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Benefits of Growing Your Own Fruits

Benefits for you and your family:

  • Fresh and nutritious fruits. Fruits from your own garden are higher in nutrients than the ones that have traveled several thousand miles to get to your grocery store.
  • Having your children assist you in the garden can increase the chance that they will eat more of the fruits and vegetables they have helped to grow.
  • Growing your own fruits can offer you the opportunity to reduce the amount of pesticides that you use in your garden, making them healthier.
  • Growing your own fruits will save your money at the grocery store.
  • Gardening increases physical activity. It is a great way to engage the whole family in physical activity and lets them help to take responsibility for the garden.
  • The fruits grown in your garden will promote health because they are rich in nutrients, especially in phytochemicals, anti-oxidants, vitamin C, vitamin A and folate.
  • Gardening gives you’re a real sense of appreciation when you can see the bounty of your efforts.
  • Growing a garden gives you a new appreciation for nature, when you can have the opportunity to see how things grow.
  • Gardening may stimulate many new interests. You may want to learn more about botany, landscape architecture, photography, nutrition, and farmer’s markets.
  • Gardening gives you the opportunity to give back. If you have an abundant garden, you might give some of your produce to the local soup kitchen or food bank.
  • This can be a great time to create memories with your children, memories that can last a lifetime.
  • Your garden can lead to new skills, and knowledge for you and your family, your child may have a new found interest to become a farmer!

Society and Community

  • Gardens can foster a great sense of community through parent to parent connections, teacher to student or student to student.
  • Schools and community may decide to build a community or school garden. This is a tremendous learning tool for all involved as well a providing a source of nutritious fruits
  • A community/school garden can help to foster and motivate future leaders (e.g., 4-H afterschool programs).
  • Neighborhood Community Gardens beautify landscape, support local farmers, can create a food secure community where residents do not need to rely on vendors to supply fresh produce.

Environment

Tall fruit trees provide shade.

  • You can use less pesticides or use natural pesticides and this will be less contamination to the environment.
  • Produce peels and waste can create a lot of green waste and takes up a lot of space in the garbage can. Recycle them to make your own compost. It is less expensive than buying fertilizers.
  • Turn unsightly lands into attractive landscapes.
  • Get creative. There is a potential to grow an innovative gardens like futuristic horticulture gardens that are very cost-effective and require substantially less space.

If you’ve got a bit of empty space on your farm, growing a fruit tree is a good way to fill it and still get a passive income- beehives are a similar option, but you can surround a grown tree with beehives for kicks.

Investing in more fruit trees will make them more worthwhile, definitely- the combined benefit of many fruits is always going to be more apparently valuable for the time you spend interacting with the tree every few days. Even ignoring the quality level gain of a fruit tree and placing some kegs or preserves jars right next to your trees can boost the profits you’re seeing from your tree without much extra effort, or you could keep them around as a guarantee of some portable energy consumables during a given season.

Start exploring today!! Book seedlings today!

 

 

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WHY YOU SHOULD PLANT AN ORANGE-TREE FRUIT TODAY

Sweet and juicy to taste, orange is one of the most popular fruits in Kenya as well as the world. Belonging to a group of citrus fruits called hesperidium, oranges have more health benefits than one. Here are the top 10 health benefits of the fruit that Kenyans ignore.

  • Boosts your immunity- A single orange can meet more than 100% of your daily requirement of Vitamin C. This vital nutrient helps improve your immunity, keeping you free from diseases and infections. Here are some more immunity boosting foods.
  • Good for your skin- As we grow older, our skin along with other body parts suffers from free radical damage. This process is like how metals rust after exposure to air.  Even though it is inevitable, oranges are packed with antioxidants and Vitamin C which slows down the process and makes you look younger than your age! Besides oranges, you can eat these fruits and vegetables for glowing skin!
  • Great for your eyes- Along with our skin, our eyes too suffer from damage as we grow older. Oranges are rich in nutrients like Vitamin A, Vitamin C and potassium which are great for your eyes. So, if you want your vision to be just as good as it is now, eat an orange every day!
  • Prevents heart disease-One of the reasons why people get heart disease is because their arteries are blocked due to unhealthy lifestyles and consumption of junk food. Oranges have flavonoids like hesperidin which reduces cholesterol and prevents your arteries from getting blocked. This, in turn protects you from heart attack and various other cardiovascular diseases. Alternatively, you could try these 8 natural cholesterol busters.

