Courgette, also known as zucchini, is a highly nutritious vegetable that is easy to grow in Kenya. It is a versatile vegetable that can be used in various dishes, including salads, soups, and stews. Courgette is a warm-season crop that requires well-drained soil, adequate moisture, and plenty of sunlight.
When it comes to courgette farming in Kenya, there are several factors to consider, including land preparation, seed selection, planting, and maintenance. Proper land preparation is essential for the successful growth of courgette. The soil should be well-drained, fertile, and rich in organic matter. Seed selection is also crucial, as it determines the quality and yield of the crop. Planting should be done during the warm season, and the crop should be well-maintained to ensure healthy growth and maximum yield.
In this article, we will provide a comprehensive guide on how to grow courgette in Kenya. We will cover everything from land preparation to harvesting, including tips on seed selection, planting, watering, fertilization, and pest and disease control. Whether you are a seasoned farmer or a beginner, this guide will provide you with all the information you need to grow healthy and productive courgette crops.
Climate and Soil Requirements
Courgette, also known as zucchini, is a warm-season crop that requires specific climatic and soil conditions to grow and produce a good yield. Here are the climate and soil requirements for growing courgette in Kenya:
Courgette requires a warm and humid climate to grow well. The ideal temperature range for growing courgette is between 15°C to 22°C. The crop cannot tolerate frost or extreme heat. It is recommended to grow courgette at altitudes of 500-2000 meters above sea level. During the vegetative growth period, an optimum water supply of 800mm would suffice the plants. Irrigation is recommended in case you want to grow in dry areas.
Courgette grows well in well-drained, fertile soil. The soil should have a pH range of 6-7.5. Soil rich in organic matter and with good moisture-retaining capacity is ideal for courgette farming. Add one wheelbarrow of compost manure per each square meter of soil. Avoid planting courgette in soil that is too acidic. Lime can be used to reduce soil acidity.
It is important to note that soil preparation should be done early enough, about 2 months before planting. Mix the soil evenly with farmyard manure and ensure you dig holes evenly 2 centimeters deep at the spacing of 100 cm by 60 cm. Plant 2 to 3 seeds in holes and cover them with even soil. Ensure the land planted has enough moisture by irrigation when the rains are not sufficient. After emergence of seeds, thin the courgette to one plant per hill.
By following these climate and soil requirements, you can grow healthy courgette plants and achieve a good yield.
Varieties of Courgette
Courgette, also known as zucchini, is a popular vegetable that is grown in many parts of Kenya. There are several varieties of courgette that are suitable for cultivation in Kenya. Some of the most common varieties include:
|Green Zucchini||Royal Seed|
|Ambassador F1||Kenya Seed|
|Simba F1||East African Seed|
|Black Beauty||Sakata Seed|
|Cera F1||Kenya Seed|
When choosing a variety, it is important to consider factors such as yield potential, disease resistance, and market demand. Green Zucchini and Ambassador F1 are popular varieties that are known for their high yield potential and good disease resistance.
It is recommended to plant 1 kg of seeds per acre (6-8 kg of seeds/ha) for optimal growth and yield. However, the amount of seeds required may vary depending on the variety and planting method used.
Overall, there are several varieties of courgette that are suitable for cultivation in Kenya. By choosing the right variety and following proper cultivation practices, farmers can achieve good yields and contribute to the growth of the agricultural sector in Kenya.
Preparing the Soil and Planting
Courgettes grow best in well-drained soil that is rich in nutrients. To prepare your soil for planting, follow these steps:
- Clear the land of weeds and debris.
- Loosen the soil to a depth of at least 30 cm.
- Amend the soil with organic matter such as compost, manure, or leaf mold. This will improve soil structure and provide essential nutrients for your courgette plants.
- Test the soil pH to ensure it is between 6.0 and 7.5. If the pH is too low, add lime to raise it. If it is too high, add sulfur to lower it.
After preparing your soil, it’s time to plant your courgette seeds:
- Sow three seeds per planting hole at a depth of 1.5 cm.
- Thin out to the most vigorous plant after two to three weeks.
- Alternatively, you can grow two plants at opposite edges of the seedbed.
- Some varieties might need a climbing support to improve air circulation around the plant.
