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A guide to growing fruits and vegetables in the UAE

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) boasts a unique climate, characterised by scorching summers and mild winters

While this might seem like a challenge for homegrown produce, with the right knowledge and planning, you can cultivate a thriving fruit and vegetable garden throughout the year.

The key to a flourishing garden in the UAE lies in understanding the two distinct seasons: the hot season (June to September) and the cool season (October to May). During the hot season, temperatures soar, coupled with intense sunlight and low humidity. Conversely, the cool season offers pleasant temperatures, moderate humidity, and occasional rainfall, making it ideal for most plant growth.

Cool Season (October to May)

This period presents the prime opportunity to plant a vast array of fruits and vegetables. Here’s a breakdown of some popular options and their ideal planting months:

  • Leafy Greens: Embrace the joy of fresh salads with vegetables like lettuce (October-November), spinach (October-March), kale (October-March), and Swiss chard (October-March). These thrive in cooler temperatures and provide a constant supply of vitamins and minerals.

  • Brassicas: The cool season welcomes members of the Brassicaceae family, including broccoli (October-November), cauliflower (October-November), Brussels sprouts (October-November), and cabbage (October-March).

  • Root Vegetables: Plant root vegetables like carrots (October-November), beets (October-November), radishes (October-November), and turnips (October-December) for their delicious sweetness and versatility in cooking.

  • Herbs: Fresh herbs elevate any dish. Opt for planting basil (October-March), parsley (October-March), coriander (October-March), mint (October-March), and chives (October-March) for a constant supply of aromatic flavours.

  • Fruits: The cool season caters to a delightful selection of fruits. Strawberries (October-November) can be grown in containers, while stone fruits like peaches, plums, and nectarines (November-January) flourish with proper care.

Hot Season (June to September)

While the hot season poses a challenge for most cool-season vegetables, it’s not devoid of potential. Here are some heat-tolerant plants that thrive under the UAE’s summer sun:

  • Cucurbits: Embrace the refreshing world of melons (May-June) like watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew. Additionally, cucumbers (May-June) and pumpkins (May-June) can be successfully cultivated using shade cloths and proper watering techniques.

  • Okra: This versatile vegetable (May-June) thrives in the UAE’s hot and humid summers, adding a unique texture and flavour to stews and curries.

  • Eggplant: Eggplant (May-June) enjoys the warmth and produces delicious fruit throughout the summer months.

  • Peppers: Spice up your meals with hot peppers (May-June) like chilli peppers and jalapeños, which are well-suited to the UAE’s summer climate.

Embracing Local and Native Plants

While a plethora of international fruits and vegetables can be grown in the UAE, consider incorporating some local and native plants into your garden. These plants are well-adapted to the UAE’s climate and require minimal maintenance:

  • Date Palm: The iconic date palm tree is a symbol of the UAE and thrives in the hot, arid climate. Dates are a delicious and nutritious fruit.

  • Ziziphus mauritiana (Jujube): This drought-tolerant tree produces sweet, date-like fruits perfect for snacking.

  • Aerva Javanica (Chop Choy): This leafy green vegetable is a common ingredient

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