Friday, 8 February 2013

Growing thorn melon in Kenya

Thorn melon fruit is an emerging agribusiness activity which is a fast expanding . Growing thorn melon in Kenya has since time immemorial happened wildly particularly in the hot areas like sagana in kirinyaga and the coast province. The fruit has a good taste and makes nice juice. The fruit has a high demand and good local market prices due to its numerous medicinal attributes.It is said to be good for management of high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.  It is locally variously called passion mwitu, parachichi mwitu or passion lenye tete maji. The Fruit shares many characteristic with passion other than the spikes on the skin. To establish a plot of the crop start by extracting seed from healthy looking fruits. Choose a well developed ripe fruit from the vine. Scoop-out the contents consisting of  seed and pulp, and  plant the seed in the nursery directly.      
Seed germination while growing thorn melon in Kenya may be improved by softening the seed coat. Allow the seed together with the pulp to ferment for 1 to 3days in a plastic container. The fruit seed is then thoroughly washed after which it is dried in the shade and sown as soon as possible.Improve seed germination by priming which is soaking the seed in warm water for one hour before planting while growing thorn melon in Kenya. Water the seeds using a fine mist from a hand held sprayer or watering can. Continue watering about twice a day ensuring good drainage of excess water.
While growing thorn melon in Kenya, seeds can be planted in trays or seedbed. Once germinated and having two true leaves they are transplanted to bags or bigger trays to ensure more space so that the root don't become entangled as the seedling grows. Harden off the seedlings before they are transplanted to the field by setting them out of the shade in the growing area for 2-3 days. Select vigorous seedlings free from nematodes and fungal diseases when growing thorn melon in Kenya. maturity period of growing thorn melon in Kenya  is about 4months.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Growing Stevia in Kenya:A leaf 30 times sweeter than sugar

Growing stevia in Kenya is a good backyard gardening activity for every household. This is a perfect way to reduce the household budget of sugar, as the sweetener is 30 times sweeter than sugar. Stevia herbal sugar offers sweetness minus the unhealthy effects and the sweetener is calorie free. The leaves can be used directly in tea fresh or dried. The natural leaves can also be cooked and eaten as vegetables. Stevia herbal sweetener is said to be good for all people including diabetics.

Stevia herb is native of Paraguay in South America which performs well locally. Growing Stevia in Kenya was given approval  just two years ago by the National Environment Management Authority. Stevia sweetener as an ingredient was approved by US Food and Drug Administration in 2008. Stevia herb is also nutritious and has been found to contain vitamins A and C as well as protein iron, calcium, zinc, fibre, potassium and sodium. Stevia herb contains 10-12 per cent stevioside, which can be extracted as liquid concentrate for use directly in soft drinks, beverages and in the manufacture of chewing gums.

Growing stevia in Kenya is a promising activity as the market may shoot up due increased demand for natural foods. Growing stevia in Kenya starts by planting on a raised bed at a spacing of 30cm from row to row and 20cm from plant to plant. Manure is applied at a rate of 20kg per square metre. Stevia herbal sweetener is harvested 3 months after planting, after which the crop is dried and ground into powder for use as a sweetener. Alternatively juice can be extracted and used in a similar way. Growing stevia in Kenya is likely to become a major economic activity in the near future  as more people embrace it.