Khutso Njenga, Rooiwal, Pretoria, Gauteng
We’re harvesting from some tunnels while in others we’ve just planted. To ensure continuous production, we plant our tunnels six weeks apart. We’ve recently started producing our own seedlings. We buy seeds from Rijk Zwaan that we plant directly into sawdust bags, about a hand deep. We then use clean water to irrigate until the seed protrudes three to four days later
We then begin our fertilisation programme of a calcium nitrate and Hygromix mixture at a level of 1.5 electrical conductivity (EC) and pH for two weeks. The pH refers to the acid and base nature of a solution, which influences the solubility and availability of nutrients, whereas the EC is a measure of total soluble and dissolved salts.
We then increase the EC and pH levels to 1.8 until we begin harvesting, after six to eight weeks. Our monthly spraying programme follows a four-week routine: we use Orthene, Odeon, Scalex, foliar feed and Silicote in Week 1; Agromectin, Mulan, Defender, Oenosan and Silicote in Week 2; Methomex, Parsec, Dithane, foliar feed and Silicote in Week 3; and Tracer, Seizer, Bellis, foliar feed and Silicote in Week 4.
We normally harvest about 19 to 20 fruit per tree in summer; in winter this may drop to between 13 and 15 fruit.