Cabbage is one of the most popular vegetable in our meals .In Kenya, this crop is grown by small, medium and few large scale farmers. Due to its high demand particularly in urban areas, cabbage farming has become very ideal to venture.
In exploration of this vegetable, our inquisitiveness was finally fulfilled when we stepped our feet in Ndabibi. This is in the outskirts of Naivasha town in the farm of Mrs. Judith Njenga who is arguably among the best cabbage farmers in the country. She boasts of 70 acres of cabbages at different stages of growth. Every day she sells cabbages in lorries from her farm. This she recalls began in 2009 on a five acre piece of land.
“After purchasing cabbages for a long time and seeing the shortage in the market ,I decided to begin planting mine and the proceeds from these vegetables have made me get glued on my farm,” Mrs. Njenga elucidated. She has demarcated her land in portions of five acres where cabbages are growing in different stages. This enables her to sell her produce all year round.
Currently she is growing Victoria and Tauras varieties from Amiran Kenya. These varieties are high yielding and are very resistant to pests and diseases.“My seedlings are raised in seedbeds for about four weeks. Before transplanting, I harden my seedlings to prepare them to cope with field conditions,” she explained.
The fields to be planted should be well prepared to a fine tilth After 4 to 6 weeks, she transplants only the healthy seedlings to the fields. She plants the seedlings using organic manure from flock she rears in her farm. In addition, she also applies 1 to 2 handfuls of DAP per planting hole. To top dress, she uses CAN at a rate of 100kg/ha and when the leaves start folding into heads she second top dress at the rate of 200kg/ha.
“Cabbage needs plenty of water especially when they are forming heads. More water means bigger heads,” She expounded. To water her cabbages when it is not raining, she has dug a borehole and constructed several dams to store water when rains pounds.
The challenge she experiences includes pests and diseases. Caterpillars and Diamond black moth(DBM) eat their way up the main stem and leafs. To avoid soil-borne diseases, she crop rotates with maize.
Typical cabbage diseases are leaf blight, club root, damping off and stem rot. To control these diseases, she has developed a well elaborate spraying program which she follows to the latter; with the assistance of Harry Thuku an agronomist from Amiran and also by planting disease-resistant crop.
It takes about three months for the plant to be ready for harvesting. “Buyers come from all parts of the country, some give us orders in advance and thus with cabbage farming you’ll never lack market,” she confidently utters.
Mrs. Njenga has been able to influence people positively in her village. She has employed twenty three workers who assist her with daily activities in her farm. As a smile glows in her face, she reveals that she has bought a lorry and a vehicle with the cabbage proceeds.
Mrs. Njenga is planning to expand her vegetable farming by planting tomatoes on her recently constructed greenhouses.