A vegetable paradise in the middle of winter

I love the way seeds have been engineered to create interesting looking crops but deep inside I don't feel a connection with hybrids. I always feel they are not natural.

Zahra Ali September 18, 2010
Wouldn't you just love to have a garden that produces fresh, scrumptious vegetables all year long? It is that time of the year when gardeners from colder countries are preparing for the icy winters that will bring a long pause to their gardening activities. But for us it is just the beginning of a very fruitful and  colorful winter.

I have been waiting for September to spread the spell of fertility into my garden. As it is finally here I better get my plan for a rooftop vegetable farm ready.

It is essential to have a good plan for a successful vegetable garden. Each vegetable will have different requirements. Here are some basics that I kept in mind before I made my plan. You can do the same.

Find your zone

Each city has a different growing zone that is calculated by the lowest winter temperatures it get. For example in zone three, the lowest winter temperature ranges between minus 30 to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit and in zone 10 it ranges between 30 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. It is a good idea to calculate what the range in you area is before you begin to select seeds.

Crop timings

There are mainly two seasons to grow crops; summer and winter. You will have a wide range of vegetables to chose from in both cool-season and warm season crops. Most of the time imported seed packs will say that that the plant needs to be grown in summers but you need to be wise here. Notice the minimum temperature  it says is needed for the seed to germinate. You will learn that this is your winter temperature!

Know your seed

Once you know which vegetables you want to grow, you need understand the difference between the seeds:
Heirlooms: These vegetables have been been grown for at least 50 years. They are known for their color, taste and for being organic. These seeds have been passed down by generations. When you replant the seeds from the same vegetable you will get reap a harvest.
Hybrids: These are the result of the cross breeding that is mainly done to produce a  pest resistant harvest which is goodin terms of  color and  increased flavor. You will need to buy new seed packs each season.

Personally, although I love the way seeds have been engineered to create interesting looking crops but deep inside I don't feel a connection with hybrids. Somehow I always feel they are not a part of nature as it is. Still, I always end up having some hybrids in my garden as well.

Selecting vegetables

Keep in mind the space you have and the amount of sunlight it gets. Most crops need a minimum of 6 hour in direct sun light. Some will need partial sunlight as well. If you are short of space, you can always take your garden to your rooftop like I have done and grow your favorite seasonal vegetables at home!

Map out your garden

You garden must be well designed . Map your garden by placing the taller plants at the back and the shortest in front. It would be even better if you play with the contrasting crops.

Continous harvest

Wouldn't you just love to keep your garden producing scrumptious food for you? Keep some space vacant for future plants. In order to guarantee continuous harvest plant seeds every 2 to 3 weeks.

Keep these points in mind when you are ordering your seed packs. Go for a reputable seed store even if you have to pay little extra.

I received my seed packs last month. Since I am expanding my rooftop garden, I have a lot more space so I need more seeds. The seeds I have ordered include three different types of tomatoes (for paste, canning and for salads) baby corn, eggplant, brussels sprouts, courgettes, melon, pumpkin, salad leaf, colored bell peppers, celery, cucumber, bitter gourd, garlic chives, purple ruffled basil, mint, parsley etc

This season I am aiming for a perfect and productive vegetable rooftop garden. Why don't you grow some crops with me and make your own rooftop garden?
Zahra Ali A freelance writer, gardening teacher and environmentalist. She has been spreading the message of natural living through her blog 'Crops in Pots' since 2008
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Zahra Ali | 13 years ago | Reply Thanks Munira, This rooftop vegetable farm is for my family. But the commercial farming is also in the planning stage. Cant say anything yet. But you get get fresh crops from me:D
Munira Zoomkawala | 13 years ago | Reply this is lovely Zahra! I was waiting for you to explain your plan of action :) am now looking fwd to you posting your progress, and of course, more about the mysterious 'drip irrigation system' ;) is all this growing going to be for your own/family's consumption, or do you plan to supply your produce to a local store as well?
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