Garlic is a popular crop with a high demand in Kenya and beyond. Meru County, in particular, has favorable conditions for growing garlic, including fertile soil, favorable weather conditions, and availability of water. If you’re interested in starting a garlic farm in Meru County, here are some steps to guide you:
How to Start a garlic farm in Meru County
Research and planning: Conduct thorough research on garlic farming in Meru County. This should include market demand, soil types, pest and disease control, planting season, and harvesting methods. Develop a business plan for garlic farming in Meru County that includes the cost of land, labor, equipment, and inputs, as well as potential revenue and profits.
Land selection: Choose a site that is well-drained, fertile, and receives ample sunlight. The ideal soil pH for garlic is between 6.0 and 7.5. If you’re unsure about the soil quality, conduct a soil test to determine the nutrient levels and pH.
Land preparation: Clear the land and remove any debris or rocks. Till the soil to a depth of at least 8 inches to loosen it and create a suitable planting bed. Add organic matter, such as compost or manure, to enrich the soil.
Garlic variety selection: Choose a garlic variety that is suitable for the Meru County growing conditions. Some popular varieties include Purple Italian Garlic, Chinese Garlic, and Early Italian Garlic.
Getting into the Farm
Planting: Garlic is typically planted in the months of April and May. Plant the garlic cloves about 2 inches deep and 6 inches apart in rows that are spaced 12 inches apart. Cover the cloves with soil and water thoroughly.
Fertilization: Apply a balanced fertilizer at planting and again after the first month of growth. Avoid over-fertilization as this can lead to excessive foliage growth and smaller bulb size.
Irrigation: Garlic requires regular watering, especially during the first month of growth. Irrigate the plants with at least an inch of water per week, or more if the weather is dry.
Weed control: Keep the garlic field free of weeds as they compete for nutrients and water. Hand weeding or shallow cultivation are effective weed control methods.
Pest and disease control: Garlic is susceptible to pests and diseases such as thrips, nematodes, and white rot. Implement pest and disease control measures such as crop rotation, use of resistant varieties, and application of appropriate pesticides.
Harvesting: Garlic is ready for harvesting when the leaves begin to yellow and dry out, usually after 8-10 months. Dig up the garlic bulbs and leave them in the field to dry for a few days. Store the bulbs in a cool, dry place with good ventilation.
Starting a garlic farm in Meru County requires commitment, patience, and hard work. However, with proper planning, land preparation, and maintenance, you can expect a bountiful harvest and a profitable venture.