zahra.ali

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

Life on the balcony

The number of apartments is growing with increasing population. More buildings usually means less green spaces and a greyer city. Nonetheless, living in an apartment must not keep you away from having a healthy green space. Even small spaces such as a balcony can become a rewarding and refreshing garden of your own. All you need is some planning. What do you want from your garden? Ask yourself, which type of garden you would like to walk into each day? This mostly depends on the space, sun, wind exposure and the irrigation system. But first thing is first. Weight management: Firstly, find ...

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October 28, 2010
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A night out… with plants

It was a very pleasant night with beautiful moonlight glittering on my terrace when I decided to do all the garden jobs that had been pending for a week. Transplanting vegetable seedlings The seeds that I had sown earlier were ready to be transplanted. During the week, I had bought large containers and filled them with a good mixture of soil and manure for my vegetable plants. I spent some time marking the pots and transplanting the tomato and bell-pepper plants into the large pots. It had to be done quickly and correctly. Seedlings must have moist soil  and two sets of true leaves prior to transplantation. The roots ...

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October 16, 2010
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Are you going to pig out today?

One billion people are hungry and I am so angry! Next time you are having your favorite meal at a restaurant, remember that 1 billion people around the world are facing chronic hunger. When we eat more than we need, we are making someone, somewhere starve. The plate is half empty It is extremely heart rending to know that more than 18 million out of 1 billion figure belong to our own country. Half of our country’s population is facing food insecurity. Can we even imagine how that feels? I felt sorry for such people before, but the recent flood has bought who ...

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Prepare your garden for winter blooms

Once you have decided which crops and flowers you want in your garden this fall,  get ready to plant some seeds for your winter garden. When to sow seeds? For a winter harvest, sow your seeds as soon as fall begins. For people living in Karachi and Lahore the last week of September and beginning of October is ideal. Read your seed packs to find out more about the temperatures required for the germination of seeds. Most vegetables will be ready to be harvested in 60-80 days. Where to sow seeds? You have three options here. Select according to your skill level and plant ...

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Potatoes – my first love

It usually takes two to three weeks for the potatoes to sprout. Once you see the green shoots prepare your plot, container or a bag for planting potatoes. I have selected a large blue tub. It has enough space for planting 5-7 potatoes. Here are three simple steps how you can plant your potatoes 1. Fill your container 2/4 with a good mixture of sand and manure.  (60:40 works for me). Soil must be well drained. 2. Place potatoes at 6-7 inches  distance from each other. 3. Cover with sand. Make sure the leafs are visible. Keep your potatoes healthy Simply water the plant softly ...

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A vegetable paradise in the middle of winter

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 ...

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Be nice to bees…or else

This morning I was lucky enough to encounter some bumble bees buzzing around a stunning wild plant. I love the bumblebee’s cuddly appearance. These fuzzy bees are usually 3/4 to 1 1/2 inch long and have yellow and black bands on them (although this property changes in some species.) If you ever catch sight of a bumble bee hovering over a flower, feeding on its nectar and collecting pollen as it hovers from one flower to the other take some time to pause and notice the little creature that is quietly keeping this world green. Unlike honey bees, bumble bees are not ...

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Counting raindrops in Thar

When I was penning my thoughts to share with you all, water was pouring down from the clouds in Karachi. Rain drops were splashing on my window and with each drop that dripped I pictured water traveling down the Himalayas, through the streams and rivers, making its way to the ocean, changing into vapours, reaching the skies and then pouring outside my window. The beauty of the water cycle system is bewildering! When this precious water floods our streets and finds its way to the drains, I feel we could do so much with this it only if we knew ...

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Spreading the colour green

Flowers are the beautiful hieroglyphics of nature with which she indicates how much she loves us. – Goethe Imagine walking into your office with your head full of plans for the day and catching sight of a little present that waits for you on your desk. Wouldn’t it just make your day? It could bring a smile to your face whether it was just a randomly picked flower or a little note saying “Have a good day!” Life is all about sharing love and spreading smiles where ever you go. I like to take flowers on my way for my friends. During the time ...

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How to chit potatoes

Every one loves potatoes. Why not grow your own this season? I have a roof top garden where I also grow crops in pots. Potatoes are my favorite crop because they are so easy to grow. This afternoon I decided to chit some potatoes. Chitting potatoes simply means encouraging the tubers to sprout before planting. The easiest way to grow potatoes is in bags, bins or large containers. Here is how you can start chitting your potatoes: Selecting potatoes You can simply select any potato that you like the best. It’s hard to find potato seeds ( which are basically baby potatoes) here ...

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