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Have An Orchard At Home

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Ssalongo Ssenteza Ssentamu, 90, cannot have a meal without home-made juice. He accompanies every meal with a glass of passion juice mixed with star fruit, pawpaw or pomegranate.

This, he says, is the secret to his good health.

Ssenteza has always grown a variety of fruits in his backyard.

“I am aware of the nutritional values of fruit juice. Fruits are low in calories and rich in fibre which help in digestion.”

He reveals that due to old age, he developed constipation whenever he ate matooke or sweet potatoes. However, this problem stopped when he started taking fruit juice every day. Most people ignore fruit even when they are capable of growing some in their homes.

Growing fruits for home consumption however small your garden is, could help you save money and be a source of a good diet. While it takes some time for the plants to begin bearing fruit, you will be rewarded with a bountiful supply in the long run.

The development of dwarf and semi-dwarf trees will make it possible for anyone with an average sized yard to enjoy planting their own fruit trees.

He says: “It is advisable to plant a variety of fruits that ripen at different times. In so doing, you have a supply of fruit all year round.”

How to get started

Many home owners have limited space for gardening. To plan your gardening space, consider the various options of close-tree planting in your backyard. For instance, instead of having one plant in a hole, consider having two to four fruit plants in the same hole.

Decide on what type of fruit tree you want to grow and for better yields consider cross pollinating different fruits.

Plant two or more fruit trees close to each other. Cross pollination will ensure a genetic variety of fruits and leads to new fruit varieties.

Plant seedlings 12ft to 16ft apart to allow enough space for the matured drooping and bushy branches.

Once you have decided on the fruit you want to plant, get seeds and plant them in a nursery.

Set up a nursery bed about six inches deep. Site the bed where the plants will be able to get the morning sun but where they will be protected from the afternoon sun.

When the plants mature and need to be transplanted, do the transplanting in the evening away from the scortching sun. As you wait for your fruit tree to mature, maintain a layer of mulch around the base of the tree, fertilise the area with any lawn fertiliser and protect its tender, emerging branches from weeds and animals.

Once your tree begins to bear fruit, occasionally spray and prune out some branches, as fruits that grow closely in clusters will not reach a good size.

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