Also Read: Regaining Kenya’s passion fruit farming

  • Helps in brain development- Folate and folic acid present in oranges promote brain development and keep the vital organ in mint condition. In fact, these nutrients also make orange a healthy fruit for pregnant woman as it prevents the baby from having neurological disorders later.
  • Prevents cancer- Having cancer can be a tough and harrowing experience for both the patient and the caregiver. Research has shown that a compound called D – limonene present in oranges can prevent various types of cancer like lung cancer, breast cancer, skin cancer, etc. Additionally, the antioxidants and Vitamin C help promote the body’s immunity which helps in fighting cancer cells. Here are some food habits to keep cancer at bay.

  • Keeps you free from stomach ulcers-Oranges are a very good source of fiber which helps keep your stomach and intestines healthy. A diet rich in fiber will ensure that you are not affected with ailments like stomach ulcers and constipation.
  • Protects your vision-Oranges also contain very good levels of vitamin A, and other flavonoid antioxidants such as alpha and beta-carotenes, beta-cryptoxanthin, zea-xanthin and lutein. These compounds are known to have antioxidant properties. Vitamin A is also required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin and is essential for vision. Consumption of natural fruits rich in flavonoids helps the body to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
  • Great for diabetics-People who have diabetes are unable to absorb glucose since the beta-cells present in their pancreas either fail to produce insulin or the body’s cells are unable to respond to the insulin produced. Oranges are high in fiber and have a high glycemic index which makes it a good food option for diabetics. Also, worth mentioning is that good oranges have a sweet taste, and since diabetics aren’t allowed to eat sweets or other sugary foods, they can eat oranges to tingle their taste buds.
  • Prevents hair loss-Orange has high Vitamin C content which is required for producing collagen which, in turn, is responsible for keeping the tissues in your hair together. Nobody likes bald patches on their head, and eating oranges can ensure that you do not have to part with your lovely hair as you grow older.

How better can you get an orange than getting it from your farm, grow your oranges today by buying grafted seedlings from Oxfarm Organic Ltd. Visit our offices today or contact us.

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PEST AND DISEASE MANAGEMENT IN MANGO FARMING IN KENYA

In organic farming systems, preventive methods based on proper crop and habitat management are encouraged. Direct methods of control are reserved for emergencies only. Synthetic insecticides and fungicides are not allowed in organic mango production. The most destructive mango pests are the mango seed weevil and the mango fruit fly, common nearly in all mango producing areas.

ants on a mango
  • Mango seed weevil (Sternochetus mangiferae)

Mango seed weevil, also called the mango stone weevil, is one of the major pests of mangoes in sub-Saharan Africa. The larva, which is the damaging stage of the pest, enters the fruit by burrowing through the flesh into the seeds, where it feeds until pupation, destroying the seed. Early attack (when the fruit is forming) leads to premature fruit fall. If the attacks occur at a later stage, fruit infestation is very difficult to detect, since there are no external signs of infestation. When the adult emerges, it tunnels through the flesh, leaving a hole in the fruit skin which may serve as an entry point for secondary fungal infections, greatly affecting the quality of the fruit. This is particularly a problem because, in many instances, weevil attack remains undetected in the field, and is first noticed in storage or when cutting the fruit.

