29 Jan Greenhouse management
How to achieve 18 months of crop production in your greenhouse in Kenya
To optimise returns on your (normally expensive) greenhouse, you need to target at least 18 months of continuous crop production. Greenhouse management is key and many factors gang up to either pass or fail you
We zero in on two key factors
Temperature in greenhouse management.
Your crop is as comfortable as you are in the greenhouse. If you’re too hot, too sweaty and generally quite uncomfortable, then that’s your crop shouting. Go for taller green houses, the higher it is, the better your air conditioning. Your greenhouse structure ought to be at least 5 meters height for proper air movement. Raise your side roll-ups during hot days when external temperatures exceed 23 degrees Celsius. Draw them back in the evening if the temperature drops below 17 degrees Celsius to keep the green house effect.
Temperature monitoring can be done using a standard thermometer inside the greenhouse. Alternatively, as is the practice in most greenhouses in Kenya, is to work with the external temperature. For example, if the outside temperature exceeds 23 degrees Celcius, then measures are taken to cool it. It is the proper greenhouse management of temperature.
Some greenhouses will either have a side netting without the roll-ups on the long side. A polythene cover will be on the short sides. Or it could be a side netting all along the sides. Such greenhouses are located in the lowlands. These places are hot in the day, warm in the night.
2. Soil management.
A planting bed for any of the greenhouses in Kenya must be a plateful sustaining your crop for 18 months. Achieve this by deeper trenching, adding as much decomposed organic matter and wood ash. Fill it up and mix together with the soil. Besides nutrients, good trenching before bedding allows your crop roots enjoy; lots of air, quick water percolation and long moisture retention. This optimizes your irrigation. Your crop is designed to primarily feed on its roots, so give it an 18 months plateful. Subsequent chemical fertilizer applications compliment this. Lazy short cutting to foliar feeds is a certain fail. Foliar fertilizers must only supplement particularly unavailable secondary or microelements.
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