Mr Treble has helped to set up the DESC farm...
Tell us about your veggie garden…What are you producing?
The Garden is in the early stages. I have grown vegetables here before so I know what works. Tomatoes, radishes, basil grow quickly. Throw the seeds down add water and they grow!!! They love the hot climate. Being a Scientist I have also experimented, trying different fruits and vegetables with good results so far. Growing at present are courgettes, rocket, egg plant, chilies, peppers, melon, cabbage, onions, lettuce and ockra. As a result I have decided to double the size of the garden so that more of these fruits and vegetables can be grown.
How does it all work?
The road to successful growing is the quality of the soil. Dubai has sand, lots of sand! This soil can be acidic and is not ideal for all fruits and vegetables. So it has to be mixed with a good compost. The mix of sand and compost works well. The sand provides good drainage, whilst the compost provides nutrients and reduces the soil pH. Crop rotation is also key and planting in stages so that you are constantly supplied with fruit and vegetables throughout the year. Also knowing when to plant. Rocket likes cooler weather so it is best planted during the winter months. Tomatoes adore heat so they thrive in the summer.
How are the students involved?
I introduced the Garden concept to my Year 8 and Year 9 classes. My groups helped to plant hundreds of seeds and looked after them as they germinated. The small plants were then transplanted into the garden. Over the past few weeks the students helped out with planting more seeds. The interest led to several of these students growing their own plants at home. The garden, now established, will need constant student help. I plan to organise a club to make it accessible to all students.
What do you think they are learning from being involved?
The students have acquired a good understanding of basic gardening. Many have learnt how to grow seeds and when to transplant. That the plants require looking after and that the better the plants are treated the better the rate of growth and the better the quality of the fruit and vegetables. I have also incorporated it into a BLT ‘s lesson for year9. This involves them growing and caring for a pineapple. These are now happily growing in the garden.
Is it true the food is going to be sold in the canteen?
The food is to be sold in the canteen. Peter the canteen boss provided the funds for the seeds and soil. Peter discussed the idea of growing food after watching what Jamie Oliver had been doing with UK schools over healthy eating. We spoke about our ideas and the DESC garden was born. Food is already on sale. The rocket and Radishes went down a treat! More is on the way.
What are your plans for the future?
The Garden is already about to expand. The successful growth of all the trialled plants means we need more space. I plan to try citrus fruits, strawberries, bananas and grapes!
Is it true that chickens are on their way?
Oh yes, chickens are on the way. My mum had chickens and I used to go and collect the fresh eggs for breakfast. They taste so much better than your mass produced supermarket ones. Yummy! Peter and I have discussed the concept and are in the process of designing a air conditioned coup. The plan is that the whole garden becomes self sufficient. The chicken waste to be used as manure for the garden and all the waste being recycled. It’s a slow process but we are getting there.