Rooftop Gardening: Flowering Vegetables

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If I was Tinkerbell, or some other dainty little fairy flitting here and there in a forest, I’d like my dress to be made from this frilly white flower. We have no idea what this plant is called, Mohamed received the seeds from a good friend who owns a greenhouse operation nearby. He told me it makes a gourd that people like to eat the seeds from as a snack. It’s supposed to be a quick growing vine that will cover our grape arbor and give us shade and relief from the hot summer sun up on our rooftop garden.
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We planted a seed in every barrel around the roof, and they are taking off like crazy, producing many vines and slowly climbing up the arbor. One or two have actually reached the top of the arbor already and I’m guiding them carefully in the right directions.

The pretty flowers are quite a bonus, in my opinion! Two nights ago we were up on the roof working and it was about time to stop. At sunset the mosquitoes come out, and I don’t like to be their dinner.

But this time, a little earlier than the mosquitoes, a really interesting insect came visiting these frilly white flowers. Too bad I didn’t have my camera up there at the time, it looked like the strangest cross between a small hummingbird and a large butterfly, with gorgeous orange colored spots on its wings. Just like a hummingbird, I couldn’t really see the wings, just the spots, as it was hovering over the flower and inserting it’s needle-like beak for a sip of something sweet, then it flitted off to the next flower!

Insha’Allah, God willing, I’ll have my camera ready next time!

This next shot is one of the barrels filled with the vines of this mystery gourd. The bougainvillea planted in a chicken feeder beside the barrel is also flowering nicely, adding some pretty color to the roof!

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 hit Refresh to display this! On the next roof is the vegetable garden, doing pretty nicely this year, thank God. Honestly, I’m very excited about our garden, after having almost given up after last year’s disappointing results. We had too much chicken manure in the mix and the soil was too hot for tender roots to survive in it.

This year we added peat moss and sawdust and river Nile silt into the mix, and everything is looking pretty good! Here are a few pictures of the pretty flowers that are responsible for producing all the delicious veggies we planted.

This first picture is a close up of a cucumber flower. I love the beautiful sunshiny yellow color, and the tiny little fine hairs on the underside of the petals, and on the surface of the stems and tendrils. This closeup makes me pretty sure it’s those fine little hairs though, that are responsible for making me itch whenever I’m working with the cucumbers, tying the vines to the trellises. I’ve always wondered why cucumber plants make me itch!

But the itch is just a minor aggravation, easy to ignore when you’re munching on your own home grown crispy little cucumber! This next photo is our first delicious little reward for our hard work and patience! Yum!

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This photo is a closeup of an okra blossom. What a beautiful combination of creamy pale yellow and rich dark red!

When the okra flower is just a bud, it’s wrapped up tightly like a pink colored cone and I never imagined the flower would be anything other than pink. It’s quite a surprise when the bud opens up and shows off this dreamy creamy yellow color with the alternating rich dark red and bright yellow center!

The next shot shows the same pale yellow flower on the okra bush. Another nice surprise about the okra plant is the great dark red color of the stalks, quite an appealing combination with the rich red color extending up the stems to the dark green leaves. You can see one nice little okra below the flower, just the right size for harvesting!

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This beautiful dark yellow flower has become very popular in the last few years, showing up in farmer markets and specialty grocery stores all over the world. Zucchini squash flowers, and yellow squash flowers, too, are a great vegan alternative to tempura shrimp or chicken. Deep fried tempura squash blossoms are probably awesome, but I can’t bring myself to harvest the flower. I’m afraid the squash won’t grow if I remove the flower, so I never touch them.

I don’t really have any training in gardening, just a lot of love for watching things grow. And fried flowers are probably not something I can convince Mohamed to eat, anyway. He does love grilled zucchini slices, though, and we have definitely been enjoying a lot of that! We have been really happy to see how quickly the zucchini started producing in our little rooftop garden, and there’s been a steady supply for a nice meal just about every other day. This next photo shows the same flower on her plant, and a couple nice zucchinis waiting to be picked.

