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Growing the healthiest dhania in your balcony Eve woman

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 Since they are small herbs, they can be planted in kitchen gardens and in small pots (Shutterstock)

Coriander, popularly known as dania, is a spice used in stews and kachumbari. It is loved for its unique aroma and flavour.

Being an affordable early-maturing crop that is nutritious, it is always on demand. Since they are small herbs, they can be planted in kitchen gardens and in small pots.

Gideon Gachii from Kiambu County plants coriander and sells them in the neighbourhood. He shares insights on crop husbandry and market opportunities.

According to Gachii, the common varieties in Kenya include Leaf Cilantro, Seed Coriander, Vietnamese Coriander and Culantro.

Preparation

For quality, he advises farmers to get seeds from certified companies like Kenya Seed Company. The crop does well in places with no extreme temperatures and grow rapidly with the right amount of sunshine in loamy soil. “A warm 25 degree celsius is enough for the seeds to germinate and grow into plants,” says Gachii.

After tilling the land, plant coriander seeds in drills 30cm apart at a sowing depth of 2.5cm to 3.5cm. Germination occurs from day seven to 10 after sowing.

“The crop requires fertile soil, so add organic manure and fertilise the soil as per crop-nutrient requirement. For best results, apply fertiliser after doing a soil test. That way you will know the nutrients that are missing,” he advises.

Thinning

This is done when the crop attains five to ten centimetres height. After sowing coriander seeds, water them thoroughly and continue doing so every day till the seeds germinate.

After germination, water the plants only when it is necessary. Well drained soil is always a pre-requisite for coriander crop.

“Ensure that the water doesn’t stand for long hours as it will cause rotting of the roots and damage the plants,” Gachii says.

 The crop requires fertile soil, so add organic manure and fertilise the soil (Shutterstock)

Pest management

Some challenges he faces are attacks from pests like aphids and diseases like bacterial leaf spot, soft rot and powdery mildew. However, these are easily controlled through maintaining field hygiene, crop rotation, seed dressing and using disease free seeds. “Spraying with pesticides and fungicides is not recommended unless necessary,” he says.

Harvesting

Within four to six weeks after planting, the dhania should be ready for harvesting. Gachii advises farmers to always start by harvesting the largest ones to allow the smaller plants get enough space to grow.

“Harvest dhania when its leaves are still green otherwise they will get soft and turn yellow. For storage, soak the harvested dhania in water to maintain their freshness,” says Gachii.

Market

Gachii markets his produce online, this helps him reach more customers. He also supplies to the local mama mbogas around.

“Other customers just come here to buy by themselves, I sell from Sh5, depending on the amount needed by the customer,” says Gachii.



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