The Kerala Agricultural University (KAU) has good news for broccoli and lettuce lovers.
The cool-season vegetables can be grown successfully in the State between November and February, according to KAU's Department of Olericulture.
“With the introduction of tropical hybrid varieties of cool season vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, carrot, radish and beet root, they have been successfully grown in the plains of the State. The Department of Olericulture has grown them in Vellanikkara. Till recently, cabbage and cauliflower could be cultivated in the State only in the hill tracts of Idukki or Wayanad. Preliminary trials in KAU point out that broccoli and lettuce too grow well in the plains,” say K. Krishnakumary and T. E. George of the Department of Olericulture.
Broccoli is a type of cultivated cabbage (Brassica oleracea) grown for edible immature flowers. Winter broccoli has large, white heads. Sprouting broccoli (calabrese) produces small, purplish, green or white spears.
Broccoli is high in vitamin C and dietary fibre. It contains multiple nutrients with potent anti-cancer properties such as diindolylmethane. “The crop can be cultivated in the plains of the State in winter. In field trials conducted at KAU, seeds were sown in a nursery and seedlings transplanted in November into a farm. The spacing of transplantation was 45x45cm. The crop responded well to organic manures. The hybrid variety C.B.H.1 grown in KAU was harvested 50 to 60 days after transplanting,” says Dr. Krishnakumary.
Researchers at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales recently developed a pill designed to harness the cancer-fighting properties of broccoli.
A study stated that two compounds found in the vegetables - indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane - helped lower the risk of colon cancer. Similarly, researchers with the University of Illinois at Chicago have designed a chemical compound based on a naturally occurring anti-cancer agent found in the vegetable.
The numerous cultivars of lettuce, an important salad plant, have been divided into two main groups: cos, with upright heads of crisp oblong leaves, and the cabbage types with broadly rounded leaves.
Lettuce is a low calorie food and a source of vitamin A and folic acid. “Lettuce seeds were sown in a KAU nursery during October and seedlings were transplanted after four weeks. The spacing of transplantation was 45x30cm. The plant attained harvest maturity by 30 to 40 days with full development of leaves,” says Dr. George.