Mkulima today we cover the basics of starting out in bulb onion tomato farming. This is a step by step guide on the basics of starting out in bulb onion farming.

Site selection 

Plant onions in easily broken soils that have high organic matter, that infiltrates, and have good water retention ability.

You can manage this by farming on a sandy to silty loam soil. The ideal gradient of the farm should be flat or with a gentle slope.

If you will be planting on a high surface or land cultivated on terraces. You need to plant in rows across the main slope.

For onions to do well farm them on land with manure and crop residue from the previous season.

Onions do well with well-decomposed organic manure.

Crop rotation

Practice crop rotation by planting onions after legumes like beans, tomatoes, and cabbages.

As a point of caution do not plant onions in one field for more than two farming seasons.

Crop management

Ensure to transplant the onion seedlings at 6 – 8 weeks after germination or at 3 to 5 well-formed leaves when the base of the plant is pencil thick.

Plan the seedlings in 2.5 to 3cm deep trenches at a spacing of 3 centimeters between the rows. The distance between your plants should be about 8 to 10 centimeters apart.

Make sure to irrigate your seedbed prior to harvesting the plants from the bed. This ensures the plants are transplanted without damage during the uprooting stage.

To ensure a great transplant to maturity ratio irrigate the desired field a day before the transplanting day.

Apply 80 kilograms per acre of TSP/DAP in the field. e green

Carefully pull out the seedlings to avoid damage.

Cut off 50 percent of the crop to hasten growth after transplanting.

Site selection

Prepare land at least two weeks before the onset of rains. Doing this allows air into the soil and exposes pests that live in the soil o die.

Ensure the soil is well prepared for proper germination and establishment of the crop.

Break up all the big soil clods and remove weeds.

Spread out well rotten manure at a rate of 10 to 16 tons per acre. This is easily estimated to be between 500 and 800 wheelbarrows.

Mix the manure with the soil 30 days before transplanting.

If the manure available is not enough then apply in planting lines and mix with the soil just before the onset of the rains.

Use soil analysis results to know the nutrient requirements of the soil prior to planting. This can be easily done by sending a soil sample to soil testing labs that are closest to you.


Plough and harrow a month before sowing and leave the land for a period without planting.

Doing this will expose cutworms to their predators. You will need to plant treated seeds and that is certified by KEPHIS.

To ensure the farm’s nutrient integrity rotate onions with beans, cabbages, or potatoes.

Only use well-decomposed manure or compost since fresh compost and manure can hist cutworms.

Use only clean seedlings/ seeds during the planting phase.

Avoid using and planting successive onions and don’t plant onions on a farm after cabbages or kales.

Soak the seedlings/bulbs in products containing dicofol like Acarin for 30 minutes before planting.

You should source and plant resistant varieties like  Red Passion F1 and Red Poney F1 to help you in disease management.

Make sure you follow the required spacing from plant to plant during planting.

Raising seedlings

Buy only certified seeds. Use a seed rate is 0.8 to 1.2 per acre and in a nursery under a mulch cover.

Prepare beds maximum 1 meter wide and incorporate well-decomposed compost farmyard manure.

This should be done at a rate of 20kgs/m2  and add DAP or TSP 20 grams/m2.

Make rows about 15 centimeters apart, drill the seed thinly in 1-centimeter furrows and cover lightly with soil and mulch.

The light cover-up will make it easier for the seeds to germinate. Seeds start to germinate after a period of 7 – 10 days.

Irrigate the nursery bed regularly. After the seed emerges, remove the mulch.

Prepare a raised cover. Manage weeds, pests, and diseases to help the crops grow.