How to grow healthy courgettes (zucchini) in Kenya

Courgettes benefits.

Courgettes are green plants with green leaves that can be eaten as vegetables. It produces fruits similar to cucumbers which can be steamed,boiled,fried or roasted depending on your preferable taste.

Courgettes can be used for subsistence purposes and can also be sold in markets for Economic purposes. The disadvantage of courgettes in Kenya is that it has low demand and lower market value.

Planting process

It is important to consider seeds and land for the planting of zucchini. Zucchini grows very well in warm areas and areas receiving medium rainfall. Excessive rainfall can cause mildew to the zucchini.

It requires fertile well-drained lights loam soil and with an average temperature of 15 to 22 degrees Celsius.

Zucchini are grown on nursery beds or planted directly on the field depending on your choice. On nursery beds, zucchini are grown in raised soil and watered daily till they attain 3-4 leaf stage then they are ready for transplanting on the field.

Planting directly

To plant zucchini directly on the field, you need to prepare the land by ploughing and harrowing until the land is completely free from weeds. An open land with direct sunlight is preferred.

Ensure the land to be planted has fine tilt to reduce hard pans which hinders the growth of zucchini.

Mix the soil evenly with farmyard manure and ensure you dig holes evenly 2centimetres deep at the spacing of 100 cm by 60 cm.

Plant 2 to 3 seeds in holes and cover them with even soil, ensure the land planted has enough moisture by irrigation when the rains are not sufficient. After emergence of seeds, thin the zucchini to one plant per hill.

Farm practices such as weeding and mulching regularly is encouraged to reduce competition of nutrients and to suppress weeds and conserve moisture respectively.

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Harvesting process

Harvesting of zucchini is done after two months when it’s fruits are 10 to 20 cm long. The harvesting can continue to the third month after planting.

Harvesting using a knife by cutting the fruits off leaving the peduncle on the fruit is preferred. Regular picking should be done to encourage fruiting.

Important farm practices tips

weeding: This is getting rid of unwanted plants that grows alongside planted crops and compete with them for nutrients and water, they also harbour pest and diseases which might be harmful to plants and also reducing the yields.

Nutrition: nutrients helps plants in good growth and high yields there are various fertilizers types that can be added to plants, they include the basal,foliar through the macro and micro nutrient elements

Basal fertilizers; these are available in Argostores countrywide they include DAP,CAN,NPK and UREA.

Manure; these are nutrition added to soil to increase nutrients they include animal droppings and decomposed Waste from grass and plant waste.

sheep goats and cows waste can be dried to make manure then added to soil to add nutrition decomposed waste can also be added to the soil to provide maximum nutrition to plants.

manure is widely used and available in Kenya with cheap price.

Irrigation:this is a common practice by farmers especially in areas that receive minimum or no rainfall at all. It has proved to be an effective method in crop production especially in semi-arid areas like Perkerra irrigation scheme in Marigat area Kenya. High-yielding crops are produced in this area with irrigation practice.

Types of irrigation method include.

  • Drip irrigation
  • Canal irrigation
  • Overhead irrigation

Mulching: this is a practice of adding materials like grass Waste or husks on nursery beds or on top of root seedlings covered by soil after planting.

Mulching helps to conserve moisture in the soil as it reduces evaporation of water from the soil, mulching helps to suppress weeds also. When mulching is done soil gets exposed to minimal sunlight hence discourages the growth of unwanted plants called weeds.

This practice is effective on nursery beds and newly transplanted crops.

Pruning: some plants develop Overgrown branches, buds and also yellow or withered leaves, it is important to pluck off these leaves and branches to make a clean plantation and also to reduce infection to other leaves which may occur with infected or withered leaves.

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