Originating from South Asia, Cucumbers are long, lean, and green garden vegetables, also taken as fruits. According to health experts, cucumbers have a wide variety of health benefits. They’re low in calories and are made up of a good amount of water and soluble fiber.
This is why they’re recommended for use to keep the body hydrated and aid weight loss. In various parts of Nigeria, cucumbers are high in demand in markets due to their numerous benefits.
If you’re looking to start a cucumber farm, in this article, we’ll walk you through the required steps you need to take for a successful business venture.
Why Invest in Cucumber Farming?
Various factors are responsible for the rise in the popularity of cucumber in Nigerian markets in recent years. The increased popularity drives the high consumption rate of the fruit in this country, thereby pushing up its demand.
All this shows investing in cucumber farming is quite promising, and the market for the fruit is very big and ever-present. Many Nigerians eat cucumbers for their numerous health benefits.
Taking the vegetable promotes good health, supports the digestive system, and helps your skin fight aging effects. Cucumbers also aid weight control and stress management. They produce rich anti-oxidants that help body cells fight against diseases.
Steps Required to Start a Cucumber Farm
Choose a good location
Select a loamy-clay soil as cucumbers require adequate water supply (keep in mind that 90% of the fruit contains water). A loamy-clay soil absorbs and retains water.
Cucumbers also need enough sunlight. For this reason, ensure the land you want to choose for planting doesn’t have shades that will block sunlight from entering and prevent the fruit from growing properly. Also, ensure the site is easily accessible to make your cucumbers’ transportation easier and for your buyers to reach the farm without stress.
Sourcing for seeds
How successful your cucumber farming becomes primarily depends on the seed you used for the cultivation. For this reason, it’s important to give careful considerations to the choice of seed and the source to opt for.
Preparing the Land
Ensure the land to be used is cleared and all weeds on it removed to achieve the best results. You should then prepare the beds for adequate, coordinated spacing. Avoid using herbicides to weed the farm because it can make the soil inadequate for the growth of cucumber.
If the soil is dry, try to moisten it before planting. You also need to make sure the soil pH is well-balanced. The soil pH has to be fairly neutral-slightly alkaline (pH level around 7.0) if possible.
Before you plant the cucumber, fertilize the soil using NPK 15:15:15 or organic manure. However, we recommend making use of organic manure to ensure the soil is natural and aid your crops’ health.
Planting methods in cucumber farming
When you start the planting process in the field, your cucumber seeds should be pushed slightly into the soil on the beds at roughly 1 inch into the top of the soil. As for the planting space, that needs to within 45.72 – 92.44cm apart. (This is applicable when you want to plant seeds/seedlings/transplanted seeds.)
After planting the cucumber seeds, you’ll make stakes at the sides of the beds for supporting the cucumber leaves as they grow since cucumbers are largely climbers and generally need supports to grow.
Once the seedlings sprout up, use mulching films for mulching the vacant soil. Mulching is the process of covering the vacant beds (those areas you didn’t plant the seeds on; thus creating an opening in which you plant your seeds for growing). The vacant beds of the soil are covered using long/roll of dark nylon that’s commonly sold in markets.
You can use a shovel for putting the mulch, opening the sides at the edge of the beds, and tucking the films in the mulch. Mulching is important because it’s effective for keeping the soil moist and warm. It also helps in controlling the quick growth of weeds. If you’re planning to do the planting in the nursery, after which you’ll transplant the seedlings to the field, it’s crucial to fertilize the soil.
Planting and irrigation
You can plant cucumbers any time of the year; once there’s enough and adequate water source. Thus, adequate arrangement has to be put in place for the water source, and that could be from a borehole source or nearby stream. You can use sprinklers to spray water, control erosion, or prevent too much drought or dampness.
Manual weeding has to be done at around 20–30 days after doing the planting. Then, you’ll need to apply placid liquid fertilizer or organic fertilizer (preferably) every two weeks. Also, ensure the leaves are prevented from turning yellow. However, if it does, consider applying a high-nitrogen fertilizer. Avoid over-fertilizing the plants.
Controlling pests and diseases in the farm
Pests and diseases are among the major issues affecting the successful growth of a cucumber farm business in this country. Some flies, such as bees and butterflies, that typically perch on the leaves of the cucumber are beneficial. This is because they don’t eat the leaves; they only perch on the leaves at daytime due to the brightness of the cucumbers flower.
However, some insects that eat the leave destroy the cucumber plant. Examples are anthracnose, mosaic, mildew, beetles, ladybird, and grasshoppers. Study their frequency and time of visits to your farm to determine how best to control them by spraying insecticides regularly.
Harvesting and marketing
Cucumbers are ready for harvest when their color appears green. Make sure you do the harvest before they become ripe (yellow in color). No one will want to buy this type of cucumbers.
Before you do the harvest, search for buyers interested in purchasing the fruit. That way, you can prevent it from spoiling after storage.
Using these tips, you can start a cucumber farm successfully. Cucumber is consumed as a fruit and vegetable with a wide variety of health benefits. This is one of the reasons for their high demand in the markets.