The weevil spreads into clean areas through the movement of infested fruit for propagation or consumption. It can, however, be managed by:

  • Continuous monitoring to ensure timely intervention is important, for instance, a weevil attack can be detected by monitoring for egg-laying marks on young fruit. Regular fruit scouting is important to detect adult activity during fruit growth.
  • Ensuring good orchard sanitation by collecting and destroying all scattered mango seeds and fallen fruit. All collected fruit and seeds should be buried deeply (about 50 cm deep).
  • Ensuring orchard quarantine by restricting movement of fruit from old orchards or areas known to have mango seed weevils to areas where young orchards, free of seed weevil, have been established.
  • Applying sticky bands at the upper end of tree trunks when the trees start flowering to reduce migration of weevils to branches for egg laying.
  • Mango fruit flies (Bactrocera invadens)

Female fruit flies puncture the fruit skin and lay eggs that develop into maggots (larvae) in the flesh of the fruit after hatching. The larvae feed on the fruit and cause it to drop prematurely and destroy the pulp of the fruit. Generally the fruit falls to the ground as, or just before, the maggots pupate. In fruit for export, fruit flies cause indirect losses resulting from quarantine restrictions that are imposed by importing countries to prevent introduction of fruit flies. Nearly all fruit fly species are quarantine pests. Fruit flies attack soft, fleshy fruit of a wide variety of fruit and vegetables. Management strategies of fruit flies include:

  • Continuous monitoring of fruit flies to determine when they arrive in the orchard and to decide when treatment is needed. Monitoring can be done using bait traps like the ‘bucket trap’ (Also see transparency 4-18). The farmer should, however, be able to identify fruit flies from among other trapped insects. Pheromone traps are also available to attract male fruit flies, hence reducing reproducing populations.
  • Orchard sanitation is important as poorly managed or abandoned orchards can result in buildup of fruit fly populations. All fruit with dimples and oozing, clear sap should regularly (e.g. twice a week for the entire season) be removed from the tree as well as all rotten fruit from the ground. The maggots are killed by burning or tying collected fruit in black plastic bags and exposing them to the heat of the sun for some hours. The fruit can also be buried deep, at least 50 cm (about two feet), to prevent emerging adult flies from reaching the soil surface.
  • Several natural enemies can contribute to the suppression of fruit flies. Major natural enemies are parasitic wasps (e.g. Bracon spp.) that attack the maggots of fruit flies and predators such as rove beetles, weaver ants, spiders, and birds and bats. In particular, weaver ants have been shown to be very efficient in protecting fruit trees from pests, including fruit flies. These ants pray on fruit flies, but most importantly, their presence and foraging activity hinders the fruit flies from laying eggs, resulting in reduced fruit fly damage, as shown in mango orchards in Benin. Although natural enemies alone do not give satisfactory control of fruit flies, efforts should be made to protect them, and to complement their effect on fruit flies with other management options. Dill, parsley, yarrow, zinnia, clover, alfalfa, parsley, cosmos, sunflower and marigold are flowering crops that attract the native wasp populations and provide good habitats for them. African Organic Agriculture Training Manual Module 09 Crops Unit 22 Mango 11 ­ ­ Mango fruit fly damage.
Mango rose flower beetle.
  • Biopesticides such as a spray pyrethrum solution is effective in controlling fruit flies. Other plant extracts like neem, garlic, chilli and tephrosia can also be used. The biopesticides can also kill beneficial insects like bees if they are sprayed directly. Therefore, it is best to spray in the evenings after most of the bees are back in their hives (after 6 pm).
  • Bagging prevents fruit flies from laying eggs on the fruit (See also transparency 4-19). In addition, the bag provides physical protection from mechanical injuries (scars and scratches). Although laborious, it is cheap, safe and gives a more reliable estimate of the projected harvest. Bagging not only protects fruit from fruit fly damage, but protects the fruit from physical damage improving the market appearance of the fruit. However, it is only practicable on small trees. Other common pests of mangoes include scales, mealy bugs, aphids and mango flies.
  • Scales suck the plant sap. Feeding by scales may cause yellowing of leaves followed by leaf drop, poor growth, dieback of branches, fruit drop and blemishes on fruit. Heavily infested young trees may die. In addition, soft scales excrete honeydew, causing growth of sooty mould. In heavy infestations, fruit and leaves are heavily coated with sooty mould, turning black.
  • Mealy bugs (Rastrococcus invadens) suck sap from the leaves, branches, flowers and fruit. They excrete honeydew that develops into black sooty mould.
  • Whiteflies and Blackflies (Aleurocanthus woglumi) can also be regulated through the beneficial insects. They suck sap from leaves and may weaken the plants when numbers are high. They excrete large amount of honeydew where sooty mould develops. High numbers of these insects can almost blacken trees, reducing photosynthesis and may cause leaf drop. >
  • Mango Aphids (Toxoptera odinae) live in clusters sucking sap on the underside of young leaves, on petioles, young branches and fruit. Their feeding causes slight rolling, or twisting of the leaf midrib. Sooty mould growing on honeydew produced by the aphids may cover leaves, twigs and fruit, reducing its market value.

