Tender Stem Broccoli (TSB) is a member of the Brassica family and related to Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage. It is a cross breed between broccoli and Chinese kale. It originated from Japan where it was developed using classical plant breeding techniques. The idea was to breed a more flavorsome brassica.
Mboga Tuu an Agricultural farm situated in Isinya and leading in exporting of Asian vegetables, has taken the bold steps in growing this species. They grow under their sister company, Jim’s Fresh Vegetable Growers & Exporters which is sub contracted by Kenya Horticultural Exporters Limited.
The farm has several lands namely: Isinya II, Isinya III, Isinya IV, and Kitengela.
All the four farms are scaling to greater heights under the leadership of Daniel Agawo, the General Manager but they have several farm managers.
Sylviah Chege the Farm Manager growing TSB, baby corns, cascadia (sugar snaps) and snow peas in Isinya III articulated to us that broccoli grows like sukuma wiki (kales). “You sow seeds in the nurseries using the propagating trays just like kales where it takes 4 weeks for it to be ready for transplanting” explained Sylviah.
The farm has dedicated different blocks which cumulatively amount to 10 hectares all to growing of tender stem broccoli.
Once the fields have been well prepared, seedlings are planted 30cm in between the plants and 30cm in between the rows. Depending with the size of the bed, it can take 2 or 3 rows. In case some plants dry up gapping is done to retain the population per hectare.
Water is usually applied through the drips. TSB is a heavy feeder and it’s important to water it ones per day depending on the weather to enable the stem to be tender and soft,’’ Chege retaliated
When planting, they apply fertilizer with high content levels of phosphorus, such as DAP which enables strong root growth. After four weeks, they do fertigations in split applications whereby fertilizers rich in nitrogen, Phosphorus, potassium plus trace elements are applied in the recommended rates as per the crop requirements and the soil analysis results. Mostly their soil analysis is done by the Crop Nutrition Company. Foliar sprays are also done depending on the stage of the crop; be it germinating, vegetative, flowering and fruiting.
‘’TSB leaves are edible and nutritious, they are cooked like sukuma but they are acid less thus preferred by people with ulcers. We pluck the tender leaves for our workers and also feed them to our animals”, Chege said.
Read the full article in Hortfresh Journal July-August edition
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