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Passion fruits

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Passion fruit is a vigorous, climbing vine that clings by tendrils to almost any support. The vines are usually grown from seeds, cuttings and through tissue culture. The yellow passion is used as a rootstock, because it is more tolerant to frost, nematodes and fusarium wilt compared to purple passion-fruit; and the purple passion as scion.

Photo showing the rootstock and scion

For grafted vines, the scion should have grown about 25 cm and hardened. Seedlings are ready for transplanting 3 months after sowing. They normally will be around 25 – 50 cm in height and should be hardened in full sunlight for 2 months. If taller (up to 3 feet), the tops should be cut back and the plants heavily watered. The planting hole should be prepared 2 weeks before planting.

  • Depth of the planting hole should be 40cm x 40cm x 40cm
  • Spacing should be 2m x 3m between the plants and between the rows respectively.
  • The planting hole is refilled with a mixture of top soil, 1/2 a debe well rotted manure and 50g of DAP.
  • Return the mixture to the soil and fill about two thirds of the hole size
  • Place the seedling at the center of the whole with the entire ball of soil
  • Cover the seedling at exactly the same depth as it was in the polythene sleeve

planting information provided by JKUAT Enterprises

You will need nails, barbed wire and poles to construct the support to suspend the vines and immediately after transplanting. The poles are placed in 60 cm deep holes at a spacing of 6m. The wire is fixed tightly on top of each post in the row.

T-trellies for supporting the vines

Training passion fruit

  • Head back the seedlings at, shortly before or after transplanting to force the development of laterals.
  • Allow 2-4 lateral shoots to grow and prune off the rest.
  • These shoots may be tied to stakes about the height of the wire to provide support.
  • 1-2 of the lateral shoots are trained to grow in one direction of the trellis wire, while the others are trained to grow in the opposite direction


Pruning is necessary to keep the vines within bounds, to make harvest easier and to keep the plants productive by maintaining vigorous growth. Prune off all shoots that develop below the wire. Prune all tertiary shoots in excess of what is required for fruit production. The tertiary shoots, which bear fruits, must be allowed to hang down freely.

Photo showing shoots with fruits

Fertilizer program

Apply plant nutrients depending on demand and as guided by soil and plant analysis results. Organic fertilizer is good for soil amendments and nutrient supply and should always be incorporated into the soil during planting. Phosphate fertilizer is good for proper root development and should be put depending on the fertility of the soil. CAN is an excellent source for nitrogen which is readily available to plants due to its solubility and therefore should be used to sustain vegetative and reproductive growth.


Regular watering will keep a vine flowering and fruiting almost continuously. Water requirement is high when fruits are approaching maturity. If the soil is dry, fruits may shrivel and fall prematurely. Adequate moisture is required to sustain vegetative growth and production. Irrigation is very necessary where and when rainfall is insufficient.

Harvesting and yields

Passion fruit vines start to flower 5 – 6 months after transplanting. Harvesting commences about 8 months after transplanting. Fruits should never be plucked from the vines. They will quickly turn from green to deep purple (or yellow) when ripe and then fall to the ground within a few days. They can either be picked when they change color or gathered from the ground each day. Fruit collection should be done at least 2 times a week. To store passion fruit, wash and dry them gently and place them in bags. It takes around 2-3 months for the second harvest to take place and the life span of the plant varies from between 3-6 years. Annual average yield is about 13-20 tonnes

provided by JKUAT Enterprises

Pests and Diseases

Purple passion fruit is particularly susceptible to nematodes, while the yellow passion fruit is more nematode resistant. Passions are also affected by Fusarium and other diseases that thrive in cool soils. Nematodes are partially responsible for the short life of many passion fruit vines.


Management practices for excellent fruit seedlings performance

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  • Always maintain the correct planting depth
  • Planting holes should be dug 2-4 weeks before planting the seedlings. This is the right time to take soil samples for analysis so that you get advised on the fertilizer regime to observe for your crop
  • For grafted seedlings, remove the grafting tape 2 weeks after planting.
  • Ensure that the plants are watered regularly. It’s safer to have a watering schedule to avoid seedlings from drying
  • Mulch to conserve moisture
  • Give fertilizers often to your seeds
  • Scouting for pests and diseases should be done regularly to check for pests and disease symptoms

How to grow Watermelon

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Watermelon is a round fruit with a hard rind.

Watermelon fruit

There are two types of watermelon seeds. These are open pollinated and hybrid melons. Seeds for open pollinated varieties are produced from self fertilization of flowers of one variety.  Hybrids are a result of cross pollination and they have better yields. Buy the seeds from a trusted and certified source.

Space – Water melon requires lots of space

Water- Water melon requires a lot of water and lots of nutrients. Have a stable source of water and soil rich in nutrients. You add nutrients to the soil by adding organic matter.

Enough sun- Water melon requires lots of sun. They do not cope well with extremely hot conditions though. Humid and soggy conditions are the best conditions for fungal diseases and these will wipe out the melon in no time. Temperatures of between 20 degrees-25 degrees are best to grow and ripen a watermelon.

Planting of watermelon.

Start the water melon seeds in the ground, right where they are supposed to grow. They do not like transplanting and so not necessary to put the seeds in a nursery bed. Put enough manure to the soil before planting and plough to mix well with the soil. 1 table spoon of DAP should be put in every hole and properly mixed with the soil to make sure that the fertilizer doesn’t burn the seed. DAP contains phosphorus and helps the crop with root development.  Always fertilize the soils after every three to four weeks with CAN which helps to fix nitrogen in the soil. Watermelon fruit grow well in soils with alkaline pH. It is therefore wise to add lime to the soil to maintain an alkaline pH. This tough should be done at intervals of 3years. Watermelon germinates in 7 days and the first fruits are seen from day 30.