When transplanting courgettes, do it at the 3 to 4 leaf stage. If you want quality produce, mix the soil with DAP or manure. Prepare your land 2-3 months before planting. Mulch your crops to retain soil moisture and keep the fruits clean. Mulching also releases nutrients into the soil, which are absorbed by the courgettes. Water the courgette soil moderately throughout the growing season, and more when the plants are in flowering and fruiting stages.
Fertilization and Irrigation
Proper fertilization and irrigation are essential for the growth and development of courgette plants in Kenya. Below are some tips to help you get the best results:
Before planting, it is recommended to prepare the soil by adding organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure. This will improve soil structure and provide essential nutrients for the plants.
During the growing season, courgette plants require regular fertilization to maintain healthy growth and high yields. Nitrogen is the most important nutrient for courgette plants, and it should be applied in the form of a balanced fertilizer.
Apply 1 teaspoonful of the fertilizer at the base of each plant in a ring or along the rows, about 15cm away from the plant at a rate of 50-100kg per acre. Other nitrogenous fertilizers like urea can also be used.
Courgette plants require consistent moisture to grow and produce fruit. Irrigation can be used to supplement rainfall in areas with dry conditions. The amount of water required will depend on the stage of growth, soil type, and weather conditions.
It is recommended to water courgette plants deeply and infrequently to encourage deep root growth. Watering should be done early in the morning or late in the afternoon to reduce evaporation and water loss.
A good rule of thumb is to provide 800mm of water during the vegetative growth period. However, the amount of water required may vary depending on the specific conditions in your area. It is important to monitor soil moisture levels regularly and adjust irrigation accordingly.
Pest and Disease Management
When growing courgettes in Kenya, it is essential to put in place measures to manage pests and diseases that may affect the crop. Here are some of the common pests and diseases that affect courgettes and how to manage them:
Cut worms, fruit flies, aphids, red spider mites, leaf miners, and Epilachna beetles are some of the pests that can attack courgettes. Here are some ways to manage them:
- Practice crop rotation to reduce pest infestation.
- Use insecticides to control pests.
- Introduce natural predators like ladybirds and lacewings to control pests.
- Use physical barriers like nets to keep pests away from the crop.
Courgettes are also susceptible to various diseases, including damping off, anthracnose, downy mildew, powdery mildew, and mosaic. Here are some ways to manage them:
- Plant resistant varieties of courgettes.
- Practice good field hygiene by removing and destroying infected plant debris.
- Use fungicides to control diseases.
- Avoid overwatering the plants to prevent fungal growth.
It is essential to monitor the crop regularly for any signs of pests or diseases and take appropriate measures to manage them promptly. Failure to manage pests and diseases can lead to significant crop losses, affecting your overall yield.
Harvesting and Storage
Courgettes are ready for harvesting after 2-3 months of planting. Harvesting is done by cutting the fruits off the stem, leaving a short peduncle of about 2-5cm on the fruit. The fruits should be harvested when they are 10-20cm long. Regular picking should be done to encourage fruiting. Harvesting should be done at least three times a week to ensure continuous production of new fruits.
After harvesting, the courgettes should be sorted to remove any damaged or diseased fruits. Courgettes should be stored in a cool, dry place to prevent moisture buildup, which can lead to rotting. Courgettes can be stored for up to 2 weeks at a temperature of 10-15°C and a relative humidity of 90-95%.
It is important to handle courgettes carefully to avoid bruising, which can reduce their shelf life. Courgettes should be transported in well-ventilated containers to prevent moisture buildup.
If you are planning to sell your courgettes, it is important to have a marketing plan in place. You can sell your courgettes to local markets or directly to consumers. You can also consider exporting your courgettes to international markets. However, it is important to ensure that you meet all the necessary export requirements, including quality standards and packaging regulations.
Also Read: Cucumber Farming In Kenya
Sources: Waithaka, J. H. G. “Commercial outdoor vegetables and ornamental crops in Kenya.” Outlook on Agriculture 8.2 (1974): 77-80. Link: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/003072707400800205
Koech, S., B. Mbevi, and M. J. Otipa. “Thrips on courgette-Kenya.” Thrips on courgette-Kenya (2016). Link: https://www.cabdirect.org/cabdirect/abstract/20167800885