Among all the spices, herbs, and vegetables available. Garlic holds a very high place and its benefits are boundless.
Not only in the kitchen but as a medicinal and financial asset. In the culinary department garlic is a magic ingredient. Raising your meal taste from 0 to 10 by including it.
On the medicinal front, the evidence goes from ancient to modern times. The benefits of garlic in the human body are well known. Not only by our ancestors who prescribed it to heal more than one illness. Even in modern medicine, garlic continues to infuse its benefits.
Garlic has been the subject of numerous scientific studies. The results show that garlic contains compounds that help in treating ailments. Whether we eat it raw or include it in our diets, garlic is beneficial to our health. All of us need garlic as a basic ingredient in our diets.
Today we will discuss garlic farming and how it has helped Kenyan farmers.
Garlic (Allium sativum) belonging to the onion family is a vegetable. There are more than 700 species under the garlic family. In Kenya the grown garlic varieties include:
1. Hard neck
2. Soft neck
Under the mentioned varieties 9 sub-varieties will perform differently under specific climatic conditions.
Research the best climatic conditions that support your type of garlic. Those regions that experience altitudes of 500 meters above sea level have high garlic yields.
High temperatures of 30 degrees centigrade promote bulb development. In the early stages of growth, a cool temperature of 15 degrees centigrade aids growth.
Plant your garlic in well-drained soils with a pH. range of 6.0 – 7.5. Black soils are the most preferred soils for garlic farming.
Clay soil is not suitable, does not allow for bulb development, and is easily waterlogged.
Large clove seeds perform better than small-sized seeds. Thus, important to put this into consideration when making your buy.
Audit the quality of the seed clove to avoid purchasing ones with diseases or of low quality. Make your buy from reputable seed companies in your region. Buy your seeds from Kenya Seed Company.
Follow the spacing direction to achieve large bulbs that influence the market price. Become intentional when planting to ensure you achieve high-quality yields.
Like every other plant, garlic is prone to weeds that compete for soil nutrients. Use mulch to prevent weeds from growing. Once the plants are passed the mulching stage.
Hand weeding is recommended to avoid damage to the flowers. The garlic plant is susceptible to weeds and pests during the flowering stage. Manage your plants during this time well enough to keep thrips and fog away.
Diseases that affect the garlic plant are common to both onions and tomatoes. Research and learn about the tomato and onion plants well. This way you become knowledgeable on the best way to treat your garlic plant.
The garlic plant takes 4 – 6 months to maturity. As earlier mentioned, there are different types of garlic. Each is influenced by the environment it’s planted.
Track your plants well enough to be aware of when they are mature for harvesting. Signs of maturity include drying off of foliage which turns from bright green color to brown. Never assume the harvest time.
Remember, mature bulbs ready for harvesting need to be uprooted otherwise growth continues. When harvesting garlic, bundle the plants in groups of five or ten this makes it easy for assembly.
After harvesting is complete place your bulbs in a ventilated place for 15 – 20 days for drying to take place. Store your produce by cutting off foliage and roots from the bulbs.
Remove the outer cover without exposing the bulbs together with excess soil. How you store your bulbs will determine their shelf life. Produce for sale the moisture content should be below 70 percent.
Maintain temperature between 0 -4 degrees to avoid rotting. Planting bulbs stored at room temperature, maintaining humidity levels of 60 -70 percent. Note temperatures above 4 degrees will stimulate sprouting. Rotting if moisture levels are above 70 percent.
The current unit price for garlic is 1 kilogram at Ksh; 300. Good pricing for anyone intending to begin garlic farming.
Garlic demand continues to increase both locally and in the international markets. The local markets are a good starting point before you can venture into the export business.
Conduct a demand-supply survey before you can begin your garlic farming business. Your answer to this question will determine your farming strategy. Garlic is a healthy ingredient you will always have the market to sell your product.
Have an open mind when venturing into farming and enjoy it!