Feedback: Follow these steps to harvest the best cabbages in town

Tuesday November 28 2017

Cabbage can be ready for harvesting from 55 days after transplanting for early cultivar and up to 130 days for late cultivars.

Cabbage can be ready for harvesting from 55 days after transplanting for early cultivar and up to 130 days for late cultivars. FILE | NMG 

By SEEDS OF GOLD EXPERTS
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TEACH ME HOW TO PLANT CABBAGES

I want to plant cabbages in Sotik. Which is the best variety?

Also teach me the crop’s management, fertiliser use, spraying from nursery to harvesting. Again, is it fine if I plant now or I will be affected by the dry spell?

Carolyne

There are many cabbage varieties to choose from, including Copenhagen market, Sugar loaf, Gloria F1 hybrid, Golden Acre and Prize drumhead.

However, Gloria F1 and Copenhagen market are most popular in Kenya.

Varieties with small to medium heads are good for fresh market and those with big heads are suitable for supplying to institutions.

Propagation

Cabbage is propagated through seeds which are sown in the nursery bed and later transplanted after 3-4 weeks to rows 60-75cm apart and 45-60cm within the rows.

Wider spacing (75x60cm) is usually adopted for late maturing cultivars (up to 130 days) and closer spacing (60x45cm) for early maturing ones (up to 55 days).

Head size can be regulated by plant density. Before transplanting, water nursery bed thoroughly 3-4 hours in advance to minimise damage during lifting of seedlings.

Preferable, remove seedlings separately, never pull as this may damage feeding roots.

Fertilisation

Cabbage is a heavy feeder of N and K. Organic matter and P and K fertilisers should be applied before transplanting and top dress with N fertilisers after about four weeks from transplanting and three weeks thereafter.

Rates are 5-10g/plant (185-370kg/ha) of CAN and 200kg/ha DSP.

Cabbage benefits from heavy doses of well-decomposed organic manure but there is need for balanced application of NPK.

Excess N application alone results in loose puffy heads which do not store well.

Weed control

Cabbage is shallow-rooted and care should be taken not to damage roots in the field as this would encourage entry of fungi and bacteria.

Cabbage is also a poor competitor of weeds thus it should be protected. Avoid excessive weeding. This may lower yields due to excessive water loss through evapotranspiration and root damage.

Mulching may be beneficial in weed control, among other advantages.

Irrigation

Irrigation should be done whenever necessary. It is important to note that cabbage is relatively shallow-rooted, thus, may need regular watering if rainfall is not adequate.

Critical water requirement stage for cabbage is at head formation.

Harvesting

Cabbage can be ready for harvesting from 55 days after transplanting for early cultivar and up to 130 days for late cultivars.

During harvesting, cut the head with some 2-3 shell leaves for protection during transportation.

Over mature heads are more prone to split open, especially if plants were subjected to moisture fluctuations prior to harvesting.

You can plant now and during the dry season you irrigate.

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

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POTATO SEEDS
Which is the nearest place to Meru I can get certified potato seeds?
Jediel Muthuri

An expert displays potato seeds in a farm in Kuresoi.

An expert displays potato seeds in a farm in Kuresoi. FILE | NMG

You can get certified potato seeds from Kisima Farm in Meru. Contact them on 06241039.

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

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WHERE TO FIND SAFFRON SEEDS
I am inquiring about a spice named Saffron. Kindly tell me where I can get the seeds.
Michael Wachira

You can get saffron seeds or bulbs from Seeds for Africa. Please contact them through 0212011118 or email [email protected]

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

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MY SUKUMA WIKI PLANTS ARE CRACKING
My sukuma wiki stems grown in a greenhouse in Kisumu are cracking. What could be the problem and how do I correct that?
Joshua Oigo

Sukuma wiki (collard greens) is a cool season crop and therefore requires cool conditions for growth. Try opening the vents of the greenhouse to allow in cool air.

Cracking of the stems may also be due to irregular watering or giving the kales a lot of water after staying for a long period without.

Sukuma wiki is a cool season crop and therefore requires cool conditions for growth.

Sukuma wiki is a cool season crop and therefore requires cool conditions for growth. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Make sure you water the vegetables regularly.
Carol Mutua,
Department of Crops, Horticulture, and Soils, Egerton University.

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BABY MARROW SEEDS
Where can I get quality baby marrow [courgettes] seeds?
Duncan

You can get courgette seeds from Kenya Seed Company. Please contact them on 0722205144 or 0726144859 or [email protected]

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

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WHERE CAN I BUY A WATER-PUMP

Many years ago, I had a small solar water pump. This only pumped water when the sun was shining.

I have tried to find a pump in Mombasa with no success. ?Do you have any contacts that stock this sort of machines? I have tried Davis and Shirtliff but theirs is too complicated with inverters and batteries.

T.M. Hopking

Most water pumps work with alternating current (ac) from main electricity.

Solar panels produce direct current (dc) and so a solar water pump will incorporate an inverter whose work is to convert dc produced by the solar panels to alternating current used by the pump.

A battery is needed to store the energy for use when there is no sunshine. In direct current pumps, the electrical energy from the solar panel is controlled, tuned and directed by an inbuilt controller.

A solar water pump does not necessarily require batteries. One solution is to run solar water pumps directly from the solar panels during the day.

Instead of storing the electricity in batteries, the water is instead stored in water tanks or ponds and be used any time required.

First Lady, Margaret Kenyatta joins community members in working a water pump.

First Lady, Margaret Kenyatta joins community members in working a water pump. Most water pumps work with alternating current (ac) from main electricity. FILE | NMG

For?night time water pumping, batteries will be useful to power the water pump system with the electricity produced by the solar panels. Some dealers of solar panels in Kenya, besides Davis and Shirtliff include:

a) Chloride Exide Kenya Ltd
Enterprise Road, Exsan House, Nairobi, Kenya.?0723369924.
b) Dreampower Ricciardi SRL Ltd
Langata Road. 254 20 251 6254.
c) Go Solar Systems Ltd. South Gate Centre Mukoma Road. 074231 00200.
d) Ofgen. Mai Mahiu Road, Nairobi. 0717392181.
e) Suntech Power Limited. Industrial Area. 0715208282
f) Telesales Solar. Bruce House. 2542213143/336027
g) Center for Alternative Technologies, Nairobi. 254208000174/5/6,

Prof Daudi M. Nyaanga and Abich O. Otieno, Department of Agricultural Engineering, Egerton University.