Home farming has been picking up in Muscat during the pandemic as more and more people have taken it up as a new pastime, says Prof Abdullah al Ghafri who believes that one can grow a range of plants, from herbs and creepers to date palms and fruit trees, in one’s own backyard or compound.
“All you need is a willing spirit to grow your own plants, the rest will be as good as a beautiful dream surrounding your home,” he says.
Asserting that one has two choices when confronted with a lockdown situation – to grumble about restrictions or to use your time constructively – Prof Ghafri, who teaches at Nizwa University, believes that one must choose to spend the extra time on hand fruitfully, and that home farming is one of the best ways to do so, quite literally. One doesn’t need a farm at one’s disposal to take up farming, it is an activity that can be done on a small plot, within a compound or even in a balcony, if one is interested, he asserts.
“There are many benefits of home farming. Besides being able to grow your own healthy fruits and vegetables and being self sufficient in these, it is a hobby that keeps one interested and busy every day. It also adds beauty around your house, purifies the atmosphere around it, provides sweet aromas of nature around your home and enhances the mood and wellbeing of those living there,” Prof Ghafri said, adding, that it also helps in keeping one fit.
Some of the very common and easily grown vegetables in Omani climate include different types of dates, lemon, orange, mango, banana, papaya, grapes, tomato, brinjal, gourds, herbs, chillies as well as many other plants that can be kept indoors for show as well as around one’s house to add a green and refreshing atmosphere, he said, adding that most of these can be grown either in the ground or in containers, using soil or hydroponic techniques.
“Home farming provides self sufficiency or partial self sufficiency with regards to certain vegetables and fruits for which you do not have to visit a market. For example, for dates, you can have seasonal self sufficiency while for plants like lemon, it can provide all year round self sufficiency,” Prof Ghafri said, adding that gardening is also a type of sport since tasks like mixing of soil, irrigation, trimming of plants, etc provides a level of fitness.
He also pointed out that plants provide shade as well as bring down temperatures during the daytime and reduces carbon dioxide around the house. They reduce dust around your house as well as make premises look bright and airy, too, he said, adding that flowering plants like Night Queen, Day Queen, Jasmine, roses, etc provide sweet smell around the house.
Prof Ghafri has grown a range of plants in the compound around his home in Seeb, some of which provide shade, some fruits, some vegetable and some add to the beauty of his home. He uses soil as well as hydroponics for different plants and has installed necessary equipment for it. All of this has been keeping him busy all day during the lockdown period while a large number of people have also been visiting him regularly for tips on home farming.
“If you have enough space and deep soil, you can grown plants like date palms, mango, etc but if you don’t have any space, you can grown many vegetables and herbs in pots in your balcony. Your level of gardening or home farming would depend on the amount of space and he depth of soil at your disposal,” he said, adding, “After growing plants, they also need regular care, irrigation, provision of nutrients and pest control to keep them healthy.
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