Cabbages are an important vegetable in Uganda and an emerging money crop, because of the growing market, both locally and regionally.
There is a big market for cabbages. In fact when you go to areas in the east, you realise that a lot of the cabbages sold there come from Kenya.
Cabbages can be eaten as a salad, boiled alone or mixed with a sauce. In Uganda, cabbages can be grown in all areas that receive ample rainfall.
At the peak of the season, a medium-sized cabbage costs between sh500 and sh1,000 at the farm. However, during the dry season, they go for about sh1,500-sh2,500.
An acre takes around sh15,000-sh20,000 cabbages, which makes an average sh10m-sh25m, depending on the season. Average costs per acre are sh5m, including buying seeds.
Despite its heat tolerance, the crop needs tender care for its proper growth. A nursery bed helps the crop to grow since at the tender age, climatic conditions are extremely high and can dry it up.
Well-drained soils enhance quick germination within 21-25 days before transplanting.
For best result, one needs to prepare the ground with organic materials to act as fertilisers, before thinking of transplanting.
Manure is one of the essentials for proper growth in the nursery bed, therefore, basal fertilisers, such DAP, insecticide and fungicide give a healthy seed.
This is backed up with fine soils mulched with dry grass, before water is applied using a watering can. Do not flood the seeds.
Uproot the seedlings with roots. This ensures high chances of survival and better establishment in the main garden. Watering the seedlings one hour before transplanting moistures the soil for their survival.
For purposes of pest and disease control, the cabbages ought to grow on land which has been free for the last two years.
Rotten farmyard manure, DAP and TSP fertilisers ought to be used, depending on the type of the soil. For purposes of aeration of the soil, the field ought to be ploughed two to three weeks in advance, at least eight inches deep.
Harrowing the field two to three weeks later after ploughing prepares soil well. Keeping the field free from weeds reduces competition for light, space and nutrients, hence reducing pest and disease infestation.
How to control pests and diseases
Cabbage diseases include black rot, black leg, downey mildew and white rust, which attack both the leaves and roots.
These are controlled by carrying out crop rotation, proper hygiene, and use of recommended fungicides.
Common pests include nematodes, cutworms, aphids, diamond back moth and thrips.
Cabbages are ready at 65-75 days after planting. At this stage, they are firm with fully formed heads and weighing between 2kg-4kg.
These have to be harvested as soon as possible to avoid cracking of the heads.