Frequently Asked Questions About Vegetable Farming

FAQ’s on Vegetable Cultivation / Frequently Asked Questions About Vegetable Farming:

If you are planning to grow vegetables in  indoors / outdoors / backayrds / on terrace/ containers / pots or home garden, you must check out these Frequently Asked Questions About Vegetable Farming.

  1. What is vegetable production or vegetable farming?

Vegetable farming or production indicates growing vegetables under suitable conditions on a large scale for human consumption. This large scale production could be for domestic use or for export depending on the quantity and quality produced. Initially, when people started cultivation, it was restricted to personal use, but later on due to ever increasing population vegetable farming turned into a commercial business practice. Conventional vegetable farming needed human labour and typical weather conditions for successful cultivation of plants, but of late there have been many ways for growing vegetables, which are less dependent on the external factors and consume less time for growth.

  1. How many types of vegetables are there in the world?

Vegetables can be categorised on the basis of different factors like seasonal, biological family, colour, etc.  Most of the vegetables available in the world can be divided into five biological family groups such as leafy vegetables (spinach), cruciferous (cauliflower), marrow (pumpkin), root (potato), edible plant stem (celery) and allium (garlic) vegetables. Some researchers have classified vegetables into groups based on their nutritional content such as dark –green vegetables, starches, red and orange, beans and peas and other vegetables. Much broader classifications could also be found on the basis of planting such as seed vegetables and stem or root vegetables.

  1. What vegetables to plant and when or what months can one plant vegetables?

Depending on different climatic zones in India, there is a variation in farming vegetables in North and South India. Also the cultivation of vegetables depends on the season of the region where they are being cultivated. The list of vegetables farmed in these two regions is given below:

January

  • North – brinjal
  • South – lettuce, spinach, gourds, melons, radish, carrot, onion, tomato, okra, brinjal and beans

February

  • North – apple, bitter and bottle gourd, cucumber, French beans, okra, spinach

March

  • South – coriander, okra, gourds, amaranthus

April

  • North – capsicum
  • South – onions, okra, chilly, tomatoes etc.

May

  • North – onion, pepper, brinjal
  • South – okra, chilly and onion

June

  • North – all gourds, cucumber, cauliflower, okra, onion, tomato, pepper
  • South – almost all vegetables

August

  • North – carrots, cauliflower, radish
  • South – beet, beans, cauliflower, carrots

September

  • North – carrots, cauliflower, radish, peas, lettuce
  • South – peas, cauliflower, cucumber, onion, spinach

October

  • North – beets, cauliflower, radish, peas, lettuce, brinjal, turnip, cabbage
  • South – peas, cabbage, capsicum, turnip, spinach, brinjal

November

  • North – turnip, tomato, radish, peas, beet, pepper
  • South – beet, cabbage, carrot, beans, lettuce, okra, turnip

December

  • North – tomato
  • South – pumpkin, ridge, bitter, ash and bottle gourd, cucumber, chilly and cabbage
  1. What vegetables grow in 30 days?

Few vegetables that can be harvested within 30 days are:

  • Sunflower shoots – 12 days
  • Garden cress- 14 days
  • Radish – 21 days
  • Green onions – 21 days
  • Mustard green – 30 days
  • Spinach – 30 days
  • Lettuce – 30 days
  • Kale – 30 days
  1. What are the easiest vegetables to grow from seeds?

Some most common vegetables that can be grown from seeds very easily are beans, beets, carrots, cucumbers, kale, lettuce, peas, pumpkins, radish, zucchini and squash.

  1. Can one grow vegetables in pots or containers; if so what vegetables can be grown in pots?

Growing vegetables in containers or pots is possible provided proper dimensions and sufficient area is allotted to the plants to grow well. Large pots (20 inches wide) are required for vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers etc. pots with 16 inches width or diameter are needed for plants like pepper. So it is advisible to have an average pot or container size of 10 inches width and 12 inches depth while farming or cultivating vegetables.

  1. What vegetables can be grown on raised beds?

Cultivating vegetables using raised bed method is practically good for all vegetables, but there are some which outperform the rest such as the root vegetables, leafy greens, onions, tomatoes and potatoes.

  1. What vegetables are harder to grow?

Some vegetables, which pose challenges to the farmers are:

Carrots

  • Germination of seeds is not very easy.
  • Plants never develop roots and directly flower and seed.
  • The carrots have green and bitter shoulders.
  • Production of skinny carrots.
  • Deformed roots and cracking.
  • Roots sometimes develop all over the carrot.
  • Carrots develop a bitter taste.

Celery

  • Too many leaves, no stalks.
  • Plants bolt to seeds.
  • Sometimes inner stalks and roots die.
  • Cracked or brittle stalks.
  • Tough and bitter stalks.

