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Feedback: Cabbages, potatoes, lettuce and other crops you can farm as a starter

Thursday November 14 2019

A farmer displays cabbages in her farm in this past photo.

A farmer displays cabbages in her farm in this past photo. One can try growing cabbages, sukuma wiki, spinach, strawberry, garden peas, potato, leeks, lettuce, pepino melon, French beans, indigenous vegetables such as spider plant, black nightshade, amaranth, rattle pod, jute mallow, vine spinach and Russian comfrey when starting out on an agribusiness venture. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

SEEDS OF GOLD EXPERTS
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LESS DEMANDING CROPS TO GROW

I have an acre in Dundori on the border of Nyandarua and Nakuru counties. Kindly advise on suitable agribusiness ventures that will not tie me down considering I have a demanding full-time job.

Munyua, Nakuru

There are many crops that can do well in Dundori but remember you can’t grow a crop and then you don’t take care of it. If it is not you taking care of the crop, you can employ someone but also make sure you visit the farm regularly.

The plants will need to be weeded, pests and diseases controlled besides other management practices that vary depending on the crop.

You can try cabbages, sukuma wiki, spinach, strawberry, garden peas, potato, leeks, lettuce, pepino melon, French beans, indigenous vegetables such as spider plant, black nightshade, amaranth, rattle pod, jute mallow, vine spinach and Russian comfrey.

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Carol Mutua,
Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils, Egerton University.

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HOW TO FATTEN BULLS

How can I fatten bulls in a short time for sale?

Kevin Musau

Bull fattening is done in readiness for sale. Mostly during the harsh weather when we don’t have enough pasture and water, animals raised in the dry areas can be fattened with proper planning to fetch more.

Fattening of bulls requires a quality diet. This means doing high quality hay and having it in your store, making silage, making a concentrate to improve on protein and energy nutrition and also having minerals and vitamin sources that can be bought as premix.

Total mixed ration way of feeding is also encouraged. This is where you mix weighed proportions of grass, silage, premix and concentrates that meet the bulls’ nutritional requirement and offer them depending on their body live weight.

Dennis Kigiri,
Department of Animal Sciences, Egerton University.

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GET IT RIGHT WITH WATERMELONS

I am Aloyse from Uganda. I want to know how one can succeed in watermelon farming. I planted quarter of an acre but they are not doing well.

Watermelons are warm-season crops and they require long growing period of high temperatures. Good vegetative growth requires 18-32oC, the optimal being 18-24oC. They do better with adequate water supply.

Within a growing season, at least 400mm of moisture will be required. Soils should be well-drained and with good water-holding capacity.

The pH should be 6.0-6.8. Watermelons have been grown successfully in sandy soils, where water supply is adequate. However, the best soils are sandy loam or silt loam.

Application of nitrogenous fertilisers is based on soil type. Soils with high organic matter require 80kg N/ha, while light soils require 140kg N/Ha.

The nitrogen fertiliser should be applied and incorporated into the soil at planting time. Phosphorus and potassium applications are based on soil tests, and both should also be applied at the time of planting.

The best melons are those raised under irrigation. Most of the soils under which the melons are grown are light and require frequent watering to maintain good growth.

Depending on the environmental conditions, 450-600mm of water is required within a growing season. Water can be applied through drip or furrow irrigation.

Use of sprinkler irrigation raises the humidity within the canopy and this leads to increased disease incidence. Weeds should be controlled, especially when the melon plants are young.

Weeds offer greater competition by shading the melon plants. Weed control can be achieved by application of black plastic mulches, cultivation, and use of herbicides that are registered for use in melons.

Remember that watermelons need water in the first few weeks of growth but when they start producing fruits, if you are irrigating you should stop.

As the fruit develops, the less water it gets the better as this will increase the sugar content and sugar concentration in the fruit, making it sweeter.

When you start picking the watermelons, only chose the ripe ones because they don’t continue to ripen after picking.

Carol Mutua,
Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils, Egerton University.

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I NEED BEST FISH FEEDS

What are the best feeds for fish and which are common markets available?

