Growing Alugbati


Alugbati is one of the most popular vegetables in Western Visayas, particularly in the province of Iloilo. It can be grown also in other parts of the country. The young and tender leaves of alugbati are cooked with other vegetables such or with eggplant, squash, mongo or with meat, dried fish, and shrimps.

The vegetable is used in Chinese cuisine. Its many names include flowing water vegetable. Although it is only distantly related to the vegetable spinach, it is commonly known as Vietnamese spinach. It is also known in English as Malabar nightshade or Malabar climbing spinach, broad bologi, poi baagi,calaloo and buffalo spinach. Its Bengali name is pui shak, its Konkani name is valchi bhaji, its Kannada name is basale soppu, in Telugu it is called bachhali, in Filipino, it is called "alugbati", and Tamil language name is kodip pasaLi (கொடிப்பசளி). In Vietnamese, it is called mồng tơi and is cooked with crab meat, luffa and corchorus olitorius to make soup (this soup is popular in Northern Vietnam).

Typical of leaf vegetables, it is high in vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, and calcium. It is low in calories by volume, and high in protein per calorie. The succulent mucilage is a particularly rich source of soluble fiber, thought to remove mucus and toxins from the body. The plant is also a rich source of chlorophyll.

Basella alba and Basella rubra are species of alugbati which were introduced into the country and believed to have come from Tropical Asia. Basella alba is the white variety while Basella rubra is the red variety.

The vegetable easily adapts to a wide range of soil types but it thrives best in a well-drained clay loam soil. It is grown from an altitude of one meter above sea level to high elevation and can be cultivated throughout the year.

The best time for planting is at the end of the rainy season. Alugbati is propagated through seeds and cuttings 20 to 25cm long. In using cuttings, the leaves are usually removed before planting so as to reduce water loss through transpiration.

HOW TO PLANT

Soil and Climate Requirements Alugbati grows well under full sunlight in hot, humid climates and in areas lower than 500 m above sea level. Growth is slow in low temperatures resulting in low yields. Flowering is induced during the short-day months of November to February. Alugbati grows best in sandy loam soils rich in organic matter with pH ranging from 5.5 to 8.0.

Plow and harrow the field. Plant three (3) to four (4) cuttings per hill at distance of 20-30cm between hills in furrows spaced at 50 to 75cm apart. If there are more cutting, plants 7 to 10 cuttings per hill with a distance of 40 to 50cm between hills.

Cultivate by hilling up the soil either with a garden hoe or animal drawn plow. Weed by hand regularly. Irrigate when necessary. Apply compost fertilizer for best results.

Source: wikipedia, da.gov.ph

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