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How to grow cabbages in rotation with legumes for more benefits

Cabbage gives higher yields at a lower cost when grown in rotation with leguminous African leafy vegetables (ALV) like cowpea (kunde) and sunhemp (mitoo, miroo) The ALVs fix nitrogen that benefit ts the cabbage crop whose head weight increases from an average of 2 kg to 3 kg, for the varieties which are small headed. The cowpea and sunhemp leaves are used as vegetables and they also fi x nitrogen and reduce pests and disease incidences.


This system is suitable for farmers in areas with 2 well defi ned seasons of rain, depleted soils and where continuous cropping of the same crop is common

How to do legume-cabbage rotation

Step 1: Planting

Plant the leguminous ALV (sunhemp or cowpea) during long rains at

Sunhemp: 45cm x drill
Cow pea: 45cm x 20cm

  • Apply 180g (One 50gm blue band container) of Triple Supper Phosphate (TSP) per every 3mx4m plot.
  • Check crop germination for good stand count to ensure adequate biomass for incorporation
  • keep the field weed free.

Step 2: Leaf harvesting

  • Just before the crop fl owers (2.5 months after planting), harvest the leaves and the very tender shoots for use in the kitchen or sale as vegetables.

Step 3: Plant incorporation

  • Chop the remaining straws, shoot and roots into small pieces, then incorporate in to the soil by digging them into the soil.
  • Let the fi eld rest for 1-11/2 months, mean while establish your cabbage nursery. Step 4: Cabbage planting • Prepare the fi eld after the 1-1.5 months • Make holes at a spacing of 60cmx50cm and add 1-2 bottle tops of phosphate fertilizer preferably DAP, per hole.

Step 4: Cabbage planting

  • Prepare the field after the 1-1.5 months
  • Make holes at a spacing of 60cmx50cm and add 1-2 bottle tops of phosphate fertilizer preferably DAP, per hole.
  • Plant the cabbage seedlings
  • Keep the field weed free do not top dress with inorganic fertilizer as it is not necessary

Step 5: Cabbage Harvesting

  • Harvest the cabbages after 65-75 days when heads are full and firm depending on the variety and area


  • The leguminous ALV fi xes Nitrogen which is sued by the cabbage and the grower saves money by not buying inorganic N fertilizer like CAN.
  • More vegetable is available form the leaves of ALV (3 tonnes/ha) in addition to cabbage harvest.
  • There is reduction in pest and diseases incidence and therefore a saving on cost of spraying

Compiled by KARI

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