Samuel

The best fish feeds are commercial pellets. The pellets are of different sizes for various growth stages of fish. There are starters, pre-grower, grower, high-protein finisher and low-protein finisher.

Some of the sellers for fish feeds are Unga Limited, Aller Aqua and Samaki Express Limited. For more details, contact me on 0716573291.

Janice Kimuli,
Agro-science Park Fish Farm, Egerton University.

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I WANT TO START KEEPING SNAILS

I am highly interested in agribusiness in both urban and rural set-ups. Lately, I’ve developed much interest in snail farming.

I have little knowledge from online sources about snails, but I don’t know where to source them and at what prices. I would also like to know about the market and groups that I can join to learn more.

Julius Odek, Nairobi

Snail farming or heliciculture is one of the emerging profitable ventures. To rear snails, you will need a permit from Kenya Wildlife Service because they are considered wild.

You should also consider the market because snail consumption is based on cultural and religious beliefs. There is a ready market for snails locally in hotels, among foreigners and abroad.

For you to supply snails in hotels and to export, you will need a certificate. You should also be ready to submit annual reports to Kenya Wildlife Service.

Snails are hermaphrodites, meaning they have both male and female sexual organs and all of them lay eggs after every three months.

You can get snails from Konokono Organic Snails (Amiyo Farms). For more information on the price, please contact them on 0721 256252 or [email protected]

Carol Mutua,
Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils, Egerton University.

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FARMING GOOSEBERRIES

Please let me know where I can get gooseberry seeds. I would also appreciate any information on gooseberries farming in Kenya.

Steve

You can get the seeds from Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) or Gooseberry Seeds Kenya, contact them on 0720466433.

Carol Mutua,
Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils, Egerton University.

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APPLE SEEDLINGS

I want to try my hand at growing apples in Migori County. How can I get seedlings?
Opiyo Oduwo

You can get apple seedlings from Wambugu Apple Farm. Their contact is 0729964458. You can also reach Oxfarm Limited on 0723662773 for the seeds.

Carol Mutua,
Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils, Egerton University.

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EUCALYPTUS VARIETIES THAT RAKE IN CASH

I would like to get some information on growing eucalyptus trees on my land in Mois Bridge. That is, the type of species, the dos and don’ts and the market dynamics.

Tr. Jen. O. Mbati

There are many species of eucalyptus, but according to Kefri, Eucalyptus grandis (Rose gum) and Eucalyptus saligna (Blue gum) are the ones which are recommended for growing in Uasin Gishu.

According to Kefri, seeds are sowed in a nursery where they take 7-14 days to germinate. When the seedlings have two leaves, they are placed into individual containers or polythene sleeves.

The seedlings should be protected from excess sunlight, wind, weeds, pests and diseases. Watering should be done twice a day preferably in the morning and evening.

Avoid overwatering. Root pruning should be done at least twice if seedlings are grown in pots. The seedlings are ready for transplanting when they are 25-35cm in height or after 4-5 months. Planting should be done at the onset of the rains.

The spacing to be used depends on the use of the tree and the agro ecological zone. In high potential areas, a spacing of 2-2.5m by 2-2.5m is adopted while in arid and semi-arid areas, a spacing of 3m by 3m is used. Make sure you scout for pests and diseases during the first two years of growth.

Harvesting time depends on the use of the tree, for fuelwood and rails from 3 years, poles and pulp from 6-8 years, for transmission poles from 8-10 years and for timber from 15-20 years. Eucalyptus grandis can be used for timber, transmission poles, construction poles, firewood, charcoal and pulpwood.

Eucalyptus saligna is widely used for poles, posts, timber, pulpwood, furniture, veneer and shelterbelts. Kenya Forest Service recommends that eucalyptus should not be planted in riparian or marshy areas, wetlands, and near a water body.

The trees should not be planted near buildings or on road reserves as the branches and stems of some species easily break off.

It is good to plant eucalyptus in areas that have been degraded by soil erosion, marginal lands, waterlogged areas (to drain the area) and areas with saline soils.

The trees also act as windbreakers on large farms. Avoid growing eucalyptus trees in areas with low rainfall as they will compete with other crops for water and also produce toxic substances (allelopathy) which will hinder the growth of other crops.

