Growing Garlic-(Kitunguu Saumu)
Farmers who have already taken up growing of garlic have had good returns in a short time. Done under the required conditions the crop can reach a good harvest. For a farmer planning on to grow this crop should find it necessary to first do an intensive research on how to produce garlic and achieve a high yield on their farm.
The good thing with farming garlic is that it can either be done on a small scale or large scale. Either way it is profitable with the proper management carried out throughout the growing period. Garlic is of great importance not only economically but also catering for other health issues as it contains medicinal properties. As a medicinal plant it can be used by diabetic patients to manage the disease, HIV and AIDs patients with complications and can also be used to curb colds, coughs and sore throats.
High organic matter best to grow garlic
Garlic farming can be done in most of the Kenyan soils as long as it is well drained but particularly farmers should avoid the much clay soil as it prevents enlarging of the bulbs. The crop requires a pH of 5.5-6.8.
Before planting garlic seeds a farmer should ensure they acquire certified seeds which are free from diseases and whose cloves have matured fully.
The ecological requirements for growing garlic includes;
- Seeds are suited for an altitude of 500 m- 2000m above sea level
- High temperatures of not more than 30°C enhances better bulb formation. Though a farmer should note that extreme temperatures are not good for garlic growing as it leads to yield reduction.
- It requires temperatures ranging from 12°C-24°C
- Cooler temperatures in the early stages are necessary as it enhances and favors vegetative growth.
- Moisture requirement is actually high in the stages of the plant development after planting. Again a farmer should note carefully that excess rainfall and irrigation discourages a high yield. It inhibits proper bulb formation.
For proper development of healthy plants a farmer is to consider application of organic manure on their farms.Farmyard manure rich in organic matter is applied on the field before ploughing is done to ensure proper mixing with the soil. Ploughing is done deeply. After ploughing is done harrowing is done to a fine tilth. Deep ploughing ensures proper root development and facilitates better bulb formation. Tilling of the land is also done earlier to kill pathogens and perennial weeds preventing their re-emergence.
Planting of garlic is pretty easy as a farmer is to only identify the best mature cloves and separate them from each other. The spacing required is of 30cm between rows and 15-20cm between plants. Garlic seeds are sowed at a depth of 25cm.
The field management practices mostly required are weed control to prevent competition of nutrients, water and light to enhance high yield production. Infected plants are uprooted and burnt to prevent infecting other crops- rogueing. For pest control use of chemical, copper oxydchloride is applied as it is acceptable in organic farming.
Harvesting time can be tracked by observing the growing-months about 4-6 months or by checking when the leaves have withered. The garlic should not be harvested too early or late either as it affects their quality. The produce is stored in a well-ventilated dry room.
For the Kenyan farmers to get bountiful yields by growing garlic they need to fully understand the local varieties, suitable soils and viable environments where the plant can thrive. Notably farmers should grasp that garlic does not do well in water-logged soils.
Kenyan farmers must dare to venture in smart farming and practice agri-business. Learning how garlic is grown to gain high yields is one of the area a farmer should concentrate before getting to work.