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Don't know what is growing in my garden!!

Posted by KA_Dubai Middle East Desert (My Page) on
Wed, Aug 28, 13 at 3:20

Hello Everyone. I have around 7 different plant species growing wild in my garden which I haven't planted.

A little background about me and my garden: I am a complete beginner in the field of gardening. I have grown up around gardens but it has always been taken care by paid professionals. I am now in a time in my life where I want to learn everything about gardening and grown organic food which I can consume, and I also have a huge interest in how nature works and would like to not take it for granted anymore.

I live in Dubai, UAE. For those who don't know much about this place it's natural state is a desert but if you provide enough water there can be greenery here. The only exception being during the summer months where the climate is very hot. Here is a link on the climate of Dubai: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_of_Dubai.

I have recently moved into a new house with my wife and it has a small garden. The area I am in is surrounded by tall building and there is also construction going on nearby, so there is a lot of dust. When I moved in, the house had been vacant for a while so no one had maintained the garden. When I arrived there was many bold patches of grass. The trees around the edges were all alive and fine. I immediately began operating the irrigation system, and set the watering time to start at 4:30am and go on for 3 minutes. I was advised that as soon as the water is back on, the garden should restore to its previous state. So I waited for a few months and the grass wasn�t getting better, but the trees started to grow more and look healthy.

Around mid June of this year, I increased the watering to 2 times a day adding a watering at 6:30 pm for 3 minutes (Sunset is around 7pm). After this change, I noticed that the grass area started becoming more active and more green, even though the temperature was rising.

Anyway I�m at a stage now where there are random things growing in my garden, and I don�t know if it�s poisonous or healthy for the root system. I do intend to start planting vegetable in fruits by mid September this year which I�m expecting the temperatures to start falling a little.

I really appreciate any guidance and advice from you all. I will post pictures of the different plants and of my overall garden when I moved in.

Thank You.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Don't know what is growing in my garden!!

Picture of my garden when I just moved in - Corner 1


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RE: Don't know what is growing in my garden!!

Corner 2


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RE: Don't know what is growing in my garden!!

This is the first growth amongst the grass that I would like help identifying.

Thanks Again!


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RE: Don't know what is growing in my garden!!

Just from hearing the story, I was going to guess 'purslane' and that 3rd photo looks like purslane, also known as 'portulaca oleracea'.

If so, it is quite tasty and nutritious, as well as a companion plant. I encourage it in my garden and eat it both cooked and raw.

You can cut it to eat and it will grow back. You can walk on it. And it will reseed itself vigorously, especially if watered.

The link below should help with identification:

Here is a link that might be useful: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portulaca_oleracea


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RE: Don't know what is growing in my garden!!

Yes, it does look like purslane, an obnoxious weed that will come up forever.

3 minutes doesn't seem like a long time to irrigate, to do any good.

Do you know what those vines are, growing up the walls?


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Three minutes of irrigation? I guess water must be more expensive in Dubai, but that amount won't do a thing for your garden. Brief watering just leads to plants that have shallow roots. Deeply rooted plants can handle drought better.


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the things we take for granted not living in a dessert- weeds and grass.


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  • Posted by KA_Dubai Middle East Desert (My Page) on
    Wed, Aug 28, 13 at 13:01

Thanks all for the information on the first growth. The vines on the wall are branches of a tree (not sure what kind of tree). This post has the second growth. These plants seem to spread horizontally rather then growing upwards.. This particular growth seems to be growing in many areas. Do I need to get rid of it to make way for vegetable and fruit plants? I'm watering 3 minutes twice a day so a total of 6 minutes and am doing it at times when the sun isn't very strong to avoid evaporation. Do you think I need to increase the frequency of water or keep it at 2 times a day but increase it to 5 minutes each? The sprinklers are spread well all around the garden.


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RE: Don't know what is growing in my garden!!

  • Posted by KA_Dubai Middle East Desert (My Page) on
    Wed, Aug 28, 13 at 13:18

Here is a picture of the 3rd growth. Thanks for the help.


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RE: Don't know what is growing in my garden!!

That third one looks like a white Catharanthus roseus. That is if those are white flowers and not just light reflecting off the foliage.

Here is a link that might be useful: White Catharanthus roseus


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RE: Don't know what is growing in my garden!!

The one spreading horizontally looks like spurge, which can be mistaken for purslane and is mildly poisonous. Also difficult to uproot.


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I agree that 3 or even 5 minutes seems too little for sprinkling. When you get to growing vegetables in the desert environment I believe that drip irrigation is by far best. This has been researched extensively in israel.


