Greenhouse Farming

What is greenhouse farming?
Greenhouse farming is the production of crops within sheltered structures. These structures enables the farmer to control the growth conditions thereby protecting the crops against the vagaries of weather. It also protects against pests and diseases
      Cost and Equipment
  • Greenhouse – The cheapest greenhouse which measures 6m x 12m wooden and costs from Ksh. 150, 000 to put up.
  • Drip Irrigation System
  • Water Tank: A minimum of 500 liters water tank
  • Seeds: of whichever crop you want to plant – you can plant tomatoes, kales, spinach, peas, french beans among other vegetables.
  • Training 
  • Agrochemicals

Types of Greenhouses
There are two main types of green houses, differentiated by the structure. First simple tunnels (which cover ¼ of an acre or less) are built with fabricated wood and the farmer purchases polythene bags. Wooden greenhouses last for about two years because of wear and tear of the wooden poles. The wood has to be treated to prevent termite attack.
Larger greenhouses have Metallic structures and they can last up to 10 years; only the polythene which is a self regulator has to be replaced.
The metallic greenhouses are manufactured by local companies.

What you need to know
It is wise to consult an agronomist or soil expert who will analyze the soil type in your farm and give suitable advice on the type of crop to plant. Tomatoes for instance thrive in non-acidic soil with lots of manure and fertilizer. Water should also to be tested to get rid of any harmful organisms

Advantages over open field farming

  • High yields
  • Continuous harvesting
  • Longer shelf life – greenhouse tomatoes can last for 21 days compared with 14 for conventionally grown ones 
  • Shorter maturation period — two months for greenhouse and at least three months for outdoor farming. 
  • Less diseases and pest attacks due to the sheltered nature of the green house. 
  • Less labour 
  • Efficient use of water – water collected from gutters is used for irrigation 
  • Strategic Farming – A farmer can take advantage of shortage of a particular crop in some seaons to make huge profits. 
  • Land consolidation – instead of subdividing land to unproductive levels, family members can farm together in greenhouses. 
Returns on Investment
For instance a six by 12m plot can hold about 300 plants. One plant has a potential of up to 15 kg at first harvest, going up to 60 kg by the time it has completed its full cycle — recommended at one year.
The green house will produce10 tones of tomatoes per year. With a kilo of the product going at about Sh40, this adds up to Sh400, 000
The cost of setting up the greenhouse being Sh150, 000, you can see that it is a potentially profitable venture. 
A Harvest of Greenhouse Tomatoes
Check out this video on Green House farming in Kenya