By Zahrah Nasir
Q: I have an area of land close to Bahawalpur and want to develop it for personal agricultural use. Please give me some advice as to what I should grow there. I would ideally prefer a mix of edible and ornamental species of plants.
A: Depending on the area of land concerned I would suggest that you put part of it down to grain, part to vegetables and herbs and a smaller section to whatever ornamentals you desire although, frankly speaking, I would give the latter a miss. Dividing the area up with rows of fruit trees would help maximise land use and provide shade for seasonal crops during the blazing summer heat in your locality. As long as water isn’t an issue and soil salinity is minimal you have lots of choice.
Q: You once suggested that garlic vine is very adaptable to the climates of Karachi and Lahore but I have tried with two plants, from different nurseries in Lahore, and they are not performing well. There are no signs of pests or disease but the plants do not put on new growth. I tried directly in the soil and in a pot. I changed the soil and added fertiliser but still the plants do not grow. Are you sure that garlic vine grows in Lahore and, if so, what could possibly be wrong?
A: Garlic vines grow wonderfully in Lahore! From what you say though I suspect that you are disturbing yours before they have a chance to spread out their root systems and take off. Moving plants around gives them a ‘check’ and they suffer badly from this as, each time they are disturbed, the root system suffers. Just leave them be, let nature take its course and if they survive the trauma they have already suffered, they will reward you in time.
Q: I am interested in growing ‘Abronia’ (sand verbena) in Lahore for its fragrant flowers. Should it be grown in sandy soil? Will it be perennial and is it suitable for here?
A: Abronia should do well in Lahore and will be perennial providing that correct growing conditions are maintained. This species needs almost pure sand with excellent drainage. Seedlings and young plants will need a little water from time to time but mature plants do not. The only potential problem is during the summer monsoon when, if at all possible, the plants should be protected from the rain and associated high humidity. You could perhaps erect some form of temporary shelter over them during this period.
Q: Are there any shrubs which flower before they come into leaf that are suitable for cultivation in Lahore? I know of two members of the ‘Prunus’ family that do this but they are not easy to grow here.
A: Yes. Forsythia, with its glorious golden flowers in very early spring, will meet your needs.
Q: I grew some gorgeous geraniums from seed this year and they are in full bloom. I have them in pots on a sunny veranda in Islamabad and they are in perfect health. What I need to know is: Do I have to bring them indoors for the winter or will they be okay where they are.
A: Geraniums are more cold tolerant than people tend to think. They should be absolutely fine in your veranda as long as it isn’t exposed to cold winds. If you are very concerned, and I can understand if you are, then take them indoors and place them where they get plenty of natural light and put them back outside in early spring.
Q: Can climbers from the ‘Asarina’ family, such as ‘Maurandia’ and ‘Asarina’ be grown in Lahore and, if so, in which month should the seeds be sown?
A: Asarina itself is fine but Maurandia may be a little more problematic. Both should be sown during early spring as soon as the temperature begins to rise but, even then, starting them off under glass or at least covering them at night is recommended.
Q: Which varieties of ‘Lillium’ are suitable for hot climates like Lahore? I am not happy with either Oriental or Asiatic lilies. I would also prefer a variety which can be kept in the soil all summer instead of having to be dug up and stored.
A: Oriental and Asiatic lilies are about the best bet in Lahore and neither of them should be dug up and stored at any point in the year. As long as drainage is good, the bulbs will rot otherwise, they should thrive and multiply if left in the ground. Putting them into storage is unnatural and breaks their natural growing cycle.
Q: I want to cultivate mushrooms in a pot in my house in Lahore. Where can I get spawn and other related material?
A: I suggest that you contact the Horticultural Department of Faisalabad Agricultural University for full growing instructions, advice and for spawn. You should find a contact via an internet search.
Picture source: Google.
Source: The Dawn, InpaperMagzine
Published on: 12/09/2012