Soursop known as “Ekitafeli” in Luganda, is not a common plant and few people grow it in their compounds. It also has different other names depending on the location.
The tree grows up to three to 10 metres high. It can be used as a shade tree in the compound. The tree produces thorny-like green fruits.
How to plant soursop
Cuttings are the easiest and the most satisfactory method of growing “Ekitafeli”. Cuttings preferably from two-year-old trees should be used.
Henry Sebuliba, an agronomist who owns three soursop trees at his home, says cut straight twigs 8 to 10 inches at a time when the tree is dormant.
Place the cuttings in a rooting hormone, and then in well-prepared potting soil.
Proper planting is one of the important steps in successfully bringing up a soursop tree.
He says a soursop will grow in wide variety of soils from sandy to clay loams, but it prefers deep soil with good aeration.
Good drainage is necessary for good root development, and especially to avoid problems of root diseases.
Sebuliba says few people know that a soursop has health benefits such as boosting the immune system and relieving pain.
Isam Kabungu, a landscaper in Kampala, says the plant is also propagated from seeds, which are sown in seedbeds or seed boxes. However, he advises people to wash the seeds before they are planted.
Sebuliba says soursop should be planted about 2cm apart and 1cm deep. To thrive well, one should provide shade and keep the seedbed or seed box moist by watering it regularly.
According to Sebuliba, the seeds will germinate within 15 to 30 days.
Alice Nakibalama, who sells the fruits to several people, says those who know the soursop really like it. The fruit has an inner cream coloured, fragrant, juicy, and an edible pulp.
According to Sebuliba, the fruits do not get ripe at the same time.
Nakibalama says the best soursop comes from northern Uganda. Each basket at wholesale is sold at sh20,000
Sebuliba says seedlings are out-planted from seedbeds or seed boxes when they are about six to eight months old. When preparing the garden, one should dig ditches 50cm wide and 50cm deep for the seedlings.
Soursop produces its first fruits within three to five years of planting. Sebuliba also says it needs a well-drained rich sandy soils, full sunlight and average watering, although it is a drought-tolerant tree.
When ripe, the soursop changes colour from green to a yellowish-green. If harvested raw, it will take four to five days to ripen.
How to harvest soursop fruits
Harvest should be done when the colour lightens, and changes to slightly yellowish-green.
The unripe dark green fruit is covered with an inedible skin with spines.
Pests and diseases
According to Sebuliba, its common diseases are root rot and anthracnose. These can be treated using fungicides.
Soursop is usually attacked by pests such as mealy bugs, scale insects and fruitflies. Use pesticides to treat the plant.