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Helping to green Kabul, Afghanistan

Greetings!! I have just arrived in Kabul for a 1 year tour with the US Army.  I would like to do more than my mission, and I'm specifically interested in greening the area near my workplace.  There are sporadic trees and rose bushes.  I thought maybe I can start seeds/plants/saplings in waterbottles in the office now, keep then in the office in the winter, and plant them in the spring before I depart next summer.  I would like to help the soil with scraps from the Mess Hall.  Any suggestions?  How about books on American growing regions that apply in Kabul?  Thanks from Kabul!

Hi Keith,
Thanx for your question and thank you for your service.  The nearest I can tell is that Kabul has a climate similar to that of the high desert of Arizona or Nevada with a bit more rainfall than those areas.  That would probably put it in a USDA hardiness zone of somewhere around 6b/7a.

There is a company here in the U.S. that does business for high country gardening.  In fact, it is called High Country Gardens out of Santa Fe, NM.

http://www.highcountrygardens.com/  I believe this kind of planting would work well for Kabul.  Remember, there may be restrictions on the importation of seed and plant material.  If you encounter any Afghans, ask them what people might grow in local gardens, what kind of trees and shrubs.  Look around when you get the opportunity to see what is already growing.  

Here are some links to some sites that might be of interest to you:
http://blog.ltc.arizona.edu/highelevationgardening/  Coconino County, Arizona Master Gardeners (Northern Arizona)
http://www.nmmastergardeners.org/ - New Mexico Master Gardeners
http://highdesertgardening.blogspot.com/  high desert gardening
http://www.coloradogardening.com/ Colorado gardening
http://www.unce.unr.edu/news/article.asp?ID=1442  University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.

Also, from my experience, starting plants indoors is more successful if you can get a hold of a 40watt shop light about 48 inches long.  You can grow all kinds of seedlings underneath one of these.  Windowsills and office lights make for poor lighting conditions which can result in leggy, weak plants that often never make it outdoors.

If using messhall scraps to make a compost pile and then use the compost to provide plant nutrition, use only vegetable scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds, vegetable peels.  Do not use meat, gravies, bones, oils, butter or other fats as these draw vermin such as rats and can also raise a huge stink with which you do not want to deal besides, who wants to put their hands in that mess?  It's not sanitary and not safe.  Veggie scraps, eggshells and coffeegrounds only.  

I hope this helps Keith and please contact us again here if you need anything.

Tom (US Airforce 1977-1985)  

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