our growers should be exporting to New Zealand, during the months when apples are out of season there.

26/08/2012 at 17:36

Your right there Penninepetal, total off track lol.

Today the weather went from mid 30's to a massive Hail storm that lasted about 30 mins, so you can imagine how this effects the plants. Poppies are in abundance especially in helmand and they grow very well, just not the best thing to grow on a NATO base lol. think I need to get some Camel poo to help everything along.

26/08/2012 at 17:52
Perhaps we need to get Gardener's World on this and get a team out there to help you! They've helped army wives in the UK, perhaps they could go further afield.
26/08/2012 at 21:19

Hi Budgieo. I've found a link that may help. Apparently there are some gardening projects already underway in Afghanistan. Hope this link helps.

http://defiantgardens.com/category/afghanistan/

Jean.

27/08/2012 at 04:22

Jean,

I have been to the Garden In Lashkar Gah in 2007 when I was working there, it had just been built and was a good escape for 10 to 15 mins for the troops to take your mind of a not so nice day.

27/08/2012 at 08:27

Morning Budgieo. I've no concept of distance or travelling time but my idea was that maybe you could get in touch with the other people and that they could give you some help and ideas. Good luck with your project.

Jean.

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