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Feedback: Melon farming do’s and don’ts

Wednesday February 6 2019

When growing watermelon, the crop is propagated by seeds, directly planted in the field or raised in the nursery before transplanting.

When growing watermelon, the crop is propagated by seeds, directly planted in the field or raised in the nursery before transplanting. PHOTO | WACHIRA MWANGI | NMG 

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Can I grow watermelons in Nanyuki?

Wanjiru Gachanja

Watermelon is a warm season crop which cannot do well in cold places. However, in a greenhouse it can possibly grow. Below is an environmental guide for watermelon.

Ecological requirements

It grows at altitudes of up to 1,500m above sea level. It does well in lowland areas such as coastal regions, lowland of eastern and parts of the lake basin.


They grow best under hot temperatures of between 22 and 28oC. Stagnation of growth occurs at temperatures less than 15oC. Suited in low to medium rainfall areas with additional irrigation and optimum rainfall is 600mm and 400mm is considered minimum.

Excessive humidity favours leaf diseases and also affects flowering. They grow best on well-drained and slightly acidic sandy loam soils and slow development is exhibited in heavy clay soil, and fruit size and quality are usually inferior.

Watermelon is fairly tolerant to soil pH as low as 5.5, however, a slightly acidic soil with pH of 6.0 to 6.5 is ideal.


Watermelon is propagated by seeds, directly planted in the field or raised in the nursery before transplanting. The seed rate is about 3kg/ha and seeds germinate best when the soil is very warm (25- 32°C) and the air is almost hot (28 to 33°C), as it is the case at the end of the dry season.

Do a soil test to know which fertiliser to use when planting or during top dress.

Sowing seeds

If direct seeding, seeds should be sowed after the last frosts and when the soil has warmed to at least 18.4°C. Allow 90—120cm (3—4 ft) between seeds in a row and 150—180cm (~5—6ft) between rows.

Plant two seeds per hill, placing them 3 to 4cm (1.5 inches) deep into the soil. Water the hills thoroughly if there is no rain and in nursery propagation transplant, when the seedlings develop first set of true leaves.

Hardening should commence in 7-10 days before planting. Seeds should germinate in 3—10 days depending on the soil temperature.


After planting, water regularly with manure or fertiliser to provide additional nutrients. Watermelons need sufficient moisture; after planting to allow fast and even emergence and at early bloom to prevent poor fruit set and misshapen fruit and during fruit development to ensure good melon size.

Do not apply too much water, avoid waterlogging, and minimise wetting of the bed tops. Heavy irrigation or rainfall may also result in fruit splitting.

Peter Caleb Otieno,
Department of Crops Horticulture, and Soils, Egerton University.



I am Dennis Mutembei, a Bachelor of Food Technology and Quality Assurance student at Technical University of Mombasa.

I am interested in making a preserve from tamarillo as a research project. What are the other ingredients required and outline the procedure and equipment needed for the processing.

Also, advise on the food safety certification requirements and opportunities to sustain the project as a food security measure.

The recipe is quite long for this space. It would make more sense if it was a stand-alone article. Please get in touch with me on email at [email protected] and I will mail it to you.

As far as food safety is concerned, you must get Kenya Bureau of Standards certification and public health department approval if you are making food for public consumption.

Kevine Otieno,
Department of Dairy, Food Science and Technology.



I am Barasa Alloys from Busia and I am interested in knowing more about cricket farming. Link me to Charles Odira, a cricket farmer from Nyamasaria, Kisumu County.

Get in touch with Charles Odira via mobile phone on 0721280907.

Kevine Otieno, Department of Dairy, Food Science & Technology.



I would like to get in touch with the people who are selling cactus wine and juice.
Winnie Dah

Get in touch with the Laikipia Permaculture Centre through on P.O. Box 566-10400, Nanyuki, Kenya. Telephone: 0727845123/0702095644/0726787085/0736053985.
E-Mail: [email protected]

Kevine Otieno, Department of Dairy, Food Science & Technology.



I am interested in going into agribusiness. Our targets are passion fruits, pawpaws and mushrooms. I have done a little research on each of them, however, I don’t have the know-how on how, where and what to start with.

Do you have a professional I could get in touch with to take me through the process?

Rahul Dodhia

All the enterprises that you have mentioned are noble and can fetch good returns once a proper plan is put in place.

You need a proper agribusiness plan with a model that will help you identify the market, map all the costs associated with this venture and project revenues that will come as a result of this initiative.

The market is there but this has to be properly scrutinised to avoid pushing products into the market instead of consuming coming for them.

Kindly send an email to [email protected] for professional guidance on how to write a business plan, including how well we can help you transform your ideas into a viable enterprise.

Dickson Otieno, Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Agriculture and Agribusiness Management (CESAAM), Egerton University.



We are a registered company with a big vision in agribusiness service provision, crop and livestock production, value addition and marketing.

We have access to about 2,000 acres which we expect to have a title under land adjudication process and registration that is ongoing.

We had hydrological survey done which positively found a five sweet water underground rivers at 200-metre depth, which requires about Sh2 million to tap the water.

We envisaged a great demand for farm produce, so we opened a supply shop for that purpose. It’s now operational.

We got another land under lease arrangement about 50,000 acres which borders a permanent river. On that land we saw a real potential only if we can get proper funding.

We are requesting for information on proper 500-acre land use plan for most high value short-term and perennials crops that can do best in Kilifi County under irrigation.

Also, advise on livestock production. Identify specific high value crops and livestock that have highest yields under irrigation.

Agro East Africa Limited

Raymond Kithi

For proper 500-acre land use, a concrete professional agribusiness plan is required. This is due to the fact that the kind of investment here is huge and some mistakes can be very costly.

All the aspects mentioned such as market research strategy, exports and contract farming can be part of this plan. The farm also requires a comprehensive strategic plan that will be developed with insight from your team and relevant stakeholders.

With this kind of investment, a baseline survey will be necessary to help you establish approaches to give various issues that can be addressed by the study.

As agribusiness specialists, we are in a position to help or guide you through this process. Kindly send me an email on [email protected] for further engagement.

Dickson Otieno
Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Agriculture and Agribusiness Management (CESAAM)


Ornamental birds farmer

Kindly share the contact of someone who sells vulturine guinea fowls and East African Cranes.
Salim Henry

EDITOR: Talk to Gladys Nduati of Goshen Bird Farm on 0721951944 or 0718303374.

Bullet chilli grower

I am an upcoming farmer and an ardent reader of Seeds of Gold. I liked the story on Gilbert Mutegi, who exports bullet chilli. Kindly share his contact so that I can talk to him.
Michael Kimani

EDITOR: Mutegi is available on 0706737513. You can also talk to agronomist Paul Rangenga on 0733452775.

Flower exporter

I got excited by Lilly Nduku’s flower farm. I have been wondering how I could grow summer flowers for long. I believe she can help me. I need her contact.

EDITOR: Mwanzia is available on 0722514309.