Cabbage

  • Tiny, button sized heads.
  • Browning buds.
  • Head with a yellow tint.

 Lettuce

  • Needs more time to mature and form the head part.
  • Bolts to seed.
  1. How long does it take for vegetables to grow?

Each type of vegetable has its own growing period and it may range from one month to one year in some cases. The growing period for some common vegetables are given below for reference:

  • Radish (30 days)
  • Beans (60 to 70 days)
  • Corn (60 to 90 days)
  • Potatoes (70 days for early variety and 90 to 150 days for late varieties)
  • Cabbage, broccoli, pepper, eggplant (120 to 150 days)
  • Eggplant (55 to 70 days)
  • Spinach (28 to 42 days)
  • Garlic (120 to 180 days)
  • Turnips (30 to 55 days)
  • Beets (35 to 60 days)
  • Zucchini (40 to 50 days)
  • Bush beans (40 to 55 days)
  • Cucumber and baby carrots (50 days)
  1. What vegetables can be planted next to each other?

Vegetable plants can either be grown with other vegetable plants or can be grown with floral plants. Some vegetable plants that are suitable for companion farming or planting are

  • Cabbage and marigolds
  • Cucumbers and radishes
  • Cucumbers and sunflowers
  • Onions and carrots
  • Lettuce and carrots
  • Corn, squash and beans
  1. What vegetables cannot be planted together?

Sometimes it is observed that in spite of all healthy ways of planting and maintenance, some vegetable plants don’t go together. This incompatibility could be because the needs of the plants may be different or the plants could be competing with each other for major resources. Some incompatible plant combinations are:

  • Tomatoes and beans
  • Black walnuts with tomatoes, eggplants and corn
  • Garlic or onion with beans or peas
  • Mint and onions with asparagus
  • Pole beans and mustard with beets
  • Anise with carrots
  • Potatoes with cucumber, pumpkins, radish, squash or tomatoes
  1. What vegetables can be planted in early spring?

The plants that could be directly planted on the ground during spring are cauliflower, radish, beet, kale, broccoli, tomatoes and eggplants.

  1. What vegetables can be grown in June?

Vegetables that can be sown in the month of June are beet-root, broccoli, kale, French beans, carrots, chicory, peas, pumpkins, winter squash, radish, cucumber, lettuce, turnip, salad greens, spring onions etc.

  1. What vegetables can one grow in the shade?

Vegetables can be grown in varying levels of shade like deep shade, light shade and partial shade. Vegetables that are tolerant to shade conditions are beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, garlic, corn, lettuce, leeks, mustard, peas, potatoes, radishes, spinach, turnips and watercress.

  1. How often should a vegetable garden be watered?

The average water requirement for any vegetable plant is estimated to be 1 or 1½ inch per week. There could be deviation in the requirement of water depending on the following factors like wind speed, humidity, rainfall, air temperature, soil consistency, etc. Feeling the soil with the hand can help the farmer or gardener estimate the requirement of water. If the soil is dry for about an inch or two, then it should be understood that the plants need water. Growing vegetable plants need deep watering facility, whereas germinating seeds need shallow watering facility.

  1. Why do vegetable crops sometimes have low production?

Prolonged dry or wet soil conditions, very high or low temperatures, excess shade, too much nitrogen fertilizer, hot and dry winds, etc. are some reasons to define a low fruit set in vegetable crops. Also, it should be noted that applying insecticides during the wrong time, i.e. bloom period causes low production.

  1. What is the best way to water a vegetable farm and how much water is required by the vegetable crop?

If farming is being done on a land with well drained soil, then one inch of water is required every week, i.e. 62 gallons of water for every 100 sq ft of area. If the soil is sandy, then the requirement of water could be little higher. Water is required by the vegetable plants exclusively during germination of seeds, planting or transplanting, flowering and fruit bearing. Care should be taken such that the plants are neither overhead watered or shallow watered. Most commonly used watering systems are soaker hoses and drip irrigation systems due to their efficiency and minimum water usage.

  1. Are cement blocks safe to raise vegetable crops?

Some people have a doubt on the use of cement blocks to farm vegetables because they have the potential risk of leeching chemicals into the soil and plants. It is true that the cement blocks are built of cement, sand and small stones, which often include fly ash materials and are hazardous in nature. There is no much information available on leeching chemicals into soil, but if in doubt one can have polymer paint over the block and seal it so as to avoid the potential risk from the blocks. Also one can use any other material that is less harmful to build blocks or coat the cement blocks.

