By Onyekwelu Peace
Cultivating the soil is an essential act of sustaining human livelihood. This act of cultivation gives rise to crops—plants grown and harvested for subsistence or commercial purpose. These crops can be food crops, feed crops, fiber crops, ornamental crops or industrial crops.
Crops grow very well and yield good produce based on different factors such as weather conditions, soil texture or fertility, availability of water, sunlight, absence of pest and diseases.
Planting of crops during rainy season is vital to its survival. This is a climate factor that cannot be bargained.
The rainy season in Nigeria usually starts from April to the end of October. It is during this period that farmers prepare their farmlands and make ridges for planting.
Plants such as maize, cucumbers, rice, tomatoes, yam, millet, cassava, pepper, pumpkin leaves, cowpea etc. can make it through the rainy season. Good rains (not floods) during this season result in bountiful crops which benefit the farmers.
The following crops will yield bountifully during the rainy season:
Tomato is the edible berry of tomato plant. It is mostly planted in the northern part of Nigeria. Planting of tomatoes can be done in an open field, pot, greenhouses, gardens and containers.
The soil suitable for planting tomato is a dark loamy soil which has been loosed with a hoe. It takes sixty (60) days to more than hundred (100) days to harvest depending on the variety.
Tomatoes are summer season vegetables usually planted between March and June. The soil must be very fertile in order to enhance it growth and productivity.
Maize (also known as corn) is a cereal grain planted during late April towards early May in order to maximize corn yield. It is mostly grown in the South West and some parts of the Northern Nigeria.
By mid-April, planting maize produces a good yield if not damaged by a freeze in May. It can be planted in a clay or loamy soil which contains good organic matter contents and has the capacity to hold water. The seeds are planted about 1 inch deep and 3 to 4 inches apart in a row, otherwise, the corn will have small, poorly field ears. It requires about 60 to 100 days to reach harvest depending on the variety and warm weather. The corn is ready for harvest when the ears turn dark green.
Peppers are produced in different colors including red, yellow,orange, green etc. It has different species such as bell peppers, shishito peppers, poblano peppers, Chile peppers, and lots more. It is also grown in Northern Nigeria and transported massively to the South West even when it is being grown in the region.
It is best planted in a loamy soil. It is planted 6 to 8 weeks before transplanting it into the garden. Its peppers must be ripe and its seeds very matured, in order to geminate and flourish. It takes about 60 to 100 days to mature.
Cowpea is a legume which is also called black eyed pea or southern pea. Kaduna and Katsina has the highest production areas of cowpea in Nigeria. The plant is highly proteinous. It is a plant that can survive in broad weather conditions, and is grown mostly in a rich, well drained sandy soil.
It is planted between mid-June and mid-July but tends to yield bountifully when planted between late July and early August. It needs some support like long sticks, poles or fence during growth for the plants to coil on. Cowpea takes 80 days or more to be matured for harvesting.
This is the cultivation of plantain. The South-East, South-South and South-West have the most favourable conditions for cultivating plantains. Planting plantains during rainy season or at the beginning of rainy season is very essential. The plant will grow without stress during the first 3 to 4 months after planting.
Plantain is best planted in loamy soil. Loamy soil contains good organic and inorganic materials like decaying plants and animals which help boost production processes and bumper yields.
It takes about 8 months to grow and 3 months for the plantain to mature which is about a year before harvesting.
Potato is a root crop. It is rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. These constituents make it very healthy. It is highly cultivated in the central region of Plateau state and best planted before the rainy season between March to April.
Others prefer to cultivate potatoes during rainy season because warm, dry weather can cause stress to non-irrigated potatoes and late rainfall could help boost the spuds and softens the soil.
Sandy soil and sandy-loamy soil are suitable for planting potatoes, and they are best planted in rows. It takes 2 to 4 weeks to sprout and 6 months to be matured.
These are few crops amongst others that can survive the rainy season and can also be done around or behind the house, or in a nursery. Some biennial crops such as paw paw, okra, carrots, cabbage, pineapple etc. can also be done as subsistence farming to help the family live healthy.