How to grow vegetables

How to grow tomato

  • Preparation
    • The field is ploughed to a fine tilth by giving one to two ploughing. Consideration should be
      made on the type of irrigation.
    • Furrows are then opened in the recommended spacing.
    • Seedlings are transplanted in furrows in light soils and on the side of the ridges in case of
      heavy soils
    • A pre-soaking irrigation is given 2 days prior to transplanting.
    • Transplanting should preferably be done in the evening.
    • Starter fertilizer is required during transplanting as a basal application (50% of total NPK required).
    • Once transplanted, immediate irrigation is required as well as a control for early pests
  • Nursery Management

There are two techniques currently for raising seedlings; use of seed trays and use of
normal ground.

  • Sowing should be done in a well controlled & protected nursery
  • A nursery should be raised with a width of 1m. The soil should be well prepared into a fine tilth and sowing lines of 10cm and 2-3cm depth made.
  • The seeds should be placed on the soil 2cm apart to take between 40-50 plants per sowing line.
  • The seed bed can be covered by use of dry grass/gunny bags and watered gently to avoid splashes
  • Ensure watering is done very early in the morning and frequently after 4 days
  • Transplanting
    • Transplant the seedling when it is 7.5 to 10cm in height or 4-5 weeks old or when it has attained 5-6 leaves
    • Irrigate well before & during transplanting. Irrigation should be done early or mid-morning
    • Standard spacing for green house is 60cm x 45cm and for open field is 60cm x 60cm
    • Planting should be done on ridges and/or depending on farmers practice.
    • Basal fertilizer application is recommended during transplanting to aid the plant during the early phase
  • Crop support
    • Staking is recommended for better growth, increased fruit bearing and improved fruit quality
    • Staking also helps to ease cultural operations like spraying, weeding, fertilizer application, earthing up & picking
    • Sowing time: as per regional practices and depending on the varieties.
    • Ideal plant population/acre: 6,000 to 8,000 in the green house and 8,000 to 10,000 in the open field
    • Seedlings are transplanted on the side of the ridges in heavy soils and in the furrows in light soils
    • Transplant healthy & stout seedlings with well-developed root system
  • Fertilizer requirement
    • Fertilizer recommendation should be based on local soil analysis.
    • If farm manure or compost ( 10 - 20 t/ha / 4 - 8 t/acre) is given before crop start, inorganic fertilizer can be reduced by 20%
  • Example: target yield of 80 t/ha needs 320 kg/ha N, 160 kg/ha P and 480 kg/ha K (or 20% less if manure is used)
  • To get the right fruit quality especially, the ration N:K = 1:1.5 is important
  • Ca: is not so much defined by yield/ha, but by soil pH. A rate of 100 – 200 kg Ca/ha is recommended, the lower the soil pH, the higher the rate

How to grow cabbage

  • Preparation
    • Factors to consider when choosing cabbage
      • Head size 
      • Head weight
      • Yield potential  
      • Pest and disease tolerance/resistance
      • Market availability 
      • Preferences
    • Soil & climate for cabbage production
      • Well drained, fertile, sandy loam rich in organic matter with PH of 6.5 - 7.5 is ideal for cultivation
      • For early maturing crop, sandy loam soils are considered best. For late maturing crop clay loam soil/heavy soils are best
      • Optimum temperatures for seed germination are 25-30ºC
      • Optimum temperatures for growth & head formation in Cabbage are 15-20ºC
      • Heat tolerant varieties of Cabbage can form compact head under tropical conditions in day temperatures of 30-35ºC
  • Soil charactersistics
    • Well drained soils, with high organic matter that exhibit high water holding capacity are suitable
    • Soils with pH more than 6.8 should be adjusted by broadcasting hydrated lime 2-3 days prior to planting.
  • Nursery Management
    • There are two techniques currently for raising seedlings; use of seed trays and use of normal ground.
    • Sowing should be done in a well controlled & protected nursery raised with a width of 1m.
    • The soil should be well prepared into a fine tilth and sowing lines of 10cm and 2-3cm depth made.
    • The seeds should be placed on the soil 2cm apart to take between 40-50 plants per sowing line.
    • The seedbed can be covered by use of dry grass/gunny bags and watered gently to avoid splashes
    • Ensure watering is done very early in the morning and frequently after 4 days.
    • During nursery stage expect soil borne pests and diseases that you need to protect the seed from.
    • Damping off is also a common issue that prevents development of seedlings.
    • Expect infestation of cutworms after transplanting is done
  • Transplanting
    • Transplant seedlings when 10 - 15cm tall or have 5 or 6 leaves
    • Water the bed the previous day before transplanting them to their permanent position.
    • Transplant the cabbage plants in the evening to minimise shock. Keep as much soil around the roots as you can.
    • Spacing can vary depending on market requirement but standard spacing of 60cm x 60cm is recommended
    • Apply 8-10 MT/acre of well decomposed farm yard manure and mix well with the soil
    • Apply base fertilizers rich in phosphorus on the planting hole such as N:P:K at a rate of 10gms per hole
    • Top-dress 3-4 weeks after transplanting with nitrogenous fertilizers
    • Irrigation should be done early or mid-morning
  • Fertilizer requirement
    • Fertilizer requirement will depend on the soil analysis done prior to planting. However the following is a guide 120: 60: 60 kg NPK/acre
      • Split applications are the most recommended. 1st split of CAN at 10gms per plant.
      • First top dressing (15-20 Days after Transplanting); 50 kg of C.A.N/Acre.
      • 2nd split to be applied two weeks later at 5g per plant, avoid excessive nitrogen application as it causes split heads.
      • Second top dressing (40-45 Days after transplanting): 100 Kg of Ammonium Sulphate/ acre +30 kg of MAP/ acre.
      • Top dressing should be applied in bands and after each application earthing up of plants is necessary
      • Cabbage has shallow root system and hence requires frequent & light irrigations especially during head formation.

