Thursday, 7 June 2012
02:42 Margaret Gitau
Garlic herb is a relative of bulb onions .One acre with a plant population of 74995 at the price of Ksh 15 per piece will earn a gross revenue of ksh 1,124,925.The crop has a good and growing market in Kenya, due to it's culinary and medicinal value. This crop has pungent taste and smell and it’s used for flavouring food particularly soups, meat and fish. This medicinal plant has been used successfully for pimple and boils removal from the skin, relief of rheumatism, colds, coughs and sore throats, management of diabetes and HIV and AIDS complications. Garlic herb growing is suited for medium to high altitudes of 500-2000M. High temperatures of 30ºC are necessary for optimum bulb development. Cooler temperatures in the early stages are required as they favour vegetative growth required for plant establishment. Optimum temperatures for growing the crop are 12-24ºC. Excess rainfall and humidity are detrimental to the plant’s vegetative growth and bulb formation. Growing of garlic herb is carried out in low rainfall areas where irrigation can be used in the early stages when water requirement is highest.
The plant requires well drained fertile soils. Avoid clay soils as they may result in malformed bulbs. Soil Ph should be 5.5-6.8.flavour development of garlic herb is best in sunny weather. Deep land preparation is required to ensure adequate rooting depth. Individual cloves are used for growing of garlic herb which is carried out vegetatively. Bulbs for sowing from the previous crop should be stored at 10ºC and a relative humidity of 50-65%. Stored bulbs should be fumigated if mites are present and inspected periodically for storage rots. Garlic herb growing is carried out on raised seed beds, on ridges at a spacing of 30cm between rows and 15-20cm between plants, giving a plant population of 150,000-200,000 per hectare. The cloves should be sown 2.5cm deep in well firmed soil. The seed clove requirement is 500-700kg/ha.The crop responds well to organic manure and 20tons/ha can be ploughed into the soil before planting.
Fertilizer requirements for growing the crop vary with soil fertility .The standard fertilizer rate of application is NPK is 150:55:40kg/ha applied as 1/3N:1P:1/5K. N and K topdressing should be applied 6-8 weeks after sowing and final N application at the beginning of bulb formation. The most common pests and diseases in growing garlic herb include purple blotch, downy mildew, rust, bulb rot, nematodes and onion thrips. Control measures include long crop rotations (4 years), Field hygiene, good drainage, removal and destruction of infected and crop debris, spraying suitable insecticides and fungicides. The crop matures 6-8 months after sowing, when leaf tops turn yellow or brown, then the leaves bend over and dries out. Dig the bulbs carefully to avoid damage. Light and sprouting bulbs should be discarded. Cure the bulbs in open air under shade for 8-10 days until the plants are thoroughly dry. Market or store the garlic herb bulbs. Dry storage of the bulbs for two months is sufficient to break dormancy. The length of crop growing period before garlic herb plants starts bulb formation determines yields which ranges between 12-15 tons/ha-more.Read also