Here are five vegetables you can plant in January.
Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum)
Fresh tomato is a common vegetable in Philippine households used for various dishes. It is also processed into ketchup and sauces. It is known for its lycopene, beta-carotene, and vitamin C, which are good for health.
Tomato is ideally grown in a cool and dry climate with a temperature of 21° to 24°C to attain the premium quality of the harvest. It can be grown in sandy loam to clay-loam soil with an ideal pH of 6.0 to 6.5. Tomato should not be planted in areas with an extended period of flooding. It is usually planted from January to May or September to October.
Tomato seeds are usually sowed in seedling beds or trays first for three to four weeks before transplanting. It is then planted with a distance of 50 cm between hills and 100 cm between rows.
Complete basal fertilizer (14-14-14) is applied at 10 grams per hill after transplanting. After two weeks, 15 grams of urea (46-0-0) and muriate of potash (0-0-60) combined with the ratio of 2:1 is applied 6-8cm from the base of the plant. Lastly, this combination of fertilizers will be applied again after two weeks.
Trellis is constructed for varieties with long stems to support its plants and prevents the tomato fruit from touching the soil.
Tomato is harvested between 45 to 100 days, depending on the variety. During the hot season, tomato matures faster than in the cooler season. Tomatoes are harvested at color break or when the red/orange color starts to appear on the fruit.
Onion (Allium cepa)
An onion is an herb usually used as a spice. Onions are grown for their rounded edible bulb, usually used in salads, soups, and many other dishes. It is a common gourmet crop in the Philippines and internationally.
The most planted onion varieties in the Philippines are red, sweet yellow, and shallots. Onions are recommended to be planted from October to February. Onion is best suitable in open friable, well-drained, loam soils with a pH of 6 to 7. The best growing temperature is between 13⁰C and 24⁰C.
Application of basal fertilizer 14-14-14 fertilizer is applied one week before planting. And side dressing of urea (46-0-0) is recommended once during the vegetative stage.
Onions can be planted directly in the soil, but this method requires more seeds. Direct planting also results in variable bulb sizes. For a uniform growth of bulbs, it is recommended to grow the seedling in a seedbed. Before transplanting, the seedlings should be gradually introduced to sunlight, and irrigation should also be gradually reduced. The planting distance of seedlings is 15cm between hills and 15cm between rows.
Onions are harvested 3-4 months after transplanting. Onion bulbs are ready to be harvested when the neck or the part where the bulbs and top leaf meet softens. Top leaves falling down indicates that the onions can now be harvested.
Carrot (Daucus carota)
Carrot is grown for its fleshy roots. It is rich in beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A and an antioxidant.
Carrots can be planted throughout the year, but in areas with a pronounced wet and dry season, it is preferably planted from September to February. It is commonly grown in Philippine highlands because it requires a low temperature between 15⁰C to 18⁰C for root development. Growing carrots at higher temperatures will result in long, slender, and pale roots.
It prefers soil with sandy loam to clay loam with optimum pH of 6 to 6.8. Friable soil with good drainage is recommended. Planting carrots in stony and compacted soils should be avoided because it can cause root defects.
Deep plowing and pulverizing the soil is essential in the root growth of carrots. Carrot seeds should be planted directly in the ground and not transplanted to avoid root defects. It is sowed 15 cm between hills and 20cm between rows.
Basal application of complete (14-14-14) fertilizer is applied after the last harrowing with the rate of 11 bags per hectare. This is followed by side dressing of 2 bags of urea (46-0-0) and two bags of muriate of potash (0-0-60) per hectare at 50-60 days after sowing.
Carrots are harvested 75-103 days after sowing. The root crop is uprooted, and then leaves are cut 2cm from the base of the roots.
Eggplant (Solanum melongena)
The eggplant is one of the most commonly cultivated vegetables in the Philippines. It is grown for its immature elongated or oval-shaped fruit, primarily used as a vegetable ingredient for cooking.
Eggplants can be grown throughout the year. It is a warm weather crop because it can grow optimally from 21°C to 29°C. Eggplant should be planted in well-drained sandy loam or silt loam soils with a pH of 5.5 to 6.8.
For best-growing conditions, eggplants are grown in seed boxes or seedling trays for four to five weeks. In the last week before transplanting, the seedlings should be gradually introduced to direct sunlight, and irrigation should be slowly decreased to prevent transplanting shock.
The land is plowed once and harrowed twice. Then the seedlings are planted 75cm between hills and 100cm between rows. Complete (14-14-14) fertilizer is applied at 10 to 15 grams per plant. Side dressing of 10 grams of urea (46-0-0) per plant is applied every two weeks during the vegetative stage. At the fruiting stage, 10 grams of equal parts of urea (46-0-0) and muriate of potash (0-0-60) are applied.
The eggplant fruit can be harvested anytime, given that it has reached the desired size for the market and before the flesh becomes tough and the seeds harden. Harvesting usually takes 90-120 days after transplanting.
Pechay (Brassica rapa chinensis)
Pechay is grown for its fully expanded ovate leaves used in cooking Filipino food, like puchero and nilaga. It is also served fresh, in soup, or stir-fried. It is usually available and planted at any time of the year.
Pechay can be grown in mid to low elevations but is best planted in cool conditions. It is suitable for sandy to clay loam type of soil with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5.
The land is plowed and harrowed to achieve friable and porous soil for sowing pechay seeds or seedlings. Direct seeding can be done through hand broadcasting or sowing the seeds in rows. If sowed in seedling trays or seed beds, pechay seedlings can be transplanted 15 days after sowing and spaced 10 cm between plants and 20 cm between rows.
Pechay is a fast-growing plant. It requires an adequate amount of water and should be irrigated every day during the dry season.
Fresh pechay can be harvested as early as 25 to 30 days after transplanting. Harvesting is usually done early morning or late afternoon, when it is not too hot, to avoid postharvest losses due to wilting.
Production guides are available for download on the Department of Agriculture Bureau of Plant Industry website here