Planting with passion – Design Middle East
Dominic Frank, founder of Captain Planet DXB, shares his experience of urban gardening and what inspired his passion for growing flowers and edibles in pots
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF URBAN GARDENING?
Urban gardening is the process of growing plants – both floral and vegetative in an urban environment. Given the current condition and the dire climate change situation already at hand, now is the time to reduce our own carbon footprint.
IT’S INTERESTING TO KNOW THAT YOU MAKE ALL THE HERBICIDES AND FERTILIZERS ON YOUR OWN FROM THE ORGANIC WASTE. COULD YOU SHARE SOME WAYS OF DOING IT?
MY TOP TIPS FOR HERBICIDES ARE:
• Orange peel brew (Where you boil the orange peels and cool the water for 24hrs. Fill a spray can with that and go crazy on your plants that are insect-infested. The citrus immediately attacks the unwelcome guests)
• Neem leaves – Blitz the leaves in your mixer, soak the mixture in room temperature water for three days in a plastic container lightly covered – and put it in the spray bottle! You can add a few squirts of dishwashing liquid so that the solution holds onto the leaves longer.
MY TOP TIPS FOR FERTILIZERS ARE:
• Eggshells- These fertilize your garden, keep away unwanted insects, create the best plant food for tomato plants especially and are a great source of calcium and other minerals. Crush by hand or a mixer blitz and you can dust them atop the soil. Viola! You’re set!
• The humble Banana peel – Chop the peels, soak in water for three days, use the water for spraying on the leaves and use the soggy peels under the top layer of soil for a further potassium boost.
WHAT ARE THE HIGHLIGHTS OF YOUR GARDEN?
I’ve been gardening for over six decades and yet each day, I learn a new lesson from nature Our gardens at Dubai’s Desert Springs Village have had everything from a friend’s pregnancy photoshoot to Modeling photoshoots for friend’s who have local businesses. We recently had a special bloom of the Sasa Yuri Japanese Lillies which in japan itself is a rare sighting. My kids live right next door so we have two huge plots to play around in. Our current harvest includes, eggplants, capsicums, and sweet potatoes, A variety of chillies from India, purple Tanzania chillies and yellow Sri Lankan chillies also grow here. Lettuce, radish, beetroots, bitter gourds, okra, beans, and a variety of spinach as well. We recently harvested mustard seeds and drumsticks last week. We also every five weeks consistently harvest bottle gourds that weigh around 3.5-4 kgs. We’ve not bought store tomatoes for over 2.5 years and our garden’s crowning glory is watermelons. We’ve just two weeks ago cut a 4.7kgs watermelon.
DO YOU WANT TO TURN THIS PASSION INTO A BUSINESS?
No, some things are for the soul. I am happy to help and assist with the many questions that people write to me with from all over the world. I also go over to friend’s gardens in the UAE when they reach out for help with setting up, planning and maintaining but I don’t charge.
WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS?
Our goal is to start a garden club in Dubai where like-minded gardening enthusiasts can meet and socialise, share tips and seeds, and saplings as it develops. Due to the current social distancing rule, we virtually meet people in their gardens under the hashtag already set up and being contributed to #GardenClubWithCaptainPlanet and once we have the current situation behind us- we will plan to have a garden tea party soon where we will have plant swaps, seeds giveaways and most of all a chance to catch up with gardening aficionados.
You can reach out to Dominic on Instagram and Facebook @Captain_PlanetDXB