Cabbage planting has various benefits some of which include an income to both the farmers and vendors, they are rich in vitamin C which helps with boosting people’s immunity, they are used as sauce for food and they help in digestion. Cabbages have a high and ready market across the country and the price depends on the season, availability and where you are buying from. A normal small cabbage goes for shs1000 to shs1500 during the good season and when they are scarce one can easily go for shs3000.
Cabbage Varieties in Uganda
The Chinese cabbage
The mini cabbages
Soil testing is supposed to be done before cabbage planting to ensure that the soil does not have any anti bodies that might cause harm to the plant cabbages. Soil testing should be done regularly at least 6 months before planting takes place and make sure that the soil PH of 6 to 7 because this is the recommended PH for the growth of cabbages. In order for cabbages to grow well, you need to have well aerated soil with about 20cm deep. The soils should be water logged and if possible plant them in soil that has a little bit of clay in it.
After testing the soil, the next step is planting the cabbage seeds. Cabbages are first grown in a nursery bed with enough spacing between the plant holes to ensure equal sharing of the soil nutrients which leads to proper germination. While in the nursery bed, the cabbage seeds will start sprouting after 4 to 10 days but you need to water the seeds regularly. After seven weeks in the nursery, the seedlings are transplanted to the main garden either in the morning or evening when the heat from the sun is bearable.
The seeds in the seedbed should be 15cm apart in rows and about 2cm deep in the soil and you need to keep watering them until they germinate after 4 to 7 days. Transplanting is done after the seedlings grow to a height of 8cm and they should be hardened before the transplant. Make sure you mulch the garden in order to keep the soil most.
Cabbages do not grow well during the dry season and in areas experiencing a hot temperature but if you are planning on planting in such an area, make sure that you have a very good and proper irrigation system to keep the cabbages well hydrated. Spacing of cabbages in a garden depends on their size that is if the cabbages are of a large size, the spacing should be about 70cm by 70cm and for the smaller ones the spacing should be about 5ocm by 50cm. you should however note that cabbages do not grow well when planted with other crops like garlic, maize, straw berries and eggplants. These cause a stunted growth of the cabbages and therefore you should avoid planting them next to each other.
Cabbage Diseases & Pests
Diseases that normally affect cabbages include black rot, wire stem, tip burns, Downey mildew, root rot which prevents the plants from getting nutrients from the soil, leaf bright, black leg, damping off and powdery mildew. The pests that attack the cabbages include cutworms, flea beetles, larvae, diamondback moth, cabbage hopper and maggots. Most of the diseases are prevented by spraying with chemicals and also making sure that there is enough water in the soil for the plants and also inter cropping with other crops if you are planting them on a small scale.
Just like any other plant, cabbages also need lots of nutrients for proper growth and some of the nutrients include potassium, Nitrogen, phosphorus and vitamins. All these nutrients need to be added in the right content otherwise it can cause stunted growth in the cabbages. In case there is a deficiency of any of the nutrients, it can cause issues for example lack of nitrogen leads to a pink coloring along the edges of the leaves, lack of phosphorous leads to the leaves turning to red or purple and in case there is no enough magnesium, there is slow growth.
The best time to harvest cabbages is before the cabbage head gets cracks. Cabbages are best harvested using a sharp knife and cut the stem just right above the ground. After cutting off the head, uproot the stem and roots from the ground and let it act as compost manure for the garden. Cabbages take 65 days to reach maturity although some can go for 75 days before they are ready for harvesting.
Challenges faced by farmers growing cabbages include the following:
They are frequently attacked by pests and diseases
There is an issue of soil infertility
The ever changing weather in the country leads to stunted growth of the cabbages.