The market for eucalyptus is huge. You can check in timber yards and Kenya Power, which uses them for electricity poles.

The company is currently looking for farmers selling the trees. Eucalyptus seeds are available from Kefri, contact them on [email protected] or 0723500176.

Carol Mutua
Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils, Egerton University.

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MARKET FOR FRUIT AND TREE SEEDLINGS

I am a farmer in Turbo and I have 5,000 eucalyptus trees, 1,500 cypress, 800 passion fruits and 500 kayaba (fence) tree seedlings for sell. I am seeking market at good prices.

Newton

You have not told us the eucalyptus species you have and the type of passion fruits seedlings you grow, that is, yellow or purple.

These seedlings are usually on high demand especially during the rainy season. Kayaba is Kei apple, which is mainly used as a live fence. You can advertise your products on social media sites such as Facebook or instagram.

Carol Mutua
Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils, Egerton University

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CURING PORK FOR LONGER SHELF-LIFE

Please educate me on how to cure pork to prolong its shelf-life because I don't have a refrigerator.
Graham Girvan, Webuye

Curing is a method of preserving foods such as meat, fish and vegetables by adding salt to draw moisture out. This makes the food inhospitable for micro-organisms that cause spoilage.

In pork curing, you can coat a pork cut with a dry rub containing salt and seasonings, or wet brine where the cut is submerged in a salty seasoned brine (a high concentration solution of salt in water).

Different pork cuts are cooked differently. Cuts that are tough are slow-roasted while the less tough ones can be quickly grilled.

Similarly, in pork preservation, different cuts should be handled differently since they have various characteristics that will affect the final flavour of the preserved product.

Pork cuts that are tough and fatty can be ground and preserved in casings as sausages. The lean and tender cuts are suitable for salting and can be preserved whole.

Hind pig legs work less than other parts like the shoulder hence this meat is tender. A whole leg is cured by thoroughly salting it in a cool place.

Since this is a large meat cut, the temperatures should be appropriate, therefore, a cool place in the house should be picked for curing. Pork loin can be cured by mixing salt, sugar, black pepper, garlic, cloves and thyme to make lonzino.

Pork tenderloin is a tender meat. It is leaner than pork loin and can be cured at home as a whole cut. The pork shoulder is mostly ground into sausage since it is tough and fibrous.

Pork neck meat may be ground into sausage along with the shoulder meat. For curing, the neck is handled in a similar manner as the pork loin. Pork belly is commonly used for bacon making.

Pig jowl muscles are used very much hence this cut is tough but the curing process makes it tender. Pork ribs are best cooked immediately.

If curing is to be done, bones should be removed and the meat slow-cooked in fat. Upon cooling, the fat on top will keep oxygen out, hence protecting the meat.

When stored in a cool place, this meat can be kept for months. For recipes on the different types of cured pork cuts, please contact me at [email protected]

Faith Ndungi,
Department of Human Nutrition, Egerton University.

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I WANT TO GROW TEFF

I would like to try farming teff or quinoa grains in Bungoma since growing maize doesn’t make economic sense. I am willing to try it on five acres.

Bright Kadenge, Nairobi

Teff is an ancient staple grain crop thought to have originated from Ethiopia. It can be ground into flour, fermented or used to make injera, a sourdough type of flat bread.

Teff germinates in warm soil and seedlings are fairly drought-tolerant. You can get teff seeds: Biovision Africa Trust, P.O Box 30772 — 00100, Nairobi.

Syeunda Cyprian
Department of Dairy, Food Science and Technology,
Egerton University.

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YES, MORINGA DOES WELL IN HIGHLANDS
Does moringa grow well in highlands, in particular, Timboroa? And where can I buy the seeds?

Benjamin Kibias, Nairobi

Yes, moringa will do well in Timboroa and generally in Baringo County. You can try Kenya Forestry Seed Centre for seeds.

Contact them at [email protected] or 0723500176. You can also try Meshack on 0722369552 or Charles on 0721488915.

Carol Mutua
Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils, Egerton University.