Lettuce farming is quite the money bringer nowadays. This isn’t much of a surprise due to the commonality of salad and coleslaw in many homes, restaurants, fast food joints, and social occasions.
Yes, lettuce is a common vegetable in Nigeria. Moreover, I am sure you have taken lettuce in meals before, possibly you are today.
Well, do you know that lettuce is economically viable, and that farmers that are into lettuce farming are making money through high sales? Yes, lettuce is in high demand, especially in this part of the world as many don’t cook without adding the vegetable. Therefore, venturing into the cultivation of lettuce can be a profitable investment of your time, money, and energy.
However, the knowledge they say is power, now this article is meant to equip you with all the necessary information you will need to successfully start lettuce farming. Therefore, here is an exposition on how to start lettuce farming in Nigeria and make plenty of money for yourself.
Preparation of land for lettuce farming
Land is a capital resource you will need to begin lettuce farming. You can farm without land. So, you must acquire an area of land to use for your lettuce farming. After the acquisition of the land, you must make necessary preparations to make the land fit for lettuce farming.
Land preparation is very important because using land with poor soil will only render your effort futile. For the cultivation of lettuce, you need well-drained sandy loam soil. Avoid soggy or water-logged soil. Well-drained soil is well aerated and the soil structure is conducive for the sound growth of lettuce. Note that as you are set to acquire land, the soil therein has to be fit for farming or adequately fertile for farming.
However, for land whose fertility is not adequate, you can add organic manure to the land to further improve or restore the structure of the soil. The addition of organic manure such as cattle dung or chicken droppings will help to restore the fertility of the soil or further improve it. This helps to keep the land fertile and conducive for your lettuce farming.
Cultivation of nursery
You can either plant your lettuce by cultivating in a nursery then transplanting or directly planting the lettuce in the field. Whichever way you choose will serve the purpose of producing lettuce for harvest.
Cultivation begins by preparing a nursery bed through tilling and flattening of the soil. Grooves of about one inch should be marked across the bed, then the seeds should be lightly distributed evenly along the grooves. Flatten the grooves by using your hands to scatter the soil across the bed.
The next thing to do is to carry out mulching. Mulching involves the use of stalks of grass to cover the top of the bed to prevent direct sunlight and water. This is important because direct sunlight can either off the lettuce sprouting and water can erode the soil and dig out the seedlings from the soil. The grass stalks should be supported using short stilts. This is to prevent the stalks from resting directly on the nursery bed which can impede against healthy growth of the lettuce.
Transplanting involves moving the seedlings, after 2 to 3 weeks of cultivation, from the nursery to the field. Transplanting can be done onto ridges or on a bed.
Transplanting should be carried out on well-drained sandy loam soil and there should be the spacing of about 6 to 10 inches between transplanted seedlings. Spacing is very important as it gives room for the crops to spread and blossom.
It is advisable to use organic manure in lettuce farming to boost nutrient supply and consequently the farm yield. Organic manure can be mixed with the soils in the field before transplanting is carried out.
We all know that irrigation is simply the artificial application of water in farms to supplement the lack of rain in the dry season. Well, lettuce can be cultivated all year round through irrigation. That is, you can cultivate and harvest lettuce during the dry season. All you need is a constant water supply or source of water such as a river, dam, stream, or borehole.
These sources of water can be harnessed to provide sufficient water through irrigation channels to your lettuce farm.
You can set up an irrigation structure that pumps water into the farm through pipes or hoses. You could also set it up in a way that sprinkles water over the lettuce farm.
Caring for the crop
Like every other crop, lettuce needs to be tended to. Tending to this crop involves clearing weeds in the farm either manually or by using herbicides. The use of pesticides to kill off pests that may attack the crop and eat up the leaves. The leaves are an important part of the lettuce crop. Also, fertiliser should be used to boost the nutrient content in the soil. Nutrients are ingested by the lettuce crop which helps to boost growth and yield.
When the lettuce reaches maturity, the application of pesticides and herbicides should be stopped so the side effect of the chemicals can fade off before harvesting.
Harvesting lettuce when the pesticides or herbicides applied are still active is hazardous to the health. It can cause health complications in consumers which in turn affects your business. Ensure that every chemical is stopped before maturity or long before harvest.
Lettuce is in high demand and there are just a handful of commercial lettuce farmers in the nation. This creates a window of opportunity for you to venture into the business.
With proper management and marketing strategy, you can make a fortune that will turn your life around through lettuce farming. I hope this article is helpful, you can ask questions, make suggestions or share your experience by commenting in the comment box below.