by Albert Makendenge
Best And High Valued Crops To Grow During Winter In Zimbabwe
While beetroot can be enjoyed all year round, it is a cold-weather plant that thrives in winter (15 to 20 degrees Celsius). It does very well in well drained soils with plenty of humus but not fresh manure. Plant seeds I.5 to 3 centimeters into the ground with about 7 centimeters row spacing and 35 centimeters inter-row spacing. Watering every two weeks especially when dry as well as thinning is very important throughout its growth and harvesting should be done when the crop is still tender (about 60 days from sowing). The crop which is one of the top ten vegetables in the world on a popularity scale pays about $1.50 to $2USD per kg.
Basic requirements for growing tomatoes include land, water, tomato seeds, composited manure, trowel and any thread to tie plants to supporting sticks. They do well in any warm (area with 8 to 10 hours of sunlight) and fairly damp environments. Tomato seeds are sown 0.5 to 1.5cm into the ground and are transplanted when 15 to 25cm tall. Water the plants every 7 to 10 days but not keeping the plants continuously wet as this could give birth to diseases. Foliar fertilizer feeding system is also highly recommended. The fruits, which usually appears after 45 to 90 days after transplanting are ready for harvesting when they reach good size, softness and color. Tomatoes pay about $3USD per 9kg box, $15USD per 25 to 35kg box and even more in winter when the supply is far outstripped by demand.
Lettuce does best in all types of climates and soils but grows best in sandy loam soil with a high level of moisture-retaining organic matter and temperatures of about 10 to 15 degrees Celsius. Sow lettuce seeds about 1.5cm deep and 3cm apart in rows or simply broadcast them over the bed. Covers should be used to protect the transplants from the sun and wind during the first few days in the garden. Harden off 3-week-old seedlings for at least two or three days before transplanting. It is important to keep the soil moist but not soggy since lettuce roots are very shallow and fertilizer should be added once the lettuce has grown a few inches high. The plant is usually ready for harvesting after 45 to 80 days and is priced at a $USD1 per head on the market.
Periods between February and May, wet conditions and deeply ploughed/harrowed areas that receive 6 hours of sunlight with temperatures ranging from 25 to 30 degrees Celsius are the best for growing garlic. Place cloves into the ground in a vertical position and ensure that the roots are at the bottom side. Water once every 7 days at the beginning and twice a month once germination has occurred. Harvesting is to be done when yellowing and tipping over the tops begin to occur. The crop is normally priced at $4.50USD per kg on the market.
There are several other crops which can be grown in winter and these include broccoli, cauliflower, onions, cowpeas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, ginger, pepper and the list is endless.