News and knowhow for farmers

Farmer’s friend: getting top yields for cabbage

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By George Munene

Cabbages have long been a favourite among farmers due to their relatively low cost of production and rapid maturation, at just three months.

However, with food supply chains now far more local as a result of the COVID-19 travel restrictions, prices are varying sharply between regions, seeing farmers venture into crops that were previously coming from other regions.

For those seeking to begin in cabbages, or just to raise their yields, we take a deep dive into the ideal farming methods, from nursery to farm:


Cabbage seedling should stay here 4-5 weeks. With 4 weeks being the sweet spot you want to carry out transplanting.

⦁ Sift the soil you’ll use–ensure it has no lumps, pebbles or sticks as they obstruct seedling growth.

⦁ Mix this soil in with manure,the manure must be more than the soil.

⦁ Sunbake this mixture to kill off pests or drench it using pesticides

⦁ Mix in sand into the seedlings as you sow, cabbage seedlings are very small and this makes it possible to pick them out.

⦁ Plant the seedling at a maximum 5 millimeter depth.The soils used must again be very light to allow the roots easily go under.

⦁ Shade your seedlings to avoid excessive direct sunlight and waterThe shade also avoids your seedlings breaking if they are directly rained on

⦁ Water twice a week, less if the season is colder.Use a perforated hand held can–it empties put rather pouring avoiding the force of water from a pipe or sprinkler that can injure the still young stems and leaves

⦁ As weeds emerge, root them out manuallyThis should be done regularly and while they are still nascent to avoid uprooting them with the seedlings

⦁ Spray your nursery bed weekly for pests or whenever you inspect for and find pests⦁ Apply foliar feed to the sellings twice over their 4 week stay in the nursery

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Seedlings should be transferred in the evening when the sun is less biting to enable them best absorb the transplanting shock and remain supple.

⦁ Only remove the seedling number you’ll be able to entirely transplant for the day

⦁ Ensure they are adequately watered before transplanting

⦁ Have the nursery near as is possible to the land you’ll be transferring them to

⦁ Carry the seedling in bits, ensuring you scoop them out in lumps, do not pluck them out

In the Shamba

⦁ The area you are transplanting your cabbages to should have been well weeded out

⦁ For large variety cabbages such as the Queen and Michelle F1 you’ll need about 60 cm distance between holes. Smaller cabbages such as Gloria F1 need just 45cm between themAdequate spacing allows for proper canopy formation and gives the farmer space needed to tend to their crop

⦁ The holes dug for transplanting should be allowed to ‘warm up’ for a few days to rid them of pests and allow for air permeation

⦁ Use old and dried manure–this will have killed off pest such nematodes, grasshoppers and wormsYou can drench it out to be sure that pests that are vectors for disease are killed off. You will need to leave drenched manure for 3-4 days to avoid injuring the transplanting seedlings2 handfuls of manure will be adequate and  help keep fertiliser use at a minimum

⦁ Use a soda bottle top/ teaspoon of fertiliser for every hole

⦁ Water generously before introducing translated seedlings to introduce seedling to an environment as similar to the one they were used to in the nursery

⦁ You can use a root stimulant 4-5 after sowing–they contain hormones that encourage the young roots to feed

⦁ 10-14 days spray your crop with foliar feed–repeat this at least every fortnight

⦁ Poke the soil around the cabbage–if the stick comes out muddy, do not water. Watering is preferable in the evening at about 5-5:30 when the soil is very hot or very early in the morning.Water at the base and don’t flood the crop; waterlogging injures the stock, shocks the roots and hinders them from taking up nutrients.It is preferable the water be adequate but not too much.

Check that the water sinks when watered–this shows that the area around the crop is permeable and well aerated.

If under drip irrigation, water for 45 minutes.

*Very cold water sprayed directly onto leaves causes cold burns. To avoid this use a drip system or water directly onto the base of the crop.

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1 Month

⦁ First top dressing with CAN fertiliser (bottletop) as you weed

⦁ Continue with the every two week foliar+pesticide mix spraying 

⦁ Troop to the shamba to find out if whether they’re any damages to crops or pests affecting your crop

2 Month

⦁ 2nd CAN and last dressing and weeding

⦁ Spray your last foliar feedExcessive foliar causes the leaves to be extremely large and won’t properly fold back into the cabbage.

⦁ Even more water is needed at this stage as cabbage leaves begin folding

⦁ Scout your crop, lifting the still succulent leaves gently to avoid breakage. As the cabbages begin to fold in,ensure they’re no pests on the leaf surface as they’ll be harboured within the cabbage, making it impossible to reach even with pesticides.

⦁ Look out for any worms,caterpillars and sprayThe second to third months are the watching period as you wait for the cabbage to fully mature and reach out to prospective buyers.

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