According to the World Health Organization (WHO), good health means more than just the absence of bad health symptoms. It means the presence of positive emotions, quality of life, sense of community and happiness. Gardening is a fantastic tool to help cultivate these qualities and the best part is that you don’t have to leave the house!
But most people living in Qatar don’t really have a garden, and due to the current situation it is highly recommended that you don’t leave your house unless it’s for the essentials. That’s why this article will focus on using items that you can buy on your weekly shopping trip. All the plants featured will be grown from cuttings and not seeds, and in recycled containers like cans and water bottles. You won’t even need a garden – just a window sill!
Not only will gardening help pass the time spent at home, but UHC Health state that it can help with anxiety, stress relief, and boosting self-esteem. So why not give it a go?
Mint is the staple of any herb garden. You can use it in plenty of recipes – you can even use it to make Moroccan Mint Tea or some homemade Lemon and Mint juice. Luckily mint is a very easy plant to grow – in fact once it grows roots they can take over the whole garden so you’ll want to keep it in its own pot.
Mint is sold in the supermarket in a huge bushel, which is usually far too large and most of it ends up in the bin. This time when you buy mint – don’t throw anything away!
Step 1: Take your individual sprigs of mint and cut them to approximately 8 cm long
Step 2: Over the sink, remove all the leaves along the stem except for the newest leaves at the very top.
Step 3: Save all the leaves you’ve removed to use for cooking or making tea – keep them in the fridge and use them within a few days before they dry up.
Step 4: Put the stems in to a glass of water. That’s all: no magic mixtures or concoctions required! If you don’t want to use a glass you can use an empty bottle of water with the cap removed, or you can rinse out an empty can perhaps – anything that will hold water. There’s no need to buy anything specific to the task, whatever you have lying around the house will be fine as long as its cleaned first.
Step 5: Put your jar of mint in a nice, warm sunny spot by the window and wait for the roots to grow. You’ll want to change the water every few days to avoid mould. In a few weeks you should have plenty of roots and your mint is ready for planting!
Step 6: Most large supermarkets sell pots and soil so you can pick these up on your weekly trip to the shops. A large bag of soil in Carrefour is under QAR40. Mint plants need plenty of drainage so you want to put some sand at the bottom of your pot – that way the water can pool there out of the way of your plant’s roots. You can collect this sand from just about anywhere in Doha – just pull over to the side of the road and grab a scoop or two!
Step 7: Fill about a fifth of your pot with your sandy soil first. Then add your potting soil on top. Fill your pot to about an inch from the top of your pot – you don’t want to fill it all the way to the top or else when you water the plant, water will spill everywhere!
Step 8: Make a small hole in the centre of your soil for your mint. You have to make sure it’s deep enough so that all of your roots will be covered and your plant won’t fall over! When you have added your mint in the hole add some more soil around it. Don’t press the soil down too hard, just a small amount of pressure will do. If you press down on the soil too hard, it’ll become very tightly packed together and the new roots won’t be able to grow through it.
Care: Mint doesn’t need a lot of attention, which makes it the perfect plant for a beginner. Just make sure to water your mint frequently but don’t let the soil get soaking wet. It can handle a bit of shade but prefers lots of sun so put it near a window.
Harvest: The best way to keep your mint healthy is to harvest it frequently; so when you need leaves you pluck them. Remember that new leaves tend to have more flavour than older ones.
Basil is another very hearty plant that doesn’t really need too much attention to grow. It also features in quite a few delicious recipes and you’ll get a much better flavour using fresh leaves than dried ones.
Step 1: After you buy your fresh basil from the supermarket, cut off a four inch section from the top. Make sure that there aren’t any flowers on your cutting.
Step 2: Remove all the leaves from the bottom two inches of the cutting. You can use the leaves you removed to make a delicious pesto sauce perhaps.
Step 3: Put your cutting in a container full of water – just like the mint. For the best results make sure that you use a clear container so that the sunlight can get through and make sure you put it in a nice bright spot by the window.
Step 4: Wait until the roots have grown to about two inches long which should take about two or three weeks.
Step 5: Transfer your cuttings to a pot or container. Basil needs good drainage so you want to choose a pot or a container with a hole in the bottom and a tray underneath. Fill your container with soil and make a small hole with your finger for the cutting. Make sure all the roots are covered in soil.
Care: Basil likes to have moist soil but if you let it soak in water it is prone to root rot. Make sure that you water it a little bit every other day but don’t give it too much. If you notice the leaves starting to sag that means it needs a bit more water. It likes sunlight as well so make sure to put it near a window.
Harvest: Make sure you have a nice bushy plant by cutting off the terminal bud (the bud at the top of the plant.) This will encourage more branches to grow out sideways to create a nice, full plant with lots of big leaves to use in your recipes.
Step 1: Cut off the white bulb at the bottom of the spring onions. Use the stems of the spring onions for your recipe.
Step 2: Add the white bulb to a small glass and fill the glass with water until approximately half of the bulb is covered. Of course, you don’t have to use a glass you can use an empty jar – you can even cut the bottom off a water bottle and use that. There’s no need to spend any money, just make sure that sunlight can get into whatever container you choose.
Step 3: The roots will grow quickly, in fact you should see some growth in just a few days. You will also see the stalk begin to grow back very quickly. Make sure to top up the water every couple of days so it doesn’t run out.
Step 4: A fantastic hack you can use if you don’t want to plant your spring onions in soil is to use a plastic egg carton rather than a glass. Most plastic egg cartons have a top and a bottom section – very carefully cut a hole in the top section of each egg cup. Then you can add water to the bottom section and close the lid. Then insert your spring onion stalks through the holes. The bottom section acts as a small vase for each shoot, and the top section holds the spring onion upright. As long as you keep adding water, the onions will continue to grow and when you need a few for your recipe all you have to do is use some scissors and cut the shoot off the bulb. It’s that easy!
Step 5: If you do want to plant your spring onions in soil wait until they have some more roots – this should take about a week or two. Use a tray or a pot and use your potting soil to fill it. Make a small hole where you want to plant your onion. Make sure that all the roots and white bulb are covered with soil.
Care: All you have to do with spring onions is keep the soil nice and moist.
Harvest: When you find yourself in need for some spring onions all you have to do is cut off what you need. Don’t pull your plant out of the soil, after you cut the shoot off it will keep regrowing to give you an everlasting supply of spring onions.
Let us know how your plants are doing! Send us regular updates on Facebook and Instagram with #MarhabaGrows!
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