How to grow collard greens or Sukuma Wiki while in Uganda
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Collard Greens or Sukuma Wiki
Well don’t be too fast to think you don’t know what collard greens are, because you do know them very well.
Have you ever heard of ‘Sukuma wiki’? Of course you have, if you are an East African specifically Uganda, then you probably know it as Sukuma wiki. Actually, it is called colewort and some people just seem to mistake it for kale.
But Sukuma wiki is the Swahili version of collard greens.
And it just doesn’t matter if you want to plant it for home consumption or for commercial purpose, they are quite the easiest greens to plant and harvest within two months.
So, if you’ve been thinking of planting Sukuma wiki, here is the guide for you. But first off, I want to give you a little bit of advice.
You can grow collard greens throughout all seasons including the dry season if you are willing to water them. This is just how the farmers of collard greens in Gulu and Karimajong district do it.
But the most tasty and highly nutritious collard greens are those planted during the rainy seasons. So it’s your choice when to plant and when not to.
Just ensure that the soil is loamy, well drained and highly rich in organic matter though you still have to add manure while planting.
Sukuma wiki seeds can easily be accessed from any agricultural stores around you or even in some supermarkets at prices ranging from Ug shs 3,500 to 8,000 for a tin of 50 grams.
Mind you, the type of Sukuma wiki seeds you buy also matter a lot, for example we have the Mfalme F1 Sukuma wiki which is non acidic when cooked making it suitable for people with ulcers.
There is also the Collard Southern Georgia which gives high yields and is highly tolerant to heat. The Marrow stem Sukuma wiki however is more favorable in cool climates so as to provide the dark green leaves.
Don’t get confused with the different varieties; you can always count on the seller to explain to you the best conditions for each variety. Of course if you ask them politely.
How to make a collard greens nursery bed while in Uganda
This is the most important stage of growing collard greens.
Set up your nursery bed with some manure added to the soil a month before sowing the seeds. If the nursery is on ground level, try to raise the soil to prevent running water from washing away the seeds.
Make some half inch trenches in the soil and sow the seeds. Level off the soil lightly and cover it with a thin mulch after which sprinkle some water. In 3-5 days the seeds will have germinated.
Continue to water the seedlings twice a day with exception of rainy days and weed them consistently for a month while in the nursery bed.
Separate the seedlings that are too close to each other by a 2-3 cm spacing so as to have healthy seedlings with less competition for sunlight, minerals and oxygen.
Young collard greens are easy targets for diseases like downy mildews where their leaves develop yellow dry spots on the surface and white fluffy mold on the backside. Only when you spot such symptoms should you spray your greens otherwise, restrict from using chemicals.
Transplanting the collard seedlings from the nursery bed to your garden while in Uganda
After a month your seedlings will be ready for transplanting, ensure that you reduce the amount of water so as to harden the seedlings one week prior.
Transplanting is best done when the sun is not scorching so that would preferably be during the early morning hours and late in the evenings or even on cloudy days.
Much as the spacing would depend on the size of your place, at least keep the plants 30cm apart. It could be 30 X 30cm, 30 X 60cm or even 60 X 60cm.
Continue watering and weeding your Sukuma wiki as well as spraying pesticides and fungicides when necessary for three more weeks.
Harvesting your fully grown collard greens while in Uganda
No doubt, the collard greens will be ready for harvesting by this time.
Ensure to break off the leafy branch leaving a small section attached to the main stem instead of completely ripping it off to avoid rotting.
At least you can harvest them once a week because collard greens are just your all year through greens. Of course with constant watering, spraying and organic matter addition.
If it was meant for commercial purposes, then go on and find the best market out there.
Collard greens or Sukuma wiki as it is locally called is one of the best greens dishes we have in Uganda. Should you feel like adding greens on your menu, sukuma wiki shouldn’t miss!