How do I go about passion fruit seeds? Irene Nakitende

Dear Irene
Passion fruits are very profitable if well-handled from the seed. The following steps will help achieve the best from the climbing plant.
• Planting materials starts with seed extraction.
• Healthy mature fruits are collected from parent plants and seeds are scooped from the fruits.
• The extracted seeds are put in water for about three days to ease the separation of seed and pulp.
• The seeds are then dried under shade and later stored in a cool dry and dark place to avoid loss of viability.
• The seeds are later planted in a prepared seed bed or you can as well plant them into six centimetres wide bags filled with sterilised soil.
• Sterilisation can be easily achieved by using steam and this is mainly aimed at killing parasites.
• You might however want to graft them. Here, get seedlings of yellow passion fruit type (root stock), let them grow until they are at least 50cm high and 3-4 mm thick (pencil size).
• Then select healthy seedlings with dark green leaves for grafting.
• Collect cuttings from healthy high yielding type vines of purple passion fruits preferably when plants have flowered.
Answered by Mike Ssegawa Ssali agronomist

I have been told that part of my tomato garden has been affected by Tuta Absoluta, what is it and how can I prevent it from spreading to the rest of the garden? Nicholas Musoke

Dear Nicholas

Tuta absoluta is a very harmful leaf mining moth, commonly known as tomato leaf miner with a strange preference for tomatoes.
Tuta absoluta can cause 50-100 per cent yield reduction on tomato garden and its presence may also limit the export of the product to several countries.
Prevention and proper management of the pest is very important to reduce on yield loss.
The chemical control often fails due to the pest’s resistance against many pesticides because part of its development takes place inside the plant or soil. This hinders the effectiveness of the pesticides. However, the different ways to prevent this particular pest are as below;
• Make sure the green and its direct environment are free from old plants, fruits and weeds to prevent carrying-over of the pest from the previous culture to the new crop.
• In case you have green house, prevent adults from entering the green house by closing all ventilation openings with insect netting. Also repair all holes in the plastic walls and roof material.
• If the pest occurs in hot spots, remove infested leaves or fruits with larvae and destroy it.
• Start with plants free from any stage of Tuta Absoluta. Monitor with pherodis pheromone traps in propagation area.
• Chemicals may be used to keep the pest below the economic threshold. However use chemicals at recommended dose and interval of spraying. Consult your area Agronomist to evaluate the effectiveness of agrochemicals on the market to avoid fake products and loss of money.
Answered by Dr Segawa Mike Ssali, an agronomist

Do I need to follow a specific spacing when planting coffee?

Martins Kiberu

Dear Martins

Spacing will differ depending on the type you want to plant whether Robusta or Arabica. Robusta coffee is planted at a spacing of 10ft x 10ft while Arabica is planted at 8ft x 8 ft.
The holes for both types are of 2ft x 2ft (diameter x depth) and these are dug three months before planting. This is done to enable soils loosen thus allowing better water and root penetration.
However, you should separate the top soil from sub-soil when digging the holes. The top soil is fertile and the sub soil is infertile.
A month to planting, refill the holes with top soil and mix soil with a 20-litre basin decomposed manure in each hole. Add SSP, DAP or TSP fertilizer at 75 grams (a handful) per hole if available because phosphorus is good for root development.
Cover the holes to slightly above ground level then mark position in the centre of the hole where the plant will be planted using a peg.

Answered by Moses Lumu, a coffee agronomist and consultant

How best can I plant coffee for better yields?

Martins Kiberu

Dear Martins
The following agronomy will help you achieve the best harvest;

• Plant the coffee two to four weeks after the onset of rains. But you should water the seedlings for planting in the evening before planting the next.
• On planting, open up the centre of filled holes enough to fit the entire root system of the coffee seedling then trim off twisted roots and those protruding beyond the pot.
• After, remove polythene pots before planting. Carefully loosen the soil surrounding the seedling by breaking it to ease water up take and root development.
• Gently place the plant in the opening, their collars should be at level with the surrounding soil or a bit higher to allow sinking and cover the seedling with soil and place the soil to firm the seedling.
• Put temporary shade on newly planted coffee to protect it from direct sun for its early days.
• Use materials such as palm leaves or tree brunches which do not grow and must not rest on the coffee.
• Regularly inspect the planted field to identify dead plants and replace them, intercropping and shade.
• You can intercrop with leguminous cover crops such as soybeans, groundnuts and non-climbing phaseolus beans, among others in the newly planted coffee up to two years.
• If you chose to intercrop with bananas, plant at a ratio of 4 coffee trees to one banana, (banana at 20ft x 20ft in Robusta). (16ft x 16ft in Arabica starting from the middle of 4 plants at the beginning of the garden).
You may plant semi-permanent shade of leguminous shrubs such as carriandra, Flamingia, Tephrosia between every fourth row of coffee and around the edges of the plantation.
Permanent shade trees such as Albizzia spp (Migavu), Ficus spp (Mutuba, Mucusu), and cordia Africana can be planted at a spacing of 15m x 15m or 20m x 20m.
Fruit trees such as avocado, mangoes and jackfruit can also be used. The best would be to plant shade trees before establishing coffee plantation.

Answered by Moses Lumu, a coffee agronomist and consultant.