Sithembele Malgas, Idutywa, Eastern Cape
I farm cabbage, spinach and butternut on rotation on a 3.5ha plot that I have subdivided into five sections. This means I can stagger production to continually supply my market, which consists mainly of chain stores in towns such as Idutywa and Butterworth, as well as the informal market in the same towns and surrounding villages. We also run a stall just outside the farm on the busy N2, and we market for resale to people who collect produce from the farm.
Cabbage is our dominant crop because it is the most profitable and always in high demand. I use three sections of land to grow and produce about 40 000 head of cabbage. One section holds about 14 000 – 15 000 cabbages when we use intra-row spacing of 600mm, and inter-row spacing of 900mm. We source seedlings from Rainbow Seedlings in East London. We have to order at least six weeks before planting.
The market here demands large cabbage heads so we use Megaton and Menzania cultivars. These varieties can grow a head of up to 13,9kg, which we can sell for between R15 and R20 each.
We use kraal manure and apply fertilisers like LAN as a top dressing for our vegetables. We also practise minimum-till, which saves on mechanisation costs and conserves the soil. I only till the land every four years.
I collect kraal manure from sheep farmers in the area and apply about four tons of manure to every section once every four years.