First fruit at day 30


Plant the watermelon seed with a spacing of 2m between rows and 1m between the holes where the seeds are to be planted. If there is not enough rainfall, water regularly to keep the soil moist. It is best to have a watering schedule if using irrigation because the fruit becomes stressed when the pattern changes and this affects the fruit development and the spray program.


It is important to weed the land to remove weeds that compete for water and nutrients with the plant. It can be done the 2nd or 3rd week after germination using herbicides or steel (jembe).

Maturity- Watermelon matures between 80-100 days. In order to determine if the fruit is ready for harvest, turn the melon to see if it has a yellow patch on the part where it lies on the ground with. If it is difficult to pass though your finger nail into the melon, it is as well ready for harvest and you can even cut one and confirm if mature. They are ready for harvest when mature.

A watermelon harvest at day 90

Control of pests and diseases.

The major diseases of watermelon are the leaf spot, dumping off, powdery mildew and blight. Beetles, mites, leaf miners and thrips. Dumping off is a fungal disease that causes seeds to rot before they germinate. Spider mites are serious pests of watermelons especially during hot, dry weather and they feed on the plants sap and can defoliate vines in a few weeks. Leaf miners cause injuries to the leaves resulting to destruction of the leaf tissues. Thrips are insects which invade the flowers and feed on plant juices are visible to the naked eye.

Always use recommended fungicides, insecticides and herbicides and these are available in the local agrovets. Read the label and follow instructions. This will not only protect your plant, but it will also protect your health and the environment. Apply the chemicals using the appropriate equipment at the recommended application rate. The labels should provide information on recommended use, ingredients, mode of action, and formulation of the product.

Growing Outdoor Capsicums (Pilipili-Hoho)

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Capsicums (locally called pilipili hoho) are a hardy type of plant. It is rarely attacked by diseases or pests though it still needs proper preventive care. It does best in hot areas the likes of Kangundo and the greater Eastern Province, Coastal region, temperate central areas etc.


Let’s look at it from the nursery. You can make Sunken or Raised nurseries though most farmers prefer sunken nurseries because they retain water more than raised nurseries. After sowing the seeds, it will take about 2-3 weeks for them to germinate. Capsicums will be ready for transplanting within 6 weeks.

When making the nursery, add a small amount of totally dry goat/cow manure and mix it well with the top soil. It is usually good to mix the cow and goat manure. Adding manure on the nursery ensures a strong and healthy seedling hence a healthy capsicum (pilipili hoho) when transplanted.

 Pilipili hoho (capsicum) nursery

Above is a capsicum nursery. As seen above, make sure the distance between the rows is about 1.5 inches. This will help leave enough space for watering and spraying

On spraying, if mornings are too cold, spray the nursery with a mild mix of mildew preventive herbicide. Do not spray anything else on the nursery; remember the seedlings are too weak for any strong sprays or fertilizers.


As usual, transplant in the evenings though this can also be done during the day with no adverse effects. One day before transplanting, harden the capsicum seedlings by reducing frequency of watering gradually, don’t do it abruptly. On the day of transplanting, wet the nursery enough to wet the soil and allow easy uprooting of the pilipili hoho seedling from the nursery without damaging the roots.

Have the farm field irrigated before planting to allow easy planting (see image below).

Irrigated Furrows

Planting on the farm field is done on wet furrows by pressing the seedling down with your index finger deep enough – roughly one inch

Utilizing the furrows

The photo above shows how to utilize space on the furrows that you make. Plant the seedlings on both sides of each furrow. Make sure the capsicum seedlings are planted close to the floor of the furrow to make sure the plant has maximum uptake of irrigated water.

The above seedlings are about a week old since transplanting.

First 2-3 Capsicum leaves dropping off 

Note that the just transplanted capsicums will loose the first 2-3 leaves, just like kid loosing milk teeth J . So it should not worry you if you see the plants loosing the 2-3 bottom leaves like on the above picture. Notice the 1st and 2nd bottom leaves are browning and will drop off.

Diseases and Pests:

Below are just but a few diseases and pests…

  • Early/Late Blight (farmers call it “baridi” in swahili)

This makes the leaves start folding up. That means less photosynthesis, hence a poor fruit and crop. At the end, low harvest.

  • Spider Mites attack:

These are very small red mites. They mostly survive in hot weather and under intense heat and windy conditions can quickly multiply and spread even to nearby farms. During dry weather farmers can spend lots of money on sprays to prevent or cure spider mite attacks.

Note that spider mites can be extensively destructive, clearing a whole crop at any stage. They are a big headache to a farmer.

  • Thrips attack:

These mostly attack the flowers. They are less sited on capsicums but it is good to always spend some time hunting for them weekly. You will have to sample quite a number of flowers across the field. Hold the flower carefully and look inside for any insects.

  • White Flies Attack:

For White Flies, you can sight them early in the morning by tapping on the crops. You will see them flying off in big numbers. They have little effect on the crop.

They mostly come around during the rainy and cold seasons.


Fruiting and Harvest

The fruits never touch the wet furrows and hence fruit harvest maximization. Pilipili hoho can really be loaded with fruits as seen below

Loaded Capsicum plant 

Below are some more fruits of capsicum plant

Some capsicum fruits 

 And the crop in the field

 Capsicum (pilipili hoho) in the field

Keep the harvest in one place under a shade and then sort. Avoid direct sunlight otherwise you will end up with many rejects due to sun burns.

harvest capsicum 

Sort them into sacks or any other packaging material depending on your market request.

 harvest in sack