Dr. Bilhaj’s Planting Diary

Bilhaj, Abdulkhalig Ali Dou
Sep 16, 2021
Innovative Watermelon Delights!

Deep greetings to our Dear Readers!!

Long time passed since our last article and I am so happy to be able to deliver you a new interesting and beneficial article again. I just hope the Corona situation can become controllable soon with the availability of vaccines and health care measures around the world. I hope also our readers could manage the high weather temperatures in these days as well. This year even in Siberian areas the temperatures reached around 40 °C. Of course Shibakawa continuing developing efficient lights to successfully accelerate and improve plant growth and harvests and safe our earth as I wrote at the end of this article.

In this article, first we will deliver our readers the surprise and show by images, how we succeeded in growing melon and watermelon totally indoors with Shibakawa high-tech lights. Afterwards, I will share our readers a story from my childhood related to water melon from the Libyan Mediterranean coast. Finally, a proposed method of saving our Planet will ends this article. So let’s go on reading!

Image from our research lab: Success of hydroponic and indoor growing of water melon with Shibakawa high-tech lights. Surprising isn’t it?


29 days after seeding, this is the 1st bloom. The same flower became the watermelon fruit in the first image above. Cute water melon stripes can be seen clearly. The pollination is done by hand, as no available honeybees inside the laboratory.


Melon & watermelon: An overview

Melon and watermelon are annual fruit plants of the gourd family similar to cucumber, zucchini, and pumpkin. They have large leaves, with long petioles, and tendrils with diclinous yellow flowers as shown in the contained images.

The beauty of a melon female flower on its full blooming day. How you feel its attractiveness?


Melon Varieties

Melons (including watermelon) are normally summer time refreshing delights with elegant aroma quite unlike anything else. Thousands of varieties exist around the world. They also vary greatly in size, shape, surface texture, odor, flesh color, sugar content, flavor and fragrance. Some varieties are grow-able in low temperature environment, have higher resistance to plant diseases, and some even have longer shelf life after harvesting. The start of growing season also varies too depending on the variety as follows: Early ripen of late spring, early summer, summer, and autumn. But undoubtedly, with Shibakawa lights, melon and watermelon are grow-able all year-round.

This image shows one of 3 cantaloupe fruits obtained from growing one plant. Cause of the hit of powdery mildew leaf disease, it had no chance to ripe properly. Its seeds were used to grow next generation melons.


Melon and watermelon are rich in vitamins, minerals, choline, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. Although both of them have similar minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and trace minerals such as manganese, zinc, selenium, iron and copper; they still differ in the vitamin content. While Melon has higher value of vitamin C, K, B3; watermelon have large amount of Lycopene and vitamin A. Lycopene in watermelon is still higher per gram even than that of Tomato. Particularly, the watermelon seeds are edible and excellent source of many minerals as well.

It is the same water melon of the first image above. It was really so delicious! You may try to grow such in your home as well.


Water melon & childhood Story

In our childhood, we get used to go swimming with our families in the nearby coast of the Mediterranean Sea, especially in the mid of summer as the temperature raises over 30 °C. As Libya has the highest temperature record of the planet with 58 °C. Normally we go to beach together with other 2 families. All necessities are prepared and loaded in the traveling cars from the previous day. As we arrive to the beautiful greenish-blue beach we kids just jump from cars to the cool water. While fathers and elder brothers prepare the tent and getting things out of cars, mothers and sisters do start to prepare the big lunch of Imbakbka with lamb or goat meat over a natural wood fire. They also start preparing the aromatic Libyan bubblous mint tea. While we kids are swimming under the unsparing sun, we make a lot of games, such as swimming deep and trying to catch the legs of each other or see who swim faster, or who can stay under water for longer and many other games as well. In 2 to 3 hours, as time passing fast, and we became extremely hungry and thirsty suddenly mothers call us for the spicy Imbakbka. With the extra thirstiness from the spiciness, and over sufra; a 1 meter diameter big open plate, giant watermelons were already cut into large slices. Here is the real enjoyment; kids can feel a restorative power to swim once again after their face being buried into 2 or 3 of these slices while the juice is dripping down their arms. After looking to the romantic sunset we all back home, make showers, pray and deep sleep.

This is the Mediterranean coast nearby our home in winter time. In summer it becomes more colorful and so attractive.


Cooling up our boiling Earth

The rising of temperatures have become clearly visible around our globe, especially this summer. In fact many people thinking that this is happening just because of the consequences of the earth’s green house effect. Yes that is partially true as the concentration of CO2 has increased by approximately 44% in the period from the beginning of industrialization up until recent years. But there is another fact even more important. It is the desertification in North Africa; as in Libya, that caused by the lack of rain, by the shortage and drainage of natural water reservoirs under the ground, and by the invasion of salty seawater into these reservoirs. In my childhood the rain was very strong and continues for several months along its autumn and winter season. At that time, the rain fed agriculture; where farming is relying on the rainfall for water, was very popular and profitable as well, the water level in water wells was so close to the surface. Moreover the spring was like a paradise, flowers everywhere covering even a part of the desert. Now everything is different, a winter with no rain became a norm, the rain fed agriculture is almost disappeared. Moreover, the water in water wells became either far to reach or salty or drought out. Not only that, in the past the summer has only around 3 of very hot days at a temperature over 40 to 50 °C, but this year these temperatures continued for more than a month. It is a kind of tragedy. One of the essential solutions; I do think, is to desalinate the seawater and insert its drinkable water back into the drained natural water reservoirs as done successfully in the agricultural areas of California. Another mutual solution is to perform forestation with rain based palm trees, olives, and other perennial trees like figs and grapes in the drought agricultural areas that already have been hit by desertification.

