I tried my hand at watermelon farming after my great uncle nudged me to try. He told me that he had a lot of seed and different watermelon cultivars and I should give a try. I live in a high altitude area and I knew that even if I was to try to grow watermelon, my best bet was to grow them during the hot and dry season. This is because during the rainy season, the dampness and cold would cause the challenge of fungal diseases of which watermelons are prone.
I agreed to try my hand at watermelon farming. The seeds I got were about 4 watermelon and 2 cantaloupe cultivars. When the dry season came around I prepared the little plot of land. I decided to divide the trial into open field and greenhouse tunnel.
I had researched and found out that watermelon vines can grow quite long and require more space than other plants that I was used to planting, like tomatoes and cabbages. I thus gave a space of about a meter, inter-row, and about half a meter plant to plant. I read that depending on how vigorous the plants were, thinning of plants may also be necessary.
From germination, the watermelon plants seemed to be doing well. I closely monitored the progress and from my time planting tomatoes, I had learned that prevention is better than cure. I started a weekly spray programme to control both insect damage as well as fungal diseases. Plants in both open field and greenhouse tunnel were treated the same.
Vermiculture (worm farming) is the keeping of worms for production mainly of vermicompost and their waste liquid called leachate. I came upon this idea after looking for an organic way to add nutrients back into the soil as opposed to using inorganic fertilizer.
My research into this made me look for a source of worms to start up my project. My search led me to a local university where a lecturer had a project she was doing on vermiculture. After I had contacted her and gotten an appointment, I went to get my worms. She was interested in how I arrived at my conclusion on vermiculture. She said it was unusual for a man to be interested in that kind of thing as she had mainly dealt with interested women. She went as far as to tell me that women had even formed cooperatives in India to produce vermicompost.
Once she had explained how to take care of the worms and how to collect the vermicompost, I bought my container full of worms to go and start my vermiculture venture. As the worms were too little to start right away in a large pit, I had researched and saw that I could begin with a few plastic containers fitted into each other with holes drilled into one for leachate removal, and air for the worms to breathe.
I grew a total of two seasons of sweet lupin. This was a protein source for my cows. I found out about sweet lupin after researching about protein sources for my dairy herd. We were already feeding soya as part of the protein mix for the cows ration. Soya in recent years has been going up in price. As dairy firms operate on very thin margins, I was looking for a way to reduce the cost of feeding the cows while still maintaining production levels.
From my research, I found out that sweet lupin is almost similar in crude protein content to soya. I then went about looking for seed. I found out that it wasn't a very popular crop grown by farmers around and thus was not readily available in the agro-vet shops. My searching for seeds led me to the agricultural research institute where I was lucky enough to get some seed. It was however expensive, in my view, compared to the seeds for other crops I was used to buying like maize and sorghum.
The staff at the agricultural research institute were kind enough to give me a pamphlet with some guiding instructions on sweet lupin farming. I came to find out that the cost of the seed was only the tip of the iceberg as regards cost of growing the crop.
I love food with tomatoes. This is true for plain tomato soup. It is even more true for a meat stew which has its flavour enhanced with tomatoes to add to the flavor.
I however began tomato farming through the investment opportunity presented by agro-companies that had an offer of green house tunnel farming. It is the one crop that they insisted that was a good match for growing the the green house. This was due to the fact that they started giving returns in about 4-5 months after sowing the seed.
I was hooked, I guess as many people who were too, by the promise of returns within 4 or so months and the constant supply of tomato fruits for about 6-7 months.
As this was the time i was thinking of leaving formal employment,e I visited the agro company's premises where they even had a demonstration section to show just how versatile this greenhouse farming could be. They had planted tomatoes, kales, bell peppers, kales, courgettes and other vegetables. The plants all had one thing in common, they looked positively healthy and very vivid in color and had a glorious sheen to them. Almost all the people who came to see agreed that the produce was among the best they had seen. Most had a gleam in their eyes as they prospected how they would rake in some cool hard cash once they had one greenhouse of their very own setup. I must admit I too looked like one of those cartoons who had just discovered the secret to wealth with dollar signs in their eyes.
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