Broccoli has become a popular vegetable with consumers in recent years, because of all its reported health benefits. For one, the vegetable has been noted to contain cancer-fighting properties. However, problems experienced with the growing of the vegetable in the past caused farmers to shy away from the cultivation of broccoli. Many of the varieties only developed small heads, which affected the marketability of the crop.
The leek (Allium porrum) is part of the onion family and thus shares some of the same propagation protocols. It is vulnerable to similar pests and diseases, but there are also differences between the two plants. One of the benefits of farming with leeks is that, unlike onions, leeks do not have to reach a specific level of maturity before the plants can be used. In fact, the leeks are cut to the required size for the dish in question, such as soup or stew, regardless of the vegetable’s size or length. Leeks are mostly used as part of soups and stews. As such, the demand for leeks is higher in South Africa during the colder winter months. Farmers should keep this in mind when they plant leek seedlings
The rising cost of seeds and other input materials necessitates that modern vegetable farmers choose their nursery supplier with care.
Farmers worldwide acknowledge the fact that profitable vegetable production begins by using good quality seedlings as the first step in achieving a successful crop. Since the inherent traits of seedlings cannot be improved during the growing process, farmers should be mindful of the well proven adage: “Prevention is better than cure”. It is vitally important that they determine that their supplier uses only quality seed to produce the best seedlings consistently.
Farmers who plant with seedlings rather than seed experience numerous benefits, especially in times of drought including:
- Restricted losses: Losses of expensive seed are minimized with effective use of plugs since the 2-3 week germination period in the field does not occur. Germination losses in harsh climatic conditions such as extreme heat are overcome. Choosing a professional nursery and quality seedlings will maximize the seeds potential.
Necessity has always been the main force driving innovation in the world. Intensive agriculture practices provides many examples, such as the cucumbers growing industry. High demand in the markets, fast crop cycle and two or more cycles per year places this crop as one of the most intensive in the vegetable growing industry.