Growing rape in Zambia is a popular practice as it is a staple crop in many local dishes. Rape, also known as kale or leaf cabbage, is a nutritious and versatile vegetable that can be grown in various parts of Zambia.
Here's a step-by-step guide on how to grow rape in the Zambian climate.
Choosing Rape Varieties
When choosing rape varieties, it's important to select ones that are suited to the Zambian climate. We are fortunate that Rape does well all through the year although in warmer months it may require more watering. Different varieties may have slightly different care requirements, as they have been bred for different conditions, so it is important to follow the instructions you are given on the seed pack.
Seed-Co Zambia, Hygrotech Zambia, Stark Ayres, Holland Greentech and Amiran are companies that supply Zambian agricultural market with hybrid seed.
You can also find companies that supply ready-to-plant seedlings. Most of these will advertise online or in Facebook There is a small vegetable seedling nursery, just outside of Hygrotech seeds, in the Lusaka Showgrounds that sells vegetable seedlings.
Options for Growing Rape
Rape can be grown in containers, raised garden beds, or normal beds. The type of container or bed used will depend on the amount of space available and personal preference. However, it's important to ensure that the soil is well-drained and rich in nutrients. Adding compost to the top soil will help ensure this. Rape thrives in soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.5.
Finding a Location
Rape needs full sun to grow, so it's important to find a location that receives at least six hours of sunlight per day. Additionally, it's important to ensure that the location is sheltered from strong winds, as this can damage the plants.
Rape can be started from seeds or seedlings. Seeds can be planted directly into the soil or started indoors and transplanted once they have reached about 12 cms in height. It's important to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged during germination. Seedlings should be transplanted into the soil at a depth of about 1 inch and spaced 12 inches apart.
Fertilising is important when growing rape. A balanced fertiliser, such as a 10-10-10, can be applied once a month to provide the necessary nutrients. However, it's important to avoid over-fertilising, as this can lead to lush foliage but smaller leaves.
Depending on the variety, rape leaves can be harvested once they reach a size of about 10 cms in length. It's best to harvest the outer leaves first, leaving the inner leaves to continue growing. Rape leaves can be harvested for several months, and the plants can continue to produce new growth throughout the growing season.
The same growing method can also be used for other nightshade vegetables such as spinach, Swiss chard, broccoli, cauliflower.
By following these guidelines, anyone can successfully grow healthy rape plants in Zambia, providing a nutritious and delicious vegetable that many will enjoy.