Know your summer vegetables
Vegetables thrive if planted in the right season at the right time for optimum yield.
16 September 2020 | Agriculture
Summer is approaching fast, and this is an opportune time for farmers to get ready to cultivate vegetables.
Agribank's technical advisor for crops and poultry within its agri advisory services division, Hanks Saisai, said vegetables thrive if planted in the right season at the right time for optimum yield.
“When vegetables are grown in the wrong season, a farmer may experience pests, diseases and poor germination rates that may all lead to crop failure.”
He said there are many varieties of vegetables that can be grown during summer, however, before undertaking any production, soil status, the climatic or environmental requirements and water requirements as well as the market demand must be determined.
According to him, tomatoes can grow during summer. Tomatoes normally prefer sandy loam soils which allow easy root development and have good drainage and air circulation.
Tomatoes require nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, also known as NPK, he said.
In addition, tomatoes need a supplementary application of potassium-rich fertilisers at the flowering stage to encourage good fruit formation.
On average, tomatoes need about 500 mm of water for a single growing season, while overhead sprinklers should be avoided as water presence on the leaves in warm and humid places may encourage development of fungal diseases, Saisai said.
Potatoes are also a summer vegetable and the best time to grow them is from February to May, he said.
Potatoes prefer sandy loam soils that allow for good drainage, aeration and root development.
“Potatoes, just like tomatoes, require NPK, and at flowering stage they require additional phosphorus which can be obtained from applying Superphosphate.”
Another summer vegetable is green beans, which grows in most soils that are loose, well-aerated and well-drained. Green beans also require macro nutrients (NPK) and a few trace elements such as calcium and magnesium in smaller amounts.
“Always ensure that enough water is applied to the seedbeds containing beans when the plants begin to bloom and form pods,” Saisai said.
Meanwhile, sweet potatoes are grown in summer for their swollen roots and prefer sandy loam soils that are loose and well-drained and aerated to ensure good root development and growth.
According to Saisai, enough water should be given throughout the growing season and soil must be drawn up to the plants using a garden rake to ensure that the roots grow well for a good harvest. Gradually reduce watering two to three weeks before harvesting, he added.
He further said green peppers are closely related to tomatoes and grow in almost any type of soil, but thrive best in soils which warm up quickly in spring.
“The soil should be well-drained, aerated and have good water-holding capacity. “Macro nutrients are required throughout the growing season.
“Adequate water is required especially when flowers start to develop and blossom.”