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African vegetable garden

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Sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas)
Sweet potato
  • Sweet potato
  • Peanut
  • Cowpea, black-eyed pea
  • Sorghum
  • African millet, pearl millet and teff
  • African eggplant
  • Hot peppers
  • Calabash (gourd)
  • Okra
Suggested seedling dates are for the Montreal area;
For other regions, rely on the calendar or temperature indications provided.
The last risk of frost in Montreal is around May 31.

Root vegetables

Sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas)

  • In February, plant healthy and firm (ideally organic) store-bought potatoes in pots, and place them in a warm, bright place. About six weeks later, they will produce shoots to take cuttings from. You can also sprout sweet potatoes in water.
  • Prune the shoots to 5-10 cm long and pot them individually in potting soil.
  • Water and cover the cuttings with a dome or a translucent plastic bag. Place the pots on a heater mat and under artificial lighting or in a warm, sunny location (but under no direct sunlight as long as the dome is in place). After 1 to 2 weeks, the cuttings will have taken root, and the dome can be removed.
  • Plant in the garden once the risk of frost is over. Harvest the tuberous roots when the foliage turns yellow in the fall.

Legumes

Peanut (Arachis hypogaea)

  • Sow indoors around mid-April (about 7 weeks before the last frost). Use peanuts in shell and raw or from a seed company.
  • Take the seeds out of the pod and sow the peanuts in individual pots (3 to 4 peanuts per 9 cm pot). Use biodegradable pots so as not to disturb the roots when planting.
  • Plant in the garden once the risk of frost is over and the soil has warmed up.
  • Do not fertilize the plants (no compost or fertilizer).
  • Peanuts take 90 to 150 days after transplanting to reach maturity. Pull the plants out when the foliage has dried out, in early fall. To check the maturity of the pods, collect a few and open them. The inside of the pods must have turned brown.
  • Remove excess soil with your hands then let the plants dry for 1 to 2 weeks in a warm place before pruning the stems and detaching the pods. Rinse and dry the pods. Store them in paper bags. To consume the peanuts, roast them in the oven, in their pod.

Black-eyed pea (Vigna unguiculata subsp. unguiculata)

  • Get seeds from a seed company or buy organic seeds at the grocery store. Seeds should not be more than 3 years old to sprout properly.
  • Sow directly in the garden when the temperature remains above 18 °C and the soil is warm. Do not sow too deeply (3 to 5 cm).
  • Do not fertilize (no compost or fertilizer), otherwise the plants will only make foliage.
  • Be careful with hoeing, as the roots are shallow.
  • Earth up the plants to help them stand up straight.
  • Harvest when the pods are dry (dry grains are eaten).

Cereals

Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor)

  • Sow indoors around April 20 (about 6 weeks before the last frost) or directly in the garden when the temperature remains above 16-18 °C.
  • Harvest 110 to 140 days after sowing, ideally before the frost. Ripe grains are hard.
  • Dry the grains quickly to preserve their quality.

African millet (Eleusine coracana), pearl millet (Cenchrus americanus)
and teff grass (Eragrostis tef)

  • Sow directly in the garden in early June, when the temperature remains above 16-18 °C.
  • Harvest in the fall. Because African millet grains ripen unevenly, cut off the inflorescences as they dry.

Fruits vegetables

Scarlet eggplant (Gilo) (Solanum aethiopicum gr. Gilo)
and gboma eggplant (Solanum macrocarpon)

These plants require rich soil (compost and natural fertilizers), sun and a lot of heat (18 to 29 °C). They are sensitive to wind and drought.

  • Sow indoors around the end of March (about 10 weeks before the last frost).
  • Plant in the garden in early June, when the temperature rises above 18 °C, keeping 60 cm between each plant.
  • Bury the collar 4 cm deep to encourage new roots where the plant is buried. This will make it more solid.
  • You can harvest the fruits of scarlet eggplant (Gilo) before maturity (shiny green fruits, quite light, firm without being hard) or when ripe (orange fruits, more bitter but without seeds). You can eat the young leaves (cooked, in small amounts) of gboma eggplant and its fruits.

Hot peppers (Capsicum annuum, C. baccatum, C. chinense)

Peppers need heat, sun and regular watering. Excess nitrogen should be avoided, which stimulates leaf growth more than the fruits themselves.

  • Sow indoors from early to mid-March (about 11-13 weeks before the last frost).
  • Plant in the garden when the temperature exceeds 18 °C. If the temperature is too cool during transplantation, production will be less abundant or the fruits produced will be deformed.
  • Ideally transplant before flowering, or else remove the flowers at the time of planting.
  • Bury the plants up to the cotyledons and, later, mound soil around the stem to encourage new roots where the plant is buried.
  • Keep 50 cm between each plant, and stake them.
  • Harvest the fruits when they have reached their full color. The more you harvest, the more productive the plant.

Calabash or gourd (Lagenaria siceraria)

  • Sow indoors in early May (about 4-5 weeks before the last frost) and plant in the garden in early June in loose, rich and warm soil. You can also sow directly outdoors in early June.
  • Choose a location that is sheltered from the wind and allow the plant enough space to grow well.
  • Grow the calabash on a black geotextile fabric.
  • Make sure the plants do not lack water during fructification.
  • Dry the fruit completely over winter at room temperature.

Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus)

  • Sow indoors around April 20 (about 6 weeks before the last frost).
  • Plant in the garden when the temperature is above 18 °C.
  • Harvest the fruits when they are small and tender: 5 to 8 cm long.

Leafy vegetables

Green amaranth (Amaranthus viridis) and tossa jute (Corchorus olitorius)

  • Sow indoors around April 20 (about 6 weeks before the last frost) and plant in the garden after the last frost.
  • Prune plants regularly to prevent them from flowering. Flowering makes the leaves bitter and less tender.

Some seed suppliers: Hamidou Horticulture, W.H. Perron, Richters Herbs, Stokes Seeds, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

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