A Maltese University graduate has gone back to his family’s roots with a modern twist by developing a way for tulips to be grown locally.
Charles Zahra comes from a long line of farmers – and with his great-grandmother having developed a name for herself growing flowers, he decided to take a literal leaf out of her book.
“Coming from a family of farmers on both sides, I always wanted to work closer to the land,” Zahra told Lovin Malta. “My great grandmother used to grow flowers and I decided to switch our greenhouses back to flowers.”
After gaining a Masters in Agriculture from the University of Malta in 2018, Zahra went to Holland to study their flower-growing techniques. After picking up some new skills, he set his sights on a half hectare of land in Rabat and Għargħur to become ground zero for some serious tulip growing.
Zahra is now entering his second year growing tulips in Malta, and has grown over 15 different varieties of the beautiful flower.
“We have some flowers which are open-field, but we grow our tulips in a greenhouse designed in a way to give a cooler environment than the outside,” he explains.
Tulips require cold weather to grow healthily, so, contrary to many other crops, tulips are planted and are grown during the coldest season of the year.
“Our production strategy also enables us to grow tulips without the use of synthetic pesticides and using water conservation methods, thereby making our production very sustainable,” he pointed out.
Speaking to Lovin Malta, Peter Agius, who is known for his interest and promotion of Maltese agricultural products, praised Zahra’s tulip greenhouses.
“Tulips need cold weather to root, and then milder weather to grow and produce flower – hence while they would normally flower around March or April in mainland Europe – but with the right conditioning they can flower in time for St Valentine’s Day in Malta,” he smiled.
With Maltese graduates bringing over interesting new crops and finding innovative ways to ensure their growth, the island can benefit from better local products without having to rely so heavily on imports coming from abroad.