Vegetable Crops in Nigeria (Vegetable, Carrot, Cucumber & Lettuce)


Vegetable Crops in Nigeria (Vegetable, Carrot, Cucumber & Lettuce)

Vegetable crops consist of a diverse range of plants that are suitable for eating raw or uncooked. This group includes lettuce, baby leaf, celery, watercress, radish, and salad onion. These vegetables are grown for their economic importance to man and are very familiar in every Nigerian home. Apart from these other vegetables, some other tropical crops have also been successfully cultivated in different parts of Nigeria.

These include lettuce, cabbage, cucumber and carrot. These four vegetables are very popular with people from temperate countries who live in Nigeria. The plants are a common feature of vegetable salad often served at cocktail parties, and other menu in big hotels.

You will definitely see that they are a crucial part of the menu of the people.

Read On: Common Food Crops in Nigeria

Vegetable Crops in Nigeria

Vegetable Crops in Nigeria (Vegetable, Carrot, Cucumber & Lettuce)

1. Cabbage (Brassca oleraccal)

Cabbage grows well in high latitude areas of Nigeria such as the Jos, Plateau State where the annual mean temperature is low. However, cabbages may successfully be cultivated in wet, hotter areas if suitable seeds are available and the seedlings and transplants are carefully managed. The time of planting must be carefully selected, while the plants must be adequately supplied with the right nutrients to ensure success. In addition to mean low temperature, the soil must be well manure and fertilized. Adequate shade is also necessary to prevent excessive loss of water.


It is possible to grow cabbages all year round. However, the best results are achieved when the sowing time is carefully selected. It is best when the heads of young plants are forming, at the coldest time of the year [December/January].

This timing enables the young plant to withstand harsh harmattan conditions. The seeds are sown in nursery beds individually, leaving about 46cm between adjacent plants. Seeds should be sown at a depth of 0.6cm.

Germination takes place in about five days. Thinning of the seedlings should take place three days after germination. About four weeks after germination, the seedlings may be transplanted into well-fertilized and prepared beds.

Each seedling should be lifted carefully with a ball of soil, around the roots to minimize the disturbance to the roots. Each cabbage plant is planted at 50cm intervals, under adequate shade.

Fertilizer Application

During the process of growth, a nitrogen-containing fertilizer such as ammonium sulphate or N.P.K. should be sprinkled on to the soil around the plant every 2-3 weeks. Cabbages are gross feeders, which require a lot of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus.

Harvesting Cabbages are usually ready for harvesting two to three months after planting. During harvesting, the stalks are usually cut and thrown away. If however the stalks are left in the ground, they may develop into new cabbages, which could eventually be harvested.


Cabbages are cultivated for their abundant leaf growth. The leaves are either cooked or used as a major ingredient in the preparation of vegetable salad. The leaves also supply vitamins and minerals needed for maintaining good health. Cabbages are also of value as roughage, which facilitates digestion of food.


2. Carrot (Daucus carota)

Carrot is yet another foreign vegetable that has been successful1y cultivated in several parts of Nigeria. Two main varieties of carrot are commonly grown in Nigeria. These are the stump-rooted type and the point-rooted variety.


Unlike cabbages, the seeds are sown straight into the permanent beds where they germinate, grow, develop, bear fruit and become ready for harvest. Carrots prefer lightly, sandy soil with good supply of plant nutrients. Compacted clay soil may lead to poor formation of roots.

The seeds are usually planted in drills (shal1ow depressions in the soil) in December or January, about 1.2cm to 2.5cm deep. The drills are usually 10-15cm apart. The drills are located in rows, which are about 30cm apart. The germination of the seeds can be increased by soaking them in water or mixing them with moist sand.

Seed Treatment

The worst pest of carrot seeds should be treated with chemicals such as Dieldrin, Aldrin or Lindare as a precaution against carrot fly. The optimum temperature for high yield is 60° - 70°F. 3.2.3 Seed Bed Preparation Before sowing, a surface dressing of super phosphate fertilizer, ammonium sulphate and potassium sulphate should be done on the soil to speed up growth. The use of farm yard manure must be avoided as it causes the forking of roots. Similarly, application of excess nitrogen based fertilizer must be avoided as it causes the splitting of roots.

