Most lettuce varieties are quick and easy to grow and produce a harvest within a month or two. Lettuce does NOT like hot weather. Therefore, you can only grow it during the cooler months from May to July. Although it grows faster in full sun, it is one of the few vegetables that tolerates some shade. What’s more, you can grow lots of lettuce in a small space. You can even grow it with other taller plants like tomatoes.
Swollen abdomen in chickens is a common problem most poultry farmers face. But that’s not all. Apart from death, other chicken abnominal conditions can lead losses. You could end up having fewer eggs and less meat to eat and sell while spending more on food and medication.
Sweet potatoes are tropical plants that grow best when it’s hot. The plants are sensitive to shade which leads to low yield. However, for maximum root filling to occur, the temperature should be between 25-32°C. Higher temperatures slow photosynthesis leading to vegetative growth (lots of kalembula) and not for tuber filling.
Preparing to plant
Sweet potatoes typically grow from slips, which are shoots that are grown from a mature sweet potato. You can buy slips or grow your own. To grow your own slips, be sure to find out if you’re getting a bush type or a vining type sweet potato.
To grow your slips, start with several healthy, clean sweet potatoes. Each potato can produce up to 50 slip sprouts. You can cut the sweet potato into large sections or use whole. Place each section in water with half of the potato below the water and half above. Because the slips need warmth, place them on a window ledge or on top of a radiator. In a few weeks your potatoes will be covered with leafy sprouts on top and roots on the bottom.
You then have to separate them into plantable slips. To do this, carefully twist it off each sprout from the sweet potato. Take each sprout and put it with the bottom half of the stem submerged in water and the leaves hanging out over the rim of the bowl. Within a few days roots will emerge from the bottom of each new plant. Once that happens, you are ready to plant. Remember to keep the water fresh and discard any slip that isn’t producing roots or looks like it’s wilting. You can also get slips by planting halfway in soil for a couple of weeks.
Soil and planting
Growing sweet potatoes works best in loamy, well-drained preferably sandy soil to form large tubers. You don’t want the roots to face resistance when they try to expand in the soil. Ideally the pH has to be between 5.8 and 6.2, although they will tolerate a more acid pH to 5.0. Before planting, mix in a 2.5 cm layer of compost and thoroughly dampen the bed. If your soil is heavy clay, raise the beds amended with compost and sand. However, potatoes in clay are sometimes thinner and oddly shaped. Good root development depends on there being plenty of air space in the soil (good aeration). Shade plants if they wilt too much after planting them in the heat.
Plant sweet potatoes about 30 to 45 cm apart, and allow 100 cm between rows so the vines will have plenty of room to run. If you plant your sweet potatoes when it’s very hot and sunny, cover the plants to shield them from baking sun.
Once all of the slips are in place water them. You’ll need to give them a thorough soaking until all of the surrounding dirt is wet everyday for the first week and every other day the second week. Each week the watering will get a little farther apart until you’re watering once a week.
Thoroughly weed your sweet potatoes 2 weeks after planting by pulling them gently; if possible avoid deep digging with a hoe or other tool that disturbs the feeder roots that quickly spread throughout the bed.
Historically, sweet potatoes have been a poor soil crop that produces a decent harvest in imperfect soil, but will do much better with a little fertilizer. About 2 weeks after planting, feed plants with a fertilizer that contains potassium (the third number on the fertilizer label), such as 5-10-10. Use about 2 cups 5-10-10 per 900 square cm. Gently scratch the fertilizer into the soil surface. Then mulch over the soil with an inch of grass clippings or another biodegradable mulch. Continue weeding and adding more mulch for another month. After that, sweet potatoes can can withstand drought but they’ll produce less, though they do benefit from weekly deep watering during serious droughts.
Sweet potatoes are usually ready to harvest just as the ends of the vines begin to turn yellow. Most sweet potato varieties mature between 14 to 18 weeks after planting. Lift tubers after removing vines using hand forks, separate and sort tubers according to market requirements and pack in crates.
Potato starch and potato flour are two value added potato products that bring in valuable returns to food processors. And, a smart farmer trying to diversify knows that the global consumption of potato as food is shifting from fresh potatoes to added-value, processed food products.
Growing crops from seeds is not only cheaper but can be exciting as you anxiously wait to see those first two leaves sprout. As much as you can buy seedling, you won’t find some of the best and most unusual varieties of vegetables as seedlings and your only option is to grow them from seeds. So, how much do you know about planting seeds? How do I know when your seedlings are ready for transplanting?
Transplanting your seedlings
Transplanting seedlings out in the field at the correct time is crucial to their development later on. If you transplant before they are ready, they may have a hard time surviving. On the other hand, if you wait too long, your seedlings may become bound in their original container and can die after transplanting.
There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to transplanting. Most people will tell you to look at how tall a plant is before you put it out in the field. However, this can’t be a determining factor due to the fact that different plants grow to different sizes. In addition, the amount of light a seedling gets can influence how quickly a plant grows in height. In little light, a seedling can grow very tall very quickly, but this plant may or not be ready for planting out.
How to tell if a plant is large enough to transplant
You have to look at the number of true leaves. The general rule of thumb is that when a seedling has three to four true leaves, it’s large enough to plant out in the field (after you harden it off).
You see, when you plant a seed, the first leaves to emerge are the cotyledons which look different from leaves that will grow later. The purpose of these leaves is to provide stored food to the seedling for a short period of time. True leaves grow shortly after the cotyledons. The true leave emerge and start generating energy through photosynthesis that will help feed the plant for the rest of its life.
If you ensure that the plant has enough of these leaves, you will keep it sustained when you plant it out in your field. Just remember, it isn’t how tall but how many true leaves your plant has that will determine when you should be planting seedlings out. But even when your seeds are big enough to plant out, make sure you harden off your seedlings before planting them.
How to harden off seedlings
“Hardening off” is the process of gradually introducing seedlings to strong sunlight, cool nights and less-frequent watering over a 7-10 day period. On a mild day, start with 2-3 hours of sun in a sheltered location. Protect seedlings from strong sun, wind, hard rain and cool temperatures. Increase exposure to sunlight a few additional hours at a time and gradually reduce frequency of watering, but do not allow seedlings to wilt. Avoid fertilizing and keep an eye on the weather. Be sure to water plants after hardening them off.
When growing crops from seeds, you want them to be very prepared to grow into beautiful cops that will provide you with a bumper harvest.
Hot weather is here, and so are the insects. No matter the size of your farm or the animals you raise, when the weather gets warmer, bugs become a bother. Let’s talk a little about fly control, why you should care about controlling these six-legged pests, and how to do it.
Banana plantations can last a long time. However, if you want good harvests, you must dig up the plantation after 7 to 10 years. Some commercial farmers dig up after 4 years. You’ll also have to practice crop rotation and plant legumes such as beans for 2 years before you plant on the land again.
For dairy and beef cattle, there isn’t a single formula that provides an ideal diet. While there are guidelines for nutrition you should follow, the feedstuffs you choose will depend on your farm and what is available.
Black pepper also called “Black Gold” is one of the most expensive and popular essential spices. It is the cooked and dried unripe fruit of the Piper Nigrum plant. White pepper on the other hand, is the ripe fruit seeds.
CMT’s 3rd Cassava World Africa summit presents cassava market business prospects across Zambia, Mozambique, Uganda, Nigeria and Tanzania. On 10-11 October 2017, at the Radisson Blu Hotel Lusaka, they take stock of Africa’s cassava commercialisation success stories – across food and non-food applications and challenges hindering the region from a complete ‘transformation’ despite producing large volumes of cassava!