  1. What is off seasonal vegetable farming?

Off season farming also called as counter season cultivation is a practice of cultivating or farming vegetables under adverse climatic and economic conditions. Generally in South Asia there are two major cropping seasons such as Kharif season (monsoon crop season) and Rabi season (autumn or winter crop season). Vegetables cultivated excluding these periods are generally termed as off seasonal crops.

  1. How do vegetables grow without seeds and what vegetables have no seeds?

Vegetables typically do not contain seeds, if any of them contain the seeds like tomato or pea pods, cucumbers, peppers, etc. are all fruits, but commonly addressed as vegetables. Vegetables are grown by vegetative propagation methods like cuttings, graftings, tubers and rhizomes.

  1. What vegetables can be grown from scraps?

Growing from scrap means that these vegetables can be grown using the leftover parts after cutting the vegetable (kitchen scrap). Such vegetables are lettuce, celery, lemon grass, bean sprouts, avocados, potatoes, sweet potatoes, ginger, garlic, onions, pumpkins, peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, turnips etc.

  1. What are the top 5 vegetable producing countries?

The five countries producing vegetables are china (504 million tonnes), India (86 million tonnes), USA (40 million tonnes), Turkey (30 million tonnes) and Iran (17 million tonnes).

  1. How should vegetable crops be fertilized?

Most of the vegetable crops have a common fertilizing schedule and if the farm is being used for vegetable cultivation for many years, then a soil test would show high potassium and phosphorus levels in the soil, which means that the soil should be supplemented with small amounts of ammoniated high- phosphate as a starter while planting. The vegetable plants are side-dressed with nitrogen fertilizer because this is the major requirement throughout the cropping cycle. Micronutrients are supplied as required, depending on the results of the soil test. One can try using manure instead of commercial fertilizers, but care should be taken not to over doze the plants otherwise it could be harmful. A word of caution is not to side dress the plants with potash or phosphorous because the soil already has plenty of it.

  1. What vegetables can be grown in water or what vegetables can one re-grow?

There are some vegetables that comfortably grow just in water like carrot greens, green onions, Bok choi, celery, lettuce, beet greens, garlic sprouts and lemon grass. There are a category of vegetable plants that can be re-grown again and again from the stem, stumps or nodes and it is worth observing that all the above mentioned vegetables come under this category.

  1. How do I manage pests and diseases on vegetable crops?

Maintaining a healthy farm or garden is the first step to prevent pest or diseases in vegetables. Some important things to handle so as to keep the plants healthy are:

  • Maintaining the soil fertility which includes loose soil, humus rich content, balanced nutrient levels, the addition of trace elements and most importantly treating the soil organically.
  • Creating a rich biodiversity around the farm or garden can keep the vegetable plants healthy and some measures for biodiversity include creating beneficial habitats (ponds, trees), crop rotations, polyculture, mixed or companion farming.
  • Improving hygiene around the cultivation area such as weed control, removal and disposal of damaged or diseased leaves and plants.
  • Using good quality seeds or stocks as planting material. Also not using too old seeds for planting because they become dormant when stored for more than two years.
  • Always the climate and soil should be thoroughly verified for being suitable for a particular variety of crops before planting.
  • It is always advisable to use resistant varieties to keep the level of disease occurrence to the minimum.
  • Diseases could be avoided by sowing the plants and seeds at the right time.
  • There should be a break in cycle of growing vegetables to prevent re- infection to the new plants.
  • Proper plant and row spacing in the farms could prevent spread of diseases and pests among plants.
  1. What could be some mechanical control measures for managing the pests and disease?

In spite of proper maintenance in and around the farm area, there could be some unavoidable pests and disease occurring in the plants and can possibly be controlled by using some mechanical measure such as:

  • Netting the area could keep the pests away. Vegetable gardens or farms use fleece, crop covers, bionet, bird nets etc as netting materials.
  • Collars could be used to prevent the occurrence of root fly in cabbage plants.
  • Traps could be used to catch the pests like beetles and slugs.
  • Hand picking the large insects is also a good practice to prevent the spread of infection.
  1. How does growing vegetables benefit farmers?

Vegetable production benefits farmers because it has not shifted from traditional subsistence farming culture to commercial farming establishments and the main factors for these changes are:

  • Increasing awareness of diet and nutrition.
  • Changing food habits.
  • Fetches more prices per unit area of the farm.
  • Flexibility to farm multiple crops at a same time with mixed, companion or intercropping methods.
  • Vegetable cultivation suits both small and marginal farmers.
  • Vegetables when intercropped provide additional income to the farmers.
  • Labour intensive work, so is a source of employment to rural population.
  • Vegetables have high export potential.
  1. Can vegetables be raised for seed production? If so, how?