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Our tomato plants have suffered a bit from a bacterial blight that blew in on the first hot wind. I was wondering what made the leaves look like they were splashed with black pepper… the plants started looking wilted, so I tried watering more, but it didn’t help much. Then some of the stalks started turning black, and I knew right away what the problem was. Bacterial blight was a common problem I saw on our farm in South Carolina, attacking our apple and pear trees after the first hot wind of Spring. It doesn’t affect the tree’s roots, or its fruit, if the branches with fruit on them survives, but the black branches have to be pruned out immediately and the tree sprayed with a very light amount of bleach added to the water. Bacterial blight has no cure and can’t be prevented, other than the light bleach treatment after cutting out the damage. So, I pruned out most of the foliage from my tomato plants and sprayed the bleach water and, Thank God, my tomatoes haven’t suffered. There are loads of tomatoes ripening beautifully, even though the plants themselves are not very photogenic at the moment!

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Finally, after all that hard work in the hot sun on the rooftop garden, I’ll bring you back here to sit in the shade of the grape arbor. The chairs are comfy, the breeze is light and the view is wonderful!

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Thanks for joining me, and come on back anytime for another visit. You are always welcome here in my oasis!


I’m linking up this post today with all the nice folks participating once again in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge. Her topic this week is Flowers, and I’m excited to check out all the great posts – join us here!

Click here for the previous post on Rooftop Gardening: Our First Tomato!


52 thoughts on “Rooftop Gardening: Flowering Vegetables

  1. Aisha, the flowers from vegetables are the most beautiful and intriguing. I was also able to photograph the Okra and Pumpkin flower once also. It all looks definitely as an ‘Oasis’. I see those beams on top that you’ve added. That’s going to be more than just a ‘roof top’.

    • Lol, thanks very much, Maria! I agree, the veggie flowers are so beautiful. I’m not holding my breath, but Mohamed also p,anted a few pumpkin seeds in two or three barrels… I don’t know for sure if they are really pumpkins, though, they are not known in Egypt, so it will be a surprise, those vines are still quite small and no flowers yet! And about the arbor, yes, it’s a big job, we’re still working on the final touches. I’d love to do a post about building it with Mohamed when it’s finally finished! Thanks so much for visiting! ♥♥♥ ; ^)

      • You’re right, what I probably saw was some form of squash because there are big ones and small ones. But here they call them ‘pumpkins’. Aisha, I accepted the ‘Liebster’ award, but I don’t know if I did everything correctly. Please feel free to go to my last post and tell me what you think. I answered your questions, but also another blogger nominated me for the same award, so I just answered one set of questions. I still wonder whether I had to answer two set of questions simply because two persons nominated me for the same award?

        • You did a great job, it’s wonderful! Usually if someone already has an award, e.g. a Liebster, and they get nominated for it again, they don’t accept it a 2nd time, that’s what I’ve noticed anyway, but giving thanks to the ones who nominated you is always the perfect thing to do. I love your answers and your new questions, and I’ll have to check out the blogs of your nominees, I’m sure they’re very interesting! ♥♥♥;^)

    • I would try it, definitely, I like anything fried with brown crunchy stuff on the outside, lol! But the native egyptian is typically pretty conservative about trying stuff that Moses’ grandmother never cooked ;^o

      • ah, I thought that maybe they might after you mentioned it as a vegan dish. If the Muslim population is wary of it perhaps the coptics do!! 🙂 At any rate my husband had (Greek) relatives that lived in Alexandria.and I think both Italian and Greeks eat it.

        • Probably in Alexandria it’s more familiar because of the Greek influence in the food and community. In general, Alex is awesome, I’d love to spend more time there. We just visited Alex this last weekend and actually went to a real shopping mall… it was awesome, like being in a different country, it was clean and shiny everywhere, we sat down in the food court and ate McDonalds lol, I felt like it was my birthday, it was so much fun! ♥♥♥;^)

    • No, hahaha, I think the bigger percentage of egyptians would think that’s pretty wierd… lol, the bigger percentage of egyptians think I’m pretty wierd, too, come to think about it! (Nobody can understand why a perfectly sane american woman would move to the rural nile delta!) ♥♥♥ ;^) thanks for visiting me here!

  2. wonderful post You have a talent for immersing the reader into your realm,and I want to sit on your rooftop garden! ok that’s if for me, I won’t spam your comment section any more ( I do wish there was an edit button!)

  3. How wonderful Mother Nature is. The flowers are so attractive so that the insects and birds will help to pollinate them. Lovely pictures. I can sense how peaceful your oasis is.