Seed-Bed Maintenance

Germination of seeds is slow as it occurs many days after sowing. The soil around young plants should be covered with dry grasses (mulching) to retain water in the soil and reduce the growth of weeds. When the plants are 2-3cm high, they are thinned to leave 5-8cm between plants. The young carrot plant bears a few fern-like compound leaves, which arise from the crown of the root. Availability of water in the soil is an important factor which affects root formation; therefore, the plants must be well watered during the processes of growth and development.


The harvesting of mature carrots is done 60 to 90 days after planting. During harvesting, the roots are pulled out of the soil. The shoots may and may not be removed before they are marketed. Harvesting of carrots must be timely as the roots can go woody if left too long.

Carrot fly usually attacks carrots; also of great threat are fungi diseases such as leaf blight, bacteria and nematode diseases such as soft rot and root rot, respectively. To control the spread of bacteria and fungi diseases, infected plants should be burnt. Fumigating the soil with nonagon several weeks before the commencement of planting can control nematode disease.


Carrots are grown, primarily, as food crop because of their fleshy roots. The roots of the most suitable variety for eating have a milk flavour; and are reasonably sweet, crisp and tender. Carrots have a considerable good nutritional value. They contain an orange coloured matter called carotene, which is particularly valuable in human and animal diets.

Carotene is an important source of vitamin A, which is required for the normal functioning of the human eye. In addition, the roots contain sugar and calcium salts needed for the development of strong bones and teeth. The roots can either be eaten raw, used along with other vegetables for preparing salads; they can be cooked in different ways. The roots are rarely dried. However, when carefully roasted and ground into powder, they could also acts as a substitute for coffee. They can also be used as flavour in soups and stews. Extract from carrots are also used for colouring butter.

In addition, several very large coarse and no tasty varieties of carrot are cultivated abroad. These varieties are used as food for livestock, most especially, horses and rabbits.

Read On: Identification of Crops According to Life Cycle and Nature

3. Cucumber (Cucumis sativus)

The cucumber family of plants is climbing vegetables, which are very useful to man in both the tropical and temperate regions of the world. They are spreading or climbing plants. Many varieties exist such as cucumber, melons and pumpkins, which have been successfully cultivated in different parts of Nigeria. We shall limit our discussion to the cultivation of cucumber.


Cucumber grows well in outdoor ridges where there is sufficient warmth, moisture and a good supply of plant nutrient. It prefers a fairly loose soil enriched with organic manure. Cucumber may not do well in highly compacted waterlogged clay soil. Like carrots, the seeds are grown straight into permanent beds or ridges. They germinate, grow, and produce fruits, which are harvested. The sowing of the seeds should begin at the end of the rainy season (about October).

This may continue throughout the dry season, if adequate watering is maintained. The seeds are sown on previously prepared sandy beds, which have been adequately manured and fertilized. Two rows of seeds are sown per bed. A spacing of l0cm should be maintained between the rows and 60cm between the seeds. The seeds should be sown in little soil depressions not more than 2cm deep.

When sowing is completed, the ridges are covered with dead grasses (mulching). This prevents excessive loss of water, which could lead to the germinating seeds becoming dry. Have you noted the similarities between the cultivation of carrots and cucumber?

You remember that:

i. The seeds are planted directed into the soil.

ii. They prefer fertilized, loose, sandy soil.

iii. Mulching is necessary for success. Other similarities, and of course, some differences will be made known to you as you read on.


Germination of cucumber seeds occurs 3 - 4 days after sowing. As they are climbing vegetables, they soon develop climbing aids called tendrils, and then, start to climb. Hence, it is important that adequate support is provided for the seedlings, in advance. Shrub branches or sticks, which are approximately 1 meter in length, will provide an adequate support for cucumber. Have you noted some differences between the cultivation of carrot and cucumber?