These are all sucking insects that live on leaves, young branches and buds and can cause great damage. However, all of them have natural enemies such as lady beetle larva, wasps, spiders and parasitic fungi. Therefore, improving diversity, by planting wild flower strips in the orchard and hedge rows, will enhance the beneficial insects. By wrapping a smooth, slippery plastic band around the trunk or any sticky substance will also restrict the movement of the mobile pests. In case of heavy infestation it is possible to control by spraying a 1 % soap solution with 1 % pure alcohol, with an application of paraffin oil (white oil) as a 3 % water emulsion or with a plant extract of neem or other botanicals.

Most diseases of mango are caused by either fungi or bacteria. The first preventive measure is, therefore, to obtain healthy vegetative propagation material free of these infections.

  • Anthracnose is caused by the fungus Collectrichum gloeosporioides and is the most common disease of mango, especially in regions that have high rainfall and heavy dews. It affects leaves, stems and floral panicle, but the fruit receive the most damage. The fungus causes brown spots on leaves and black spots on fruit and flowers and makes the young branches brittle. The infestation can be reduced if dead material (branches, leaves and infested fruit) is removed from the orchard. After harvest, anthracnose can be controlled if the fruit is given a water bath for 3 to 5 minutes at 55° C.
  • Bacterial infection with Erwinia spp. can infect the stem, branches, flowers and young fruit. The symptoms are similar to the spots on the fruit and leaves as in anthracnose. These bacteria can survive in the soil. When it rains, the bacteria spores get under the leaves and fruit through rain splash (when soil particles get pushed into the air on contact with raindrops). Cover crops reduce rain splash, thus reducing the infestation of the leaves and fruit. An active and living soil can also reduce bacterial multiplication because Erwinia spp. does not explosively propagate in soil.

  • Powdery mildew (Oidium mangiferae) can damage young fruit and flowers. This fungus appears mostly in warm, humid weather (temperature of 22° C and relative humidity of 65 %). In severe attacks, the entire blossom panicle may be involved and fruit fail to set (affecting yields). An open, well-ventilated and faster drying orchard that is regularly pruned hinders the mildew infestation.
  • Leaf spot disease (Cercospora mangiferae) – causes spots on leaves and fruit. An open, well-ventilated and well-drained orchard is the best preventive measure against Cercospora infestation. Infested fruit is not marketable.
    leaf mango spot

    African Organic Agriculture Training Manual Module 09 Crops Unit 22 Mango 13 ­ ­ ­ ­ Handling mangoes for marketing of fresh fruit Discussion on postharvest handling Inquire among the farmers how they commonly utilize mangoes. Do they sell to the fresh fruit market, dry the fruit or produce pulp or juice? Discuss for all uses what the best harvest time is and how postharvest handling is best managed. In acute cases, mildew, anthracnose and leaf spot diseases can be regulated with sulphur or copper preparations, which are allowed in organic farming. However, in case of certified organic mango production, the farmers should consult their certification body for guidance before applying any of those preparations.

 

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Mango varieties in kenya

Francis

Francis has a deliciously spicy and sweet taste. The flesh has fibers but is very soft and juicy. Francis is Bright yellow in color with green overtones and flaunts an elongated and sigmoid S-shape. Owing to the fibrous flesh, Francis may not be a popular choice for salads, but it finds great use in chutneys due to its tangy flavor.