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I would water for an hour each time you water. The last picture looks like vinca to me.


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Yup, looks like vinca.

I echo the advice to increase your watering time. Three minutes will barely moisten the dust on top. Use a spade and dig down about 20 cm - is it moist all the way down? If not, you need to increase the watering time. Since your soil is extremely well-drained, you'll need to determine the optimum time yourself, and may also need to add a third watering, at least until the weather cools.

You have some excellent green manure now! Hoe and till it all into the soil now so it breaks down in time for planting (keep watering during this period to hasten decomposition).


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This is the 4th growth.. I'm definetly going to look into optimizing the moisture in my garden. I don't want to start yet until I clear what I want removed from the garden. Instead of hoeing and tilling to get the soil ready, I have researched that you could also place a few layers of newspaper, then add mulch and wood chipping on top. Please advice if this is a good technique. Also do you think I should remove most of these growths that I have shown or keep them? I like the fact that they appeared naturally, but I don't want something invasive that may upset my root system for more important plants.


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This picture is of something that is growing together with the grass. It looks a lot like grass but then it has leaves at the top. I'm most probably going to remove this as well but just curious to know what naturally grows here. Thanks.


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The term 'Vinca' is used in the US as a common name for Catharanthus roseus, the name I suggested earlier. So we are actually agreed on that id.

This common name causes endless confusion. Botanically speaking Vinca is a genus of hardy vines.


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Yes, you could simply lay cardboard over that greenery, and then hold the cardboard down with wood chips or anything, really. Then run your sprinklers to keep the cardboard damp and it will all decompose fairly quickly.


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Mulch is certainly good to hold moisture in the soil, particularly in arid locations.

I'd avoid tilling the purslane into the soil. That stuff can root from fragments and just keep growing. Whatever you do, don't let it flower, or the seeds will be sprouting all your life.

This post was edited by ltilton on Thu, Aug 29, 13 at 8:53


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  • Posted by glib 5.5 (My Page) on
    Thu, Aug 29, 13 at 10:49

Purslane is the only edible thing he has. And it is such a high quality vegetable. I would just pick and eat it.


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Unless purslane is what the OP wants to eat, he should get rid of it, as planned.


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  • Posted by glib 5.5 (My Page) on
    Thu, Aug 29, 13 at 14:01

Right now it is eat purslane or eat nothing. And purslane will mulch. Not many wood chips in Dubai.


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Eat the purslane! Or at least find out if you like it. Free vegetables! Very tasty, very healthy for you. Yes, it's a weed and it will spread. More free vegetables!

In Mexico they cook it with eggs.

The Greeks have a few recipes with it.

And it is used in some Arab salads - see link. I mostly just snack on it when I am gardening.

Here is a link that might be useful: http://redhookcsa.com/2011/08/15/purslane-cucumber-tomatoes/


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Any idea what this is?


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Here is a close up of it.


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Yes, presumably wood chips as well as any sort of compost are hard to come by in the desert. Thanks to worldwide commerce, probably cardboard is available in quantity so one could just keep laying it on and keep it wet. Weight it down with rocks.


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Thanks again for all the advice. I am now planning to get some cardboard and some imported wood chips. I will lay these down in a section of the garden where I intend to put the fruit and vegetable plants. For the rest of the garden I want it to look as natural as possible so I will leave it as it is and only get rid of the Spurge. I have been researching about the Spurge and I believe the best way to get rid of it is also to deprive it of sun light so I intend to use the cardboard on it as well. I will probably through some lawn seeds on top after it has decomposed...

Any recommendation on beginner plants to grow that's easy?


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Great advice here, check out the square foot gardening section for ways to grow in smaller spaces. You don't have to raise the beds, it is for info on the cardboard system for stopping future weeds. If you want to get the beds a foot or so deep, you can use bricks, concrete blocks, or anything you can think of to make a border.

Fast growing and quick satisfaction, radishes are under a month, and you can eat the green tops as well. We also cook the radishes themselves, take kind of like cauliflower.

Cheri


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Given your hot climate, you'll want to start off with heat-loving crops to plant first, followed by cool-season crops when daytime temperatures drop into the 80s. Basically, reverse the order followed by most U.S gardeners. For example, you can plant okra now (or any time during the spring and summer, really). You'll want to research what other veggies are grown around there and take the heat - a lot of plants in the okra family are eaten as food there.
In about a month, you'll be able to direct seed peppers, zucchini and tomatoes, but keep the soil shaded and cool while they germinate.


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