In this sense, all efforts to improve the efficiency of lighting systems; for buildings, as well as for developing the agricultural sector, are required and can provide a significant contribution to safe our earth. There is no time to lose, and we must devote ourselves with vigor to saving our planet. Shibakawa is developing such technology day by day, where I hope we can make a valuable contribution to our environment actively as well.


Next article

In next article, I would like to introduce new type of plants again. To know more about Shibakawa high-tech LED lights or if you would like to ask me any direct questions please don’t hesitate to send us email through the link “shibakawa.co.jp/en/inquiries”. Of course we will be so glad to support you. If you are living in Japan, I would like invite you to visit our booth in the 8th Exhibition of Next generation agriculture expo of Tokyo from 13th to 15th of this coming October.



Dec 7, 2020
The Productive Peas with Shibakawa LEDs


Peas, edible flowers and healthy seeds

Hello, our dear Readers. I back to you with a new article and new guests.


I hope all of you doing well, and preparing for the coming cold winter; especially for those who are living in the northern hemisphere of this planet. Our readers in Pavlodar, Tatarstan, and other Kazakhstan and Siberian areas already have heavy snow and below-zero temperatures.


This time we would like to introduce you a new guests from the leguminous vegetable family. Yes!! As you can see from the image, the first guest is the sweet green peas.

Flowers, baby pods, and fresh seeds are all edible.


The story of peas with Shibakwa LEDs

As we always get used to, we implemented Shibakawa High-Tech LEDs to grow up these peas. We applied on them a full indoor environment with an average temperature of 20℃.


As an experiment, I grew around 14 seeds of these peas in an area of 0.15 square meters (50 cm in length, and 30 cm in width), with an available height of 120cm.  Practically, they grew very quickly and so productive.

Counting from the date of sowing seeds, their flowers start blooming after 30 days, first edible pod with full seeds in around 40 days, and the harvest of the whole production have been done in less than 50 days.


In the final production we gained around 130 pods in the harvest day with a maximum of 6 seeds per pod. That gives an average of 9 to 10 pods per plant with an approximation production of 40 times the original sowed seeds (although the exact number of the produced seeds was not counted).

So quick, so productive!


Healthy Peas

Peas are nutritious with high levels of protein, dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals comparing to grains such as cereals’.


From the minerals’ point of view, peas have a considerable amount of Potassium as the most prominent element, followed by Phosphorus, Magnesium and Calcium. Peas contain as well traces of Iron, Selenium, Zinc, Molybdenum, Manganese, Copper, and Boron.


Regarding Vitamins, peas are rich in the B group of them. Fresh peas have also A, C and K vitamins. As a large portion of these vitamins can be lost by cooking or canning, eating the peas fresh is still healthier.


Peas have low fat content as well. For instance, the dietary fiber content of raw peas is over 20% of the edible portion on fresh weight basis, while in contrast; white rice has just 1%.


As an optimum way to reduce the dependence on fatty animal protein sources such as meat, one can try to shift to; or at least put extra focus on, eating legumes and pulses like peas. The requirement of the majority of protein types essential for human body; in our daily diet, can be met by including adequate and balanced quantities of both pulses and cereals, as their proteins are complement to each other.


To say the truth, it might be hard for anyone to drive his meals far from meat or any animal based proteins. But instead of fatty food, indeed it is healthier to include adequate amount of legumes and pulses such as peas, lentils, and different beans in our daily diet.


For culinary purposes, peas are edible in all its growing stages, including edible white flowers, baby pods, fresh green seeds, as legumes with their pods, and as pulses with only their dry seeds. You can eat flowers and fresh green seeds with salads as well. So here in this article, I would like to introduce you a vibrant Libyan recipe.

The beauty of Peas!


Libyan dynamic recipe of a Mediterranean fresh salad

This healthy recipe of a Libyan salad can be adapted depending on your preferences, vegetable availability, and season. Basic ingredients to serve each person can be just 2 mid-size tomatoes, half cucumber, and quarter of mid-size onion.


Now you can make your salad goes the following dynamic and healthy way:

  • Colorful, by adding cubed slices of carrots, ginger, or any vegetable you love.
  • Spicy, by inserting enough pieces of fresh green or red hot peppers.
  • Tasty, by mixing your salad with big spoon of olive oil and sprinkling little natural salt.
  • Aromatic, by adding pieces of a preferable fresh fragrant herb, such as parsley, celery, coriander, thyme or any herb you wish.
  • Rich in proteins by adding some soft fresh Peas.


