Vegetable farming is the growing of vegetables for human consumption. The most suitable vegetables are those producing a large yield per unit of area. Bean, cabbage, carrot, lettuce, onion, parsley, pea, pepper, spinach, kales, capsicum and tomato are desirable home garden crops.
Vegetable production provides a promising economic opportunity for reducing rural poverty and unemployment in developing countries and is a key component of farm diversification strategies. Vegetables are mankind’s most affordable source of vitamins and minerals needed for good health.
Factors to consider in vegetable production
Success in vegetable production whether it is organic or inorganic is greatly dependent on a well thought out plan. Key factors that should be considered carefully during the planning stage of the farming operation are;
Topography refers to the physical characteristics of the overall field site and includes such conditions as; contour, soil depth, water and air drainage, and, the presence of rock out cropping and trees. These characteristics can have a significant influence on crop production and management. Poorly drained fields or those with low areas can become waterlogged during periods of excessive rain. Such conditions can enhance the incidence of diseases, reduce plant vigor and yield, and, under excessive conditions, cause plant death. An ideal topography for vegetable production is one that is nearly flat to slightly sloping and well drained.
Soil type refers to the physical composition or properties of the soil. Soils basically consist of decomposed mineral matter (sand, silt, and clay) and decomposed organic matter. Optimum vegetable production is achieved on well-drained sandy loam soils. Although vegetables can be grown on a wide range of soil types, most vegetables are not well adapted to heavy clay soil types. Soils of this type tend to have poor aeration and drainage and can restrict root growth.
Water availability is possibly the most important factor to consider when it comes to vegetable farming. Vegetables require water on a regular basis so deciding the method of irrigation is most crucial. In recent times, farmers have been advised to embrace drip irrigation systems for better yields.
Drip Irrigation is the most efficient water and nutrient delivery system for growing crops. It delivers water and nutrients directly to the plant’s root zone, in the right amounts, at the right time, so each plant gets exactly what it needs, when it needs it, to grow optimally. This ensures that a farmer saves on water by 50%, time and resources since it’s a long term investment.
Selection of crop varieties
Choosing the best vegetable variety is important because you are able to plant healthy seeds/ seedlings that are free from pests and diseases.
Select a reputable seed dealer with a wide selection of high-quality vegetable varieties. Make sure the seed dealer can provide knowledge and instruction on cultivation, pest control and marketing.
Marketing the produce
The fact that most vegetable crops are highly perishable, the need to develop markets for produce should be established prior to planting the crop. This is even more important for organically produced vegetables due to their limited or niche market status. For whatever reason one chooses to commercially produce vegetables organically, profitability is the driving force that keeps a farmer in business. To achieve profitability, one must have a well thought out production and marketing plan.
Different ways to do vegetable farming
- On an open field– this is the most common way in which people practice farming. This can be done in large scale or small scale depending on the farmer’s ability. Open field can be very profitable if the farmer takes heed of the factors we outlined above
- Use of greenhouse– This is a method of farming whereby a farmer decides to grow crops in a controlled environment. This is most especially done for commercial purposes. Another reason would be because some crops such as tomatoes, capsicum and lettuce need close monitoring because they are more susceptible to diseases.
- Shade net farming– A shade net is used to protect the crops against direct sunlight, strong wind, animals and hail storms. It is commonly used in areas that are too hot or windy.
- Multi-story garden– Multi-story gardening is a farming method that aims at helping farming produce more food in a small space. When you grow plants in a multi-storey garden, you get increased yields. This is because the plants are closer to each other; hence they can share resources more efficiently. In addition, the plants receive enough water and nutrients, which enable them to grow healthy and produce more.
- Through hydroponics– This involves growing plants in nutrient solutions that are free of soil. The plant roots are submerged in the nutrient solution, which is frequently monitored and circulated to ensure that the correct chemical composition is maintained. Hydroponic farming allows for faster growth and higher yields than traditional soil-based growing systems. To grow hydroponically, you need plants, a container, water, a way to anchor the plants, nutrients and a light source.
Why farmers should venture in vegetable farming
Vegetable farming not only does it improve the farmer economically but also health-wise. They are called protective food as their consumption can prevent several diseases. Vegetables play an important role in the balanced diet by providing not only energy, but also supplying vital protective nutrients like-minerals and vitamins. Therefore, we should all embrace vegetable farming.
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