3.0 GARDENING PRACTICES
3.1 Indigenous Food Crops
- Indigenous food crops are the crops that grow naturally in the garden. Some of these indigenous food crops have been adopted by human beings and they are now grown artificially to provide food for Kenyans Examples of these crops include; spider weeds, arrow roots, cassava, sorghum, sweet potatoes and black night shade.
- Indigenous foods crops are much important to our nutrition because they provide required nutrients and minerals to our body.
- They provide carbohydrates from root tubers, vitamins from leafy crops and minerals such as zinc and iron from plant like the black night shade and the spider weeds.
- Indigenous foods are foods that our great grandparents used to eat
- These foods benefit us in a number of ways like providing us with carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins that protect us from diseases, they also help in healing of wounds.
- Also when surplus are sold they generate income
- Some these plants need to be handled with care like stinging nettle can cause an itching sensation on the skin and should be handled with care.
Ensure you put on gloves when handling such leaves.
- Therefore they are important in reducing food shortage and hunger in the country. Most of these crops can be grown using organic manure, hence no need of buying expensive artificial fertilizer.
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3.2 Vegetable gardening practices
- Vegetable gardening is the process of growing vegetable crops. Vegetable group are important to our bodies because the provide carbohydrates to the body.
- Vitamins are best nutrients for the body because they protect our bodies against diseases. Vegetable crop include; tomatoes, cabbage, kales, spinach, cucumber and carrots. A vegetation is a part of a plant that is used as food.
Preparing a seedbed
- A part from providing food, vegetables can also be sold to earn income for farmers.
- Some vegetable are first raised in a nursery before being transplanted. A nursery bed is a small area of land for raising young seedling before they are transplanted to a permanent place called a seedbed.
- A nursery bed is prepared to comprise of fine soil particles. Fallow are made using a stick or an index finger, after leveling the nursery bed and mixing the soil with organic manure.
Sowing seeds on a nursery bed
- The seeds are then spread along the fallows in the process called drilling.
Cover the seeds with a thin layer of fine soil.
- Apply dry plant materials to mulch the nursery bed and water it on top of the mulch.
Care for the vegetable seedlings in the nursery
- Vegetable seedlings are taken care of by constructing a shade on top of them to prevent being weakened by direct sunlight and to preserve water, by preventing water lose from the nursery bed through evaporation.
- The seedlings should be watered regularly and weed removed from their midst. When the seedlings are ready, you should transplant them into a seedbed.
Preparing a seedbed for planting vegetable seedlings.
- Transplanting seedlings in the seedbed should be taken care of. This is through weeding, watering and application of fertilizer or manure. Dried up seedlings after transplanting should be replaced in the process called gapping.
- Other practices such as mulching, shading application of pesticides to control pests and diseases are important. Pruning of some vegetables such as tomatoes is needed. This is cutting of excess branches.
- Tall tomatoes varieties need to be trained, so that they grow upright. Once the crops are ready, they need to be harvested in time.
- It is important to keep records of various gardening activities such as the date of planting. This can help us to estimate the expected date of harvesting.
- Some vegetables such as cabbages take between two to three months before they are harvested. Other vegetables may take longer than this.
- Some vegetable fruits are harvested when they are big in size and when they start changing colour. E.g. tomatoes and hot pepper turn red while some pumpkins turn orange.
- However, other vegetable fruits such as sweet pepper may still be harvested when they are green in colour.
- The ripe fruits are picked by the hand. Care is taken so as not to damage the skin of the fruit. Harvesting of the fruit should be done at the right time to avoid over ripening which lowers their quality.
- For leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach, it is good to harvest when the leaves are tender and green. The lower outer leaves are broken from the stem to allow the plant to produce more.
- The cabbage head is removed by cutting the base of the stalk with a sharp panga.
- Bulb onions are harvested when the top leaves start bending and turning yellow. Soil is loosened around the bulbs and then the bulbs are pulled out.
3.3 Innovative Gardening
3.3.1 Vertical and Horizontal Gardening
Vertical gardening is crowing crops above the ground. This is used to minimize the space for practicing crop production. It can be used in places where is enough land to practice gardening on a large piece of land. This practice also save water.
The importance of vertical gardening is that it is easy to control weeds, pest and diseases. Crops produced from vertical gardens are also clean because they don’t get into contact with soil.
Leafy vegetables such as kales and spinach are harvested when they large enough to use for cooking. They are carefully plucked using hands to avoid uprooting the whole plant.
Fruit vegetables are plucked when they are ripe. Tomatoes should be carefully picked when they are ripe.