Now enjoy your handmade Libyan salad!!

Soft peas are so suitable for a fresh salad!!


Broad Beans


Broad beans are member of the leguminous vegetable family as peas. Broad beans and peas have equivalent health benefits, as their nutrition content is very similar. Here, in this article, I would like also to share you the following images of our broad beans experiments by applying the light of Shibakwa LEDs.

Broad beans family!! You can see clearly its growing cycle. So cute isn’t it?



In fact, my town in Libya; Agelat, is very famous by being a large producer of Olives, Palm trees, fruits, and vegetables including broad beans in the whole country. My father got used to grow broad beans as well in our farm in the time of my childhood. Mostly we have been using their full legume in couscous; which is the main traditional and original food of Libya since thousands of years. It is my pleasure to introduce to our readers the couscous recipe in one of the coming articles.



Broad Beans’ blossom, simple, quiet, and energetic!!


Hopefully you enjoyed our Peas article. For the upcoming article, I am glad to tell you that the next guest will definitely surprise you!!




Sep 7, 2020
Delightful Carnation, Beyond Imagination !


 The edible Carnation flowers


In this Article, I would like to show our dear readers how Carnation flowers can grow so beautifully with Shibakawa LEDs.

Carnation flowers are native to Mediterranean area and have linear leaves, with a cyan hue, which are growing on a slender stems. The average plant height goes up to 30 or 40 centimeters. The Carnation flowers typically made up of five petals with frilled edges or fringes. Moreover, Carnation is a prolific and ornamental bloomer, so a favorite in gardens and landscapes. Now, through the light of Shibakawa LEDs, you are capable to have a Carnation hydroponic garden even inside your home. You can take a Look to the attached image from our research laboratory and discover yourself how wonderful it is. A doted and wavy white belt in the middle of each flower can be seen clearly. So attractive, isn’t it?

How astonishing!! How delicate!!


In outdoor conditions Carnation flowers have long blooming period from late spring to early autumn. By using Shibakawa high-tech LEDs, these flowers can be seeded and grown in any season around the year, even in the late autumn or mid-winter. Carnation; in the shown image, took 35 days from seeding till the start of its profusely blooming period. In fact, in indoor conditions; and with care, they can bloom all year-round.

To enhance your culinary sights, the use of edible petals of Carnation is a fragrant, subtle, and adventurous way to elevate the look and taste of your salads. In fact, its applications are versatile, unlimited, and beyond our imagination. You can utilize them also to decorate cakes, meals or as herbal tea. In winter, you can even try to steep the whole flowers in water to warm your feet before sleeping, while enjoying their sweet aroma.

Fully Edible Carnation Flowers.


The second image illustrates some Carnation flowers prepared to serve the incremental demand in many stylish Restaurant and Hotels around Japan. These flowers are cultivated in “Yoza Vegetable Garden” located in Okinawa Islands, and grown using Shibakawa High-Tech LEDs.


Is a strawberry fruit or vegetable?

For our readers who read the article of April, hopefully they could have some ideas about the answer of this question. Here in this section I would like to share you my humble opinion. Wishing that, it can be so useful to you.

Scientifically, the fruits have been defined as any seed-bearing formation that developed from the ovary of a flowering plant; whereas vegetables are all other plant parts such as roots, stems, and leaves. Hence, scientifically strawberry is a fruit. Nevertheless, with this definition even hot pepper will be sorted as a fruit!!

In my childhood, I classified fruits as the eatable harvest of woody plants as they are perennial. Meanwhile vegetables are the eatable products of grassy plants, which normally die at the end of the growing season. With this childish classification strawberries become kind of vegetables.

In my current opinion, the decision; of whether the plant harvest is a fruit or vegetable, is yours. They are fruits, if you can eat them fresh or as desserts. Else; if there is a need to cook them or eat them merely in salad then certainly they are vegetables!!

In Japan, nowadays many vegetables became far sweeter than any time before. As an example, if anyone closes his eyes and has given our laboratory’s mini-tomatoes to taste, then if we asked him/her to guess whether it is a fruit or vegetable? Most probably his/her answer will be “fruit”. Perhaps, we should have thought some plants can be vegetable and fruit simultaneously.

Now, I believe the wisdom in all of this is how to ensure we are offering to our body and mind the necessary diverse range of nutrients. In other words, how you can make a balanced mix in your diet between fruits and vegetables as nutritionally they are not equivalent. For instance, Fruits have higher levels of sugar and calories, while some leafy vegetables contain extra carteniods. Even though, both are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants.

You may have different approaches. That is excellent too, even myself sometimes for extra wisdom, I love to go deep further; enjoy looking into the Quran, which revealed around 1400 years ago, and it is mentioning about plants and fruits in amazing ways in many of its chapters.


The next Article

Simply, the forthcoming article will contain our laboratory’s peas; the green beans with an edible flower flavor!!