How to grow pepper

  • Preparation
    • Ensure crop is grown on fertile land. Use manure to enrich soil with nutrients or apply fertiliser at planting period such as N.P.K at 10gms per hole as general application
      Note: It is vital to confirm soil nutrients through soil analysis
  • Nursery Management
    • It is recommended to raise seedlings in the nursery bed for 6-8 weeks before transplanting to the main field or green house.
    • Drench with Actara after sowing seeds and before transplanting to prevent early attacks by soil and sucking pests at nursery stage.
  • Transplanting
    • Standard spacing: for green house is 60cm x 45cm and for open field is 60cm x 60cm.
    • Drench seedlings: Actara when transplanting to prevent early attack by aphids, whiteflies and thrips.
    • Note: Actara is recommended for drenching at nursery transplanting stage for the following benefits:
      • Stronger, vigorous seedlings
      • Longer fibrous roots
      • Higher germination rate
      • Virus resistance
      • Protection aganist sucking pests
  • Crop support
    • The crop can be grown as a bush or reduced to 2-3 main primary suckers. For bush culture the crop is not pruned but allowed to have more than three main branches.
    • Under 2-6 primary main branches the crop needs a string/twine to support particularly under greenhouse production.
    • Under good support and good agronomic growing conditions greenhouse pepper can be harvested for a period of over six months in the green house and more than three months under open fields production.
  • Fertilizer requirement
    • Foliar Fertilizers can be used to supplement Soil Applied Fertilizers especially during periods of crop stress.
    • Top dress 6-4 weeks after transplanting with N.P.K (complete fertilizer) at 10gms per plant ( confirm through soil nutrients analysis). Repeat three weeks later.

How to grow onions

  • Nursery Management
    • Onion seeds are small and require a well prepared, fine and even seedbed. 
    • Well drained soils can be used for a successful nursery.
    • We recommend use of trays and cocoa peat so that little or no seeds are lost during this process.
    • If using a bed, carefully dig the soil around your preferred nursery area and make sure the soil is loose or sunken depending on water availability. Your bed should be at least 1 metre wide and preferably 5 metres long.
    • Apply goat or cow manure and mix well with the soil.
    • Make lines across the bed with a stick or any other object that are 6 inches apart
    • Drop your seeds on the lines. Take care not to over crowd them.
    • Cover the seeds with loose soil and water.
    • Cover the bed with grass.
    • Seedlings are ready within 6 – 8 weeks for transplanting, when the majority of the seedling necks are pencil size (65-80mm) in diameter, 13.5-30cm tall and have 4 to 5 leaves.
    • Care should be taken to have irrigation systems ready, so that irrigation can commence immediately after transplanting to prevent losses of the plant population
  • Preparation

    • Onions are very adaptable and will grow in almost any soil from sandy loams to heavy clay. Regardless of your soil type, always dig in a generous amount of compost before planting.
    • Onions prefer a neutral to slightly acid soil pH. A soil pH of 6 - 7.5 is a great range for growing onions.
    • Choose a site with at least 8 hours of full, direct sunlight each day.
  • Transplanting

    • Soils are irrigated to field capacity before transplanting in order to build up reserves in the soil for later use by the crop. 
    • Plough your land earlier by at least a month before transplanting
    • Apply manure and do fine some harrowing
    • Onions can be grown on ridges 4’’ high by 20’’ wide if drip irrigation will be applied or in basins for flood irrigation. They can also be planted on shallow rows for overhead/rain fed irrigation
    • After transplanting the soil is kept cool and moist with a daily irrigation of 3 – 5 mm.
    • Direct seeded onions produced under hot dry conditions may require two irrigation cycles per day.
    • Water shortage at any stage during growth may result in decreasing yields.
    • More frequent irrigation promotes good growth and helps keep the soil firm around the onion bulb. 
    • Cracks in soil and inconsistent soil pressure around the onion bulb, result in misshaped onions. 
    • Do not over irrigate as onion bulbs that are over watered tend to be soft with a poor shelf life.
    • If leaves develop a yellow tinge, cut back on watering. The closer to harvest time, the greater the need for water. However, when the onion tops start falling over, stop watering and let the soil dry out before harvesting.
    • Spacing and plant: 15cm - 20cm between rows and 5cm - 8cm plant to plant with a plant population of 330,000 plants per acre.