Raising vegetable crops for producing seeds is a special type of vegetable farming and needs skill or expertise. Generally, when the plants are being grown for seeds, harvesting is not done upon the fruit development or maturity of the edible part of the plant rather it is grown further through different stages. The purity of the seeds is obtained when production is done in isolated conditions and special techniques are used for flowering stage till is processing stage. Every parameter like soil, temperature, water, sunlight, etc. is considered minutely for seed production, so that the output of the produce is of good quality and true to its nature.

  1. What is the best soil for growing vegetables and how can one improve the soil?

The key to successful vegetable farming is a good soil type. Most of the vegetables do well in moist, well drained soil having rich organic matter (compost or peat moss). If the quality of soil is not available at the farm or garden area, then one can easily prepare the soil before planting. It is important to clear the area of all the debris, weeds etc. before farming. The soil should be dug to a depth of 12 inches approximately and compost or rotted manure should be incorporated into it to a depth of 3 to 4 inches. The soil should be raked so as to keep it loose and well aerated. Low performing soils could be handled by preparing raised beds for planting vegetables. Depending on the type of soil amendments could be made accordingly to improve the soil condition such as adding sand and peat moss can improve the texture of clay soils.

  1. What should be the pH of the soil for vegetable farming?

The PH level of the soil generally speaks of the acidic or alkaline nature of soil and is an important factor that promotes plant growth. It has been observed that vegetable crops grow well in soil with a pH range of 6 to 7, although 6.5 is ideal. There would not be much problem if the pH of the soil fluctuates from 5.5 to 7.5, but beyond these figures, there is the need for soil treatment or modification to help plants grow.

  1. How much sunlight is required by vegetable plant to grow?

Full sunlight for vegetable plants indicate that they need 6 to 8 hours of direct light without any blockage every day. Fruiting vegetable plants like tomatoes and peppers need long hours of sunlight and the cultivation is mapped accordingly in the farm area. Root vegetables need less light and also tolerate minimum sunlight for about 3 to 4 hours a day. Shade tolerant varieties like greens do not need excess light otherwise they dry and curl up forming brown patches on the leaves.

  1. What are raised beds and why are they needed in vegetable farming?

These are soil beds constructed above the normal level of the land or terrain and enclosed with a proper structure. These beds could be regular or irregular in shape and size depending on the crop type being planted. The average depth of a raised bed could possibly be around 8 to 12 inches. Some advantages of using raised beds for cultivating vegetables are:

  • Improved soil drainage.
  • Facilitates the production of vegetables in areas with poor soil quality or no soil at all.
  • Useful when limited space is available.
  • Flexibility to create one’s own growing platform.
  • Allows early planting.
  • Raised platforms could be easily protected from adverse conditions.
  • Reduces soil compaction.
  1. Why is crop rotation practiced in vegetable farming and what is the order of rotation?

To have healthy vegetable plants in the same area and to increase their productivity, crop rotation is practiced. It also helps in pest control, reduces diseases and maintains nutrient levels in the soil.

Before planning a crop rotation, the farmer should be aware of the main divisions of crops such as legumes, root vegetables, leafy greens and fruit bearing type vegetables.

The order of crop rotation is extremely important otherwise there could be no benefit out of such practice. It should be clearly observed that brassicas should follow legumes and very rich soil should not be used to cultivate root vegetables. An example of four bed rotation is as such:

  • Area 1 – plant onions and leek after harvesting potatoes and tomatoes
  • Area 2 – cultivate lettuce after parsnips, carrots and parsley.
  • Area 3 – grow cabbage and Brussels sprouts in winter after harvesting kale and rocket during the summer.
  • Area 4 – after onion and leek plant legumes.
  1. What are the limitations of vegetable cultivation in India?

Some limitations for adopting vegetable cultivation as a commercial business in India are:

  • High perishability of produce under normal conditions.
  • Lack of proper infrastructure for cold chains, roads, power and transportation.
  • Processing the produce is decentralized.
  • Marketing the produce fresh from the farms is difficult in India due to retailers.
  • Improper post harvest management techniques like packaging.
  • Insufficient quantities of high yielding varieties.
  • Lack of knowledge and expertise on the scientific methods of cultivating the vegetables.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Dear Team,

    I am new to Agriculture farming. I want to do it in 1 acre of land in North Bangalore side. Please suggest which crop is most profitable ( a complete guide on expenditure, profit, precautions to be taken etc) to go ahead or should I do multi crop farming. Thanking you in advance.

  2. Sir, I have grown Chow Chow in my Bangalore house, but the problem is, after flowering many started falling down, but after a few days, I harvested few Chow Chow but the size was not that big, so I would like to know is there any manure, so that I can harvest more, because the creeper is full of leaves rather than the fruit. Please suggest me.

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