Summer is approaching fast, and this is an opportune time for farmers to get ready for
cultivating vegetables. Vegetables get to 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.


Tomato (Solanum lycopersicon) is one vegetable that farmers can grow during the warm
lengthy days of summer. It is usually grown for it is red tomato fruits that are used to
produce tomato sauce, jam and used in vegetable salads among other uses. Tomatoes
normally prefer sandy loam soils which allows easy root development and has good
drainage and aeration (air circulation). Tomatoes require Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P)
and Potassium (K) also known as NPK. These are macronutrients needed by plants in
larger quantities. In addition, tomatoes need a supplementary application of Potassium
rich fertilizers (such as Potassium phosphate) at the flowering stage of the crop to
encourage good fruit formation. On average tomatoes need about 500 mm of water for a
single growing season and avoid overhead sprinklers as water presence on the leaves in
warm and humid places may encourage development of fungal diseases.


Potato (Solanum tuberosum) is also a summer vegetable and the best time to grow it is
from February to May. Potatoes are normally grown for their round bulbs that develop on
the roots. They prefer sandy loam soil that allow 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. A
raised seedbed should be developed and maintained to ensure that roots are completely
covered with soil to ensure that the potatoes fully develop fully to their maximum potential.


Green beans (Phaseolus species) is another summer vegetable that is very sensitive to
frost and it is commonly known as dwarf beans or snap beans. Green beans grow well in
most soils that are loose, well aerated and well drained. Beans also require macro
nutrients (NPK) and a few trace elements such as Calcium (Ca) and Magnesium (Mg)
which are micro-nutrients needed in smaller amounts. Always ensure that enough water
is applied to the seedbeds containing beans when the plants begin to bloom and form
pods.


Sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) is a vegetable that is grown in summer for its swollen
roots that are very delicious and tasty when cooked. Sweet potatoes prefer well drained
sandy-loam soils that are loose, well drained and aerated to ensure good root
development and growth. Enough supply of 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.


Green peppers (Capsicum annuum) are closely related to tomatoes and are also grown
for their green fruits. They grow in almost any type of soil, but they 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 (NPK) are required throughout the growing
season. Adequate water is required especially when flowers start to develop and
blossom. Spraying or watering using a watering can improves fruit formation and
promotes a good harvest.


There are so many varieties of vegetables that can be grown during summertime such as
Cucumbers, Pumpkins, Sweet melons, and Watermelons to mention a few. Always be
advised that before undertaking any production, determine your soil status (via a soil
sample test), climatic or environmental requirements and water requirements of each
vegetable and the lastly the market demand in your constituency/or region.


By: Hanks Saisai, Technical Advisor: Crops & Poultry within Agribank’s Agri Advisory Services Division.