In Summary
  • For optimum production, spinach requires regular water supply throughout the entire growing season as it is shallow-rooted. It is, therefore, advisable to irrigate during the dry season.
  • Unless proper precautions are followed, pig, dog and cat manure can be harmful to human health.
  • Cat manure, should always be handled with great care, and not at all by pregnant women and should never be used in food gardens.
  • Investing in livestock for business requires good planning and professional guidance. Having a good heifer requires that you manage well a promising calf in all aspects.

MANAGING SPINACH

I am growing spinach commercially. My first harvest was quite impressive and I want to maintain those standards. What routine management practices should I carry on my spinach?

Additionally, please advise on the expected harvesting period for the Fordhook Giant variety if well-managed.

Andrew

Spinach produces best in well-fertilised soils, mulched at planting. You can apply compost manure followed by a top-dressing fertiliser like CAN at a rate of one spoonful per plant.

For optimum production, spinach requires regular water supply throughout the entire growing season as it is shallow-rooted. It is, therefore, advisable to irrigate during the dry season.

Hand weeding is recommended to prevent root injury. Diseases and pests can be controlled by application of the appropriate chemicals like fungicides and insecticides.

A vegetable farmer picks spinach.

A vegetable farmer picks spinach for customers in Kamuchuni village, Mukurweini. For optimum production, spinach requires regular water supply throughout the entire growing season as it is shallow-rooted. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP.

Fordhook Giant matures within 50-60 days after planting and harvesting can start from 35 to 100 days.

Carol Mutua, Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils, Egerton University.

****
WHY YOU SHOULD AVOID PIG, CAT AND DOG MANURE

On June 11, Dr Jane N. Maina advised farmers not to use pig waste as manure due to parasites that survive the decomposing process and are passed on to humans and soil. What would be the effect if the waste is used on other crops like tea, coffee and trees?

George M. Mburu, Thika

Unless proper precautions are followed, pig, dog and cat manure can be harmful to human health. The composting process that can kill organisms harmful to man requires high temperatures and special conditions commonly not attained in Kenya and most developing countries.

The primary hazard present in pig and dog manure is parasites such as roundworms and tapeworms that can be passed on to man. Some resistant bacteria such as listeria and staphylococcus found in these animals, particularly the pig, may also survive the composting process and have been responsible for disease outbreaks in agricultural and livestock workers.

A female pig with her young ones.

A female pig with her young ones. PHOTO | SILAS OUNDO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The risk involved in manure from these animals is not worthy the use in any crops that will be tendered by man. Cat feaces poses the greatest threat to human health because they may transmit Toxoplasmosis, a disease that is particularly hazardous for pregnant women, causing serious damage to the central nervous system (the brain) of an unborn child, resulting in foetal blindness, brain damage leading to retardation and other problems.

The adult parasite involved in this disease is carried only by cats, but the eggs, which are resistant to most environmental conditions, shed in the manure can infect humans, pigs, cows and other mammals.

The eggs remain viable in the soil for as long as 18 months, and the illness can be acquired through contact with infected cat manure or by ingesting the undercooked meat of an animal that has obtained the infection through grazing on pasture contaminated by cat faeces.

Therefore, cat manure, should always be handled with great care, and not at all by pregnant women and should never be used in food gardens.

For this reason, it is not advisable to use cat manure at all.

Dr Jane N. Maina, Veterinarian, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery, Egerton University.

****

GINGER FARMING
I am Michael from Chuka. Please advise me on ginger farming based on the following:
a) The best variety for the area.

b) The period it will take to mature.

c) What to do to attain the tangy taste (it’s a key consideration by buyers)?

d) Where I can get the sets for planting?

Ginger is propagated from rhizomes that can be obtained from fresh produce market. The three common cultivars of ginger grown in Kenya are Kenyan, Indian and Jamaican.

The Jamaican cultivar is considered superior since it has white colour and, thus, has high market demand. Ginger does well in fertile well-drained loam soil, and, thus, will do well in the area.

The crop takes seven to nine months to mature from the time of planting. To obtain the tangy taste, the crop should be harvested when the crop is fully mature and the leaves have started turning yellow.

Sylvans Ochola, Department of Crops, Horticulture, and Soils, Egerton University.

****

I NEED A TRACTOR TRACKING DEVICE

Is it possible to have a tracking device on my tractor? How can I know the acreage measured in a way that I am not lied to by the tractor driver?

Lorna Were

Yes, it is possible to have a tracking device on your tractor. Contact 0727355444 or simply email info@galileogps.co.ke

Prof Daudi Nyaanga, Faculty of Engineering, Egerton University.

Page 1 of 2