 

 

 

Glenn

Glenn is an excellent choice among various varieties of mango. It has a sweet, silky and peachy flavor and an exotic odor which make it popular among mango lovers. Glenn mangoes are a little red or pink in color and oval to oblong in shape.

 

 

 

Kent Mangoe

The Kent mangos feature a sweet and delicious taste which is further enhanced by their juicy flesh which has a limited number of fibers. Due to their texture and flavor, Kent mangos are ideal for juicing and drying and also find uses in baking (they make for a great mango bread recipe!). Kent mangos are dark green having a dark red blush over a small portion of the fruit. The fruit itself is large and oval in shape.

 

 

 

Madame Francique

also known as “Dessert Mango” owing to its great use in desserts. This variety features varying colors from light green to orange to slightly yellow. Madame Francique is known for its rich, sweet and spicy taste which is rare and tangy but exceptionally brilliant.

 

 

 

 

Ataulfo

The vibrant yellow Ataulfo with a sweet and creamy flavor is every mango lover’s absolute favorite. Ataulfo has smooth, firm flesh with no fibers making it easier to use in salads or just consume on its own. This kind of mango is small and oval in shape.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tommy Atkins

They have a mildly sweet flavor with firm, stringy and fibrous flesh. Tommy Atkins have different shades going on their medium to large oval bodies. The most prominent of them is the dark red blush which covers most of the fruit.

 

 

 

Valencia Pride

A child variety originating from Haden mangos, the Valencia Pride also finds its roots in Florida. First reported Valencia Pride fruit was produced in 1941. This variety is large and the skin is covered with a large red blush while some yellow hues also find their way around it. Valencia Pride is a fibreless variety and has a smooth, melting, juicy texture along with a mouthwatering odor which makes it a premium choice.

 

 

Keitt

It is enjoyed both when fully ripe and green and also as pickles when not fully grown. Keitt mangos have a sweet and fruity flavor with firm, juicy flesh having only a limited amount of fibers. Keitt mangos are dark to medium green often with a pink blush over a small portion of the mango. The keitt mangos are vast and oval in shape.

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Establishing a tree fruit orchard in Kenya

Establishing an orchard for your tree fruits

Where to plant your fruit trees is an important consideration when starting your orchard. Ideally you want good drainage, good soil, plenty of sunshine (fruiting trees require a minimum of 6-8 hours of sun per day during the growing season), and good air flow. You want your trees to be wind protected and try to avoid low-lying sites. A slope is the best location, if you have one. Fertile soils with a depth of  more than 1.5 meters and pH range of 5.8–6.6 are ideal for growing fruit trees.

Dig large holes before planting fruit trees. The tree holes need to be large enough to accommodate the root system, a 2 feet diameter is a good measurement. Mix well with the existing soil and good quality compost. Mulching and composting are an important part of the orchard.

The proposed orchard’s site has to be cleared as thoroughly as possible of perennial weeds, undergrowth, trees, stumps, roots, trash and debris. This should be followed by levelling of unwanted anthills and the elimination of their destructive inhabitants. To achieve a good tilth of the cleared land, fruit growers are advised to plant an annual crop a year before starting fruit cultivation. After this annual crop has been harvested, the final re-ploughing, harrowing and levelling is carried out.

 

Selection of suitable fruit species/cultivars

The choice of suitable fruit species and cultivars to grow is one of the most important prerequisites for successful fruit farming. A cultivar must be adapted to the environmental conditions of the locality in which it is to be grown, and there should be a good market demand for it. For many fruits there is an extended list from which to choose.

  • Mangoes (Kent, Tommy, Ngowe and apple varieties) @150
    Hass avocados/fuerte @150
    Oranges @150
    Muthakwa grafted tree tomatoes @100
    Apples @400
    Lime @150
    Lemons@100
    Tangerines @150
    Macadamia @400
    Grafted purple passion fruits @70
    Aplicot @300
    Pepino melons @100
    Tissue culture bananas @250
    Guavas @100
    Plums @400
    Peaches @300
    Pomegranates @300
    kiwi @800
    Pawpaw @50
    Grapes @250