If you do not, remember that:

i. Carrot seeds germinate very slowly, while cucumber seeds germinate in 3 - 4 days.

ii. Carrot does not require any support, but cucumbers do. Note too that provision of support is necessary in both the cultivation of tomatoes and cucumber, but for different reasons. Write down the reasons. If you have difficulty remembering the reasons go back and revise the relevant sections of previous units.

Disease Control

Mildew fungi readily attack the leaves of cucumber plants, causing a lot of damage. This decreases performance of the plant.

To control this disease, the leaves of cucumber plants should never be sprayed directly with water. Watering should be restricted to the soil around the stem. Badly infected plants should be pulled up and burnt, to avoid the spread of the infection. A chemical used for, controlling fungal diseases (fungicide) such as dithane can be used to treat infected plants. To ensure success, weeds must be closely controlled by hoeing. However, hoeing must be carefully done to avoid damage to stem roots, which are located around the surface of the soil.


Cucumber fruits mature in about two months, after the seeds are sown. The fruits are harvested manually, by plucking. Unless diseases destroy the plants, harvesting of fresh fruits may continue for another one month.


Cucumber plant is cultivated for its juicy and crisp fruit, which can be eaten raw. It can be used as an important ingredient in the preparation of vegetable salads. It is rich in vitamin C and mineral salts. The vegetable is sold in local markets to generate revenue for farmers.

Read On: Types of Soil: Characteristics and Importance

4. Lettuce

Lettuce is not really a tropical crop. It is usually grown in temperate regions of the world. However, certain varieties have been successfully grown in the tropics with proper care. For example, webb's wonder has been successfully grown in the cold parts of Nigeria (for example, Jos Plateau). This variety has crisp curling, and glossy but fleshy leaves. Lettuce grows well in well-drained soil with adequate supply of organic matter.


Viable seeds are sown in nursery beds or boxes, which have been previously fertilized. Old seeds should not be planted. It is important to sterilize the soil in the nursery boxes to destroy harmful soil organisms such as bacteria, fungi, viruses and nematodes, which may attack the lettuce plant. Weeds are also destroyed through the process of sterilization. This prevents such weeds from competing with lettuce plant for valuable plant nutrients.


Recall that tomato and cabbage seedlings have to be given special nursery care to ensure success. If you do not remember this similarity in the cultivation of these vegetables, note it now. The seeds of lettuce are grown in drills of a depth of about 1.2cm to 25cm. After dropping the seeds into the drills, they are lightly covered with soil. The soil is subsequently pressed down with a planting shovel.


Germination takes place within a few days. The young seedlings should be well watered and provided with adequate nutrients through regular fertilization. The seedlings should be transplanted in 3-4 weeks when they have 4-5 leaves. Each seedling should be transplanted with a ball of soil around the roots. Recall the reasons for this practice? It is to ensure minimum disturbance and damage to the roots. Seedlings should be spaced at 20cm intervals. There should be no more than four rows of plants per bed or ridge. Mulching should be done to prevent young seedling from drying out. During the dry season, plants should be watered frequently and possibly with light shading.


Control Bacterial leaf spot, mosaic virus and root knot nematode disease may attack lettuce plants. Sterilizing the soil of the nursery bed can control these diseases. Badly infected plants should be pulled out and burned.


Lettuce is ready for harvesting six to twelve weeks after planting. The plants are pulled out of the ground and washed thoroughly and disinfected before consumption.


Like carrot, cabbage and cucumber, lettuce can be eaten raw. Lettuce is cultivated for its leaves, which are rich in vitamin C and mineral salts. The leaves are also used for preparing salad.

Read On: Environmental Factors Affecting Agricultural Production

Conclusion Vegetable Crops in Nigeria (Vegetable, Carrot, Cucumber & Lettuce)

You have noticed that these vegetables are common features of vegetable salads and they also perform better in some locations in Nigeria than even some temperate countries. They supply vitamins and minerals needed for maintaining good health.

This article has really enumerated the importance of cultivating the four vegetables- cabbage, carrot, cucumber and lettuce. They are all cultivated from seeds while adequate fertilization and watering of seeds will improve their performance. Cabbage, carrot, cucumber and lettuce can be eaten raw as salad. They also serve as important sources of vitamin C and mineral salts.

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