Cultivation of the Great Green Leaf

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It’s dark green , its shaped like , It has a lot of nutrients and phytochemical , it’s every mother’s friend. It can be used for different delicacies and cuisine…

It’s …wait for it…UGWU

Ugwu is known as “fluted pumpkin” and has an English name known as Telfairia occidentalis which is grown in West Africa as a leaf vegetable and for its edible seeds. Common names for the plant include fluted gourd, ugwu (in the Igbo language), and ikong-ubong (in the Efik/Ibibio language). It has been estimated that 30-35 million in Nigeria consume these leaf which is really a profitable venture business to start in Nigeria.

Ugwu is planted because of its edible leaves and sometimes, because of its seed which produce a special kind of oil used for cooking and soap making.

Cultivating Ugwu farming during the dry season is the best and sure to increase returns on investment but must be done professionally using irrigation method. The irrigation method can be either spray tube/hose irrigation, drip irrigation or manual irrigation (Watering).

Availability of water is the major goal for proper growth and development in the cultivation of ugwu and there are various factors to consider when choosing the best irrigation which are source of water, land topography, staff skills, land history and others.

There are 5 steps involved for Ugwu farming in Nigeria

Site Selection

Ugwu can be planted anywhere in the country provided the soil is fertile and well-drained and not water logged. The farm should be exposed to sunlight and the soil must be at a particular PH level. The PH level for the soil of ugwu is between 6.5 - 7.

After site inspection, road accessibility,nearness to water source, application of organic manure two weeks before you plant and labor must be done.

Land Preparation

After the land has been carefully selected, the land has to be prepared, cleared and the stumps has to be removed as well to make the land free from weeds. The plot has to be marked-out to know the portion where the seeds would be planted. There are methods to planting ugwu:

Planting using dibbling methods- the soil is scooped and the seeds are inserted into the soil. The soil is not tilled.

Planting on beds: nursery beds are involved, land is tilled and pulverized. Raised beds of about 4m by 4m are constructed to reduce the risk of erosion. The raised beds can also be done 1m by 1m to allow easy passage of workers ,irrigation equipment and other farm tools.

Urea is best applied on the farm because it promotes massive growth of the leaves. Another option is applying NPK fertilizer at the ratio of 15:15:15.

Pre-planting

Seeds should be planted a foot apart and the depth shouldn’t be that deep. Matured seeds are extracted and air dried for about 24 hours before planting . After extracting the seeds, the seed can be treated with insecticide-fungicide mixture to prevent the seeds from insects and fungi attack.

Water the seeds everyday for at least two weeks and plant begin to germinate after a week or two.

Post-planting

Watering : The seedlings have to be watered daily for the first two weeks of emergence to enable them grow well.

Weeding : Weeding should be done every 2 weeks to ensure that the growing plant isn’t starved of water and vital nutrients. The plant starts climbing the sticks which helps to prevent them against diseases especially during the rainy season.

Fertilizer application : A nitrogenous fertilizer such as urea is the best to apply on ugwu farms to enhance the growth of the vegetatives parts or leaves of plant. The best organic matter is poultry waste because it has the highest nitrogen content which serves as chlorophyll formation in plants.

Staking : A raised platform is constructed above the plant so that it can easily climb and have a fast growth and development.

Harvesting

Ugwu are ready for harvest a month (30days) after planting usually .If your farm is commercial, it is best you wait for two month before you start harvesting and you can keep harvesting for 8 month at an interval of 15days.

I hope this helps … Enjoy!

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