Made Flowers Grow in a War-Zone

By: admin

WAr Zone2

Two-tiered planter

I deploy to Afghanistan often, and I’ve spent the last three summers here. (I miss JULY 4th so freaking much…) That aside, this time around, I was intent on growing some flowers to break up the monotony and ugliness of white rock, dust, cement t-wall barriers, and barbed wire. Kind of hard to do when there’s no dirt around.

WAr Zone


I’m an enlisted flyer (USAF), and fly missions every day, but I found time to build a little two-tiered planter when a couple of spring thunderstorms gave me some downtime. (Thanks next door NAVY SEABEES for the scrap wood you threw out in my squadron’s dumpster). Being the industrious airman that I am, I made friends with a bunch of random people and borrowed a circular saw, some screws, a tape measure, etc…and built my masterpiece. (4ft x 8in).

Thankfully, my dirt had arrived in the mail right on time. I bought four bags of Black Gold Natural & Organic, and mixed about half with some Afghan dirt (think really, really sandy, rocky, clay) and planted my seeds. Holy crap am I glad I bought this dirt. I’m growing sunflowers and zinnias (both like direct sunlight, and there is way too much of that out here) and boy are they growing. The plants sprouted in 6 days. 6! And little buds have just started blooming around day 30. I’m not sure what they put in the dirt, but thanks! I’ll be looking for this brand in stores next spring when I PCS to the Midwest when I get back in the fall. If I can’t find it in stores, I’ll be buying again.

War Zone 3

Sunflowers and Zinnias

Takeaway: This dirt is magic. I had low hopes that my plants would grow, much less bloom, and they have done both!

-Jason Strong