    • Thanks very much! It’s my husband’s idea, he had a grape arbor up on this roof when he was young and when we rebuilt the 2nd floor we dreamed of restoring the grape arbor and it’s starting to come true! Thanks so much for visiting me here! ;^)

  4. Hello Aisha,

    All your posts stand out. this one is marvellous…
    I can see some little tomatoes over there and I also recognize the zucchini plant… By the way, if you spread some seeds the zucchini plant grows up easily, right?. The bougainvillea is truly gorgeous
    If I was Tinkerbell I’d also like my dress to be made from that frilly white flower… Really beautiful . I would also add some fairy dust … And then Fairy tales will come true!.

    Beautiful post my dearest friend.
    Many hugs, Aquileana 😀

    • Lol, I’d like that, bring the fairy dust with you next time you visit! Yes the zucchini grows surprisingly fast, we’ve been quite amazed, it’s really been fun watching this garden take off like this, I don’t think we’ve ever had this much success with a garden! Thanks so much for visiting me here, dear Aquileana, your visits are always very enjoyable! ♥♥♥;^)

  5. This is a beautiful post! I love photos as well as the idea of a rooftop garden. We have a container garden on our deck, and we so appreciate it. Best of luck with yours.

  6. These flowers are magnificent including the bougainvilleas! I especially liked the okra blossom.

    Back home, we cook squash flowers too not fried though but mixed with other veggies such as eggplant, okra, tomatoes etc. and we call it ‘dinengdeng’ 🙂

    • I just read about sauteing them, and it sounds like a great idea. Your dish sounds great, too, I love stirfry veggies with rice, so I just might try a few flowers in the mix next time! Thanks so much for the visit and for your great dish, “dinengdeng!” I cant wait to try it! ;^)

  7. What a wonderful post! I didn’t even know that vegetable plants have such pretty flowers. (Never having grown anything myself). You seem to be having a lovely time with your gardening and the love and effort you are putting in really shows! Would love to see it 🙂

    • Thanks so much! It’s so exciting seeing things grow, and then eating it, too, lol! Come anytime, we can eat fresh salad and okra stew up on the roof, and we can drink fresh papaya juice, too, I mix it with some mango juice and it tastes wonderful! ♥♥♥ ;^)

  8. My oh my… your roof top garden is looking splendid… I think, but can not be sure your mystery seed is Pumpkin? if the gourd is edible and the seeds can be roasted .. Here our courgettes are just sprouting as our our Tomatoes… This year we are growing Butternut squash for the first time, so any tips will be gratefully received.. I don’t know how they will fair in our climate.. but we are giving them a go on the allotment.. Also we are growing peppers in the greenhouse and double the amount of tomatoes this year.. Someone on the allotment kindly gave us some yellow variety as well.. so the surplus I will make into soup and freeze..

    I was wondering at all that extra weight upon your flat roof! with the soil etc? ….

    I love the photo’s and the wonderful Okra blossom is beautiful.. Everything is looking fantastic.. 🙂
    Love Sue

    • Hi Sue, thanks so much, I’m happy to see you! What are courgettes? I’ve never heard of this! Our peppers started out slow, but now we’re getting some, the bell peppers are tasty, but the little peppercinis are hot ;^o
      About the roof, just for fun here’s a little animated gif I put together back when it was being built, it’s a small file because I was sending it over a dial up line to my family, but you can see what’s going on in the pictures. The roof has a very strong web of reinforcing rods to hold all the concrete, and thank God it’s a really strong building! Take a look here:

      ♥♥♥ ;^)

      • Wow, Thank you so much for sharing those pictures with me Aisha.. It has reassured me it is strong and safe… For I know how heavy soil and containers will be, especially when wet.. OK now to find you Courgettes.. They are similar to cucumbers but are solid in the centre but do not taste like a cucumber .. I found some info on them you many know them by another name..
        Take care.. and enjoy your Gardening.. 🙂

    • Allah bless you, Dear Heart, yes, I totally agree, life in any form is such a miracle, and such a blessing to watch it grow! Thanks so much for visiting me here and for your sweet encouragement! ;^)

  9. OM ! That’s a gorgeous bio-farm up there,my friend ! All the plants are really thriving ; I’m sure you have green fingers,dear Aisha ! Can’t help but tweet it away !!! Doda 🙂

    • Oh, thanks so much, Doda, how sweet of you! Honestly, I’m really enjoying it so much up on my roof, it’s very interesting to watch everything grow, I think you might be right, my fingers do have a green tinge, lol! ♥ ;^)

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