Finding the right crop for