      Wider spacing for bigger bulbs and closer spacing for smaller bulbs

  • Weeding

    • Onions develop slower than other vegetable crops and are more susceptible to weed competition; especially during the early growth stages that can result in yield losses. 
    • Weeds can be controlled successfully through either pre- or post-emergence herbicides. Ensure to use only registered products.
    • Hand weeding is necessary during bulbing stage as soil is pushed away from the onions to facilitate good bulbing. Care should be taken to avoid damage to the bulbs.
    • Mulching with a light layer of straw/grass will help control weeds and preserve moisture. Be sure to push the straw back when the plants start to bulb so they'll cure properly.
  • Fertilizer requirement

    • Fertilization applications should be determined from a soil analysis.
    • Most onion roots are in a 15cm radius from the stem and therefore are shallow feeders.
    • If the soils pH is less than 6 or the available calcium is less than 920kg/acre, apply and incorporate agricultural lime at the rate of 1000kg/acre about 8-12 weeks prior to planting. Lime requires time to react with acid soils to raise the pH.
    • Soils low in phosphorus applies and incorporates approximately 37.6kg of phosphate/acre. Generally it is suggested that the phosphate be banded 6 - 8.5cm below and to both sides of rows where onions will be planted.
    • Nitrogen applications are critical in terms of quantity and time of application. The quantity of nitrogen supplied depends on the soil analysis.
    • Test soils for sufficient nutrients. Soils low in potassium require an application of 40kg/acre before planting.
    • Studies have shown that the best method to apply pre-plant fertilizers is to band them 6 to 8cm below the seed or transplant, rather than broadcasting and incorporating.
  • Planting



    Top dress – 1st Month



    Top dress – 2nd Month



    • Foliar feeds rich in phosphorus are necessary every 10days
    • Hormones to stimulate growth are necessary to be tank mixed during foliar feed sprays

How to grow cucurbits

  • Nursery management
    • Deep ploughing is recommended.
    • Beds are made 1.5m apart and 15-20cm high;
    • Mostly direct planted but seeds can also be raised in the nursery and seedlings transplanted. This aids in uniformity
  • Preparation

    • Requires relatively hot dry weather conditions and enough sunlight
    • Low humidity and little rains will increase brix levels.
    • Crop performs well between 18°C and 38°C
    • High humidity and rainfall increases the occurrence of leaf diseases
    • Soils highly susceptible to Fusarium Wilt infection should be avoided
    • The crop is tolerant to high pH-range, Optimum pH 5.0-6.8 to ensure uptake of micronutrients.
  • Transplanting

    • Plant population varies with regard to the type of watermelon that is planted i.e. standard, icebox or seedless.  The plants are spaced at 1.8 – 2.4m between rows and 60 - 90cm in the row.
    • Higher populations are possible where drip irrigation and/or plastic mulches are used.
  • Crop management

    • Watermelons require less water, as the crop has a well-formed root system.
    • High amount of water is required during flowering and early fruit development
    • Reduce irrigation in mature crops to prevent fruit burst and to increase brix
    • Increased bee activity can increase pollination and fruit set
    • Eight visits to a flower results in a well formed and pollinated fruit.
    • Avoid spraying pesticide mid-morning when bee activities is high
  • Pest and weed management

    • Various pests and diseases are found on watermelons and can be controlled successfully through registered products.
    • Melon fly must be controlled at the onset  to the end of flowering
    • Weeds are mostly controlled through mechanical weeding. Avoid damage to the roots system. Pre- and post-emergence herbicides can also be used
  • Fertilizer requirement

    • Soil analysis recommended before making a fertilizer program
    • Nitrogen is usually applied in two instalments, namely at the 2-4 leaf stage and the second when the vines start to develop. On sandy soils this could be spread over 3-4 instalments.
    • Drip irrigation allows for easier application of fertilizers through the system (fertigation)

Fertilization basic per acre

20 kg N

Broadcast & Incorporate

30 kg P

20 kg K

Subsequent fertilization

20 kg N

20 kg K

Top-dress when vines start to elongate

12 kg N

 8 kg K

When flowering begins, particularly if rains have occurred

  • Harvesting and handling
    • Harvest as close to full-ripeness as possible; this is when the fruit surface touching the soil is light yellow or when the vine closest to the fruit is starting to wilt (spoon leaf indicator method).
    • The peduncle is cut off to prevent the peduncle from ripping into the skin of other fruits, which can result in secondary soft rots.
    • Avoid cracking or bursting during and after harvest due to rough handling.  Watermelons should not be thrown, stepped on or stacked too high during handling.