Farming experts say if your target is to make quick money from vegetable growing, it is advisable to start with specialised vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower and beetroot.
Joseph Male, the director of Fruits of Faith Farm located in Magere, Gayaza Road in Wakiso district, explains that although these vegetables are not common on the Ugandan menu, they are sought after by restaurants, hotels and export consumer communities.
They are also a delicacy for people who are diet conscious; meaning that they transition to healthy eating habits with probably the aim of managing or losing weight, Male notes.
Besides, you will be sure to have quick money coming into your pocket because the vegetables grow fast — within two to three months they are ready for harvesting. Additionally, they continue sprouting, so you keep harvesting them for a longer period of time, which guarantees you constant cash flow.
Cauliflower is one of the several vegetable species in the cabbage family. It is only the head; white flesh sometimes called “curd” which is eaten.
Planting cauliflower starts with making a nursery bed. It takes three to four weeks for the seeds to sprout and are ready for transfer.
When planting, give them spacing of 45x60cm to maintain uniformity. Alternatively, you can use the spacing of 60x60cm. With such spacing, you can plant about 12,500 plants of cauliflower on an acre.
Male adds that it is advisable to go for improved varieties that mature faster. Cauliflower matures between 60 and 65 days after transplanting.
Fertiliser and mulching
Hasadu Mugabu, a specialist in growing vegetable spices, says since cauliflower does not cover the ground completely, it is good practice to mulch the garden as it keeps weeds at bay.
This reduces the competition for manure between the plant and the weeds. Mulching also improves moisture retention ability in the soil, hence improving the nutrient availability to the plants, so the performance will be much better, Mugabu notes.
The ideal soil
You can improve the quality of soil by adding more organic manure or organic compost from the rubbish, dung and urine from cows, pigs and rabbits.
Market for cauliflower is readily available, although sometimes prices fluctuate depending on the weather.
A piece of cauliflower costs between sh1,000 and sh2,000. This means one acre of cauliflower can fetch you between sh4m-sh5m. Mature cauliflower is harvested once just like cabbage, Mugabu explains.
Broccoli is a cool-season crop that is a member of the cabbage family, Male notes. It is edible and its head is comprised of functional flower buds. It is this foliar part which is harvested and used for food.
He says broccoli can be planted directly by seed or through transplants. The
management is the same as for cauliflower; the only difference is that it grows pretty fast, so you must know when to harvest.
Male cautions that the moment cauliflower begins to flower, it must be picked within seven days. It takes 50 to 65 days to mature.
A head of broccoli weighs between 800gm and 1kg and the average price is between sh1500-sh2,000. The market is readily available in Nakasero Market, Kampala.
With the same spacing of 45cmx60cm, you can get about 12,500 plants on an acre.
Planting in a well-drained, moist soil with plenty of organic matter will give you good yields. Just like cauliflower, mulching will help keep the ground cool and moist.
Kale is classified under cabbage family. It is essentially a form of cabbage that does not have the tightly formed head associated with most cabbages. Kale is planted as close to each other as possible. The profit for this vegetable is determined by the amount of greens per acre.
The vegetable requires full sun exposure to grow properly and works best in deep, well-drained loamy soil.
Kale has a relatively fast growth rate and you can start harvesting it at six weeks, depending on how you manage the crop. The beauty with the vegetable is that you can continue harvesting it for six months. Kale is one plant that is consumed a lot, especially by people who are health conscious. The market for kale is readily available, a bundle of about five leaves goes for sh1,000. Sometimes when it is scarce, the prices go up.
To plant beetroot, you need to do a clean till; prepare the garden very well and make lines of 20cm spacing and disperse the seeds directly in the lines, Male notes.
There is no need to make a nursery. After three weeks of germinating, start pruning; removing off too much-crowded seedlings, leaving a spacing of about 10cm. After 60-75 days, the beetroot will be mature enough to be harvested. It is harvested once by picking the root which is eaten in form of salad, although some people prefer to make juice out of it.
For a good harvest, you can pick between 18 and 20 tonnes from an acre. A bag of 100kg of beetroot costs between sh80,000 and sh120,000.
Lettuce is a vegetable commonly consumed in form of salads as well as side dishes. It comes in two varieties; iceberg and soft leaf lettuce.
Farmers do not sell lettuce per head, instead, it is bought in 50kg bags and the current price is between sh25,000-sh35,000.
But the advantage is that you can have 25,000 plants per acre because of the spacing of 30cmx30cm in walkways.