Friday, 24 February 2012

Coriander gardening (Chinese parsley / Dania) in Kenya

Coriander gardening is a popular economic activity in Kenya and the plant has small leaves used as a fresh herb. Special Features of this plant are white Flowers, Attractive spicy leaves, pungent seeds, Pleasant fragrance, Attracts Birds, Attracts Butterflies, Deer Resistant and Easy gardening. Coriander gardening is also widely adopted in Africa trading the produce in the local urban markets for home consumption as a fresh herb. The tender foliage is used to season and flavor curries while its seeds are processed into mixed spices and curry powder. Coriander gardening is easy and the herb gives high returns on investment, in addition to taking a short time to mature. A small metres long and garden 35  1metre wide can give total revenue of KS h 15,000 within 45 days. Coriander gardening requirements are Soil, seeds, Water, Sun, knife, garden tools. This herb prefers mild warm to cool weather and well drained alluvial or light sandy loam soils, rich in organic matter. They perform well directly from seeds, as transplanting causes early flowering, and the seed rate is 15-25kg per hectare. 

The seeds are planted in drills 30cm apart for production of fresh herb and 50cm apart for coriander seeds production , and a sowing depth of 2.5-3.5cm.Emergence occurs about 10 days after sowing and thinning is recommended when plants are 5-7cm high to 10-15cm within the rows. Regular watering is required as the crop responds well to even distribution of moisture over the growing season particularly for production of green herb.Coriander responds well to application of well decomposed organic manure at a rate of 10 tons per hectare (one medium sized bucket per square metre) or NPK fertilizers at a rate of 100 kg per hectare. Coriander gardening faces few pest and diseases challenges and the major problems are fusarium wilt, powdery mildew and stem rot. These can be controlled mainly through seed dressing, field hygiene, crop rotation and use of disease free seeds. Spraying with broad-spectrum fungicides may be done only when necessary. Maturity takes place within 1months for the herb and 3 months for the seed. 4-5 cuts can be made during the growing season for green herb, giving an output of 7-10 tons per ha.

 If the aim of coriander gardening is to produce leaves the plants should be at least 10-15cm tall at harvesting time. Harvest the largest herbs first which should be cut to encourage growth of the smaller herbs for later harvesting. If the gardening targets seeds production, it could take about three months for the crop to be ready. When the flowers have dried, cut down the stems, then harvest and pile up the crop for a few days in the field to further ripen and dry before threshing. When the crop is grown to produce seeds the output is about1.2-1.7tons per Hectare depending on the variety. Coriander is ground at the point of use or at the retail market to avoid loss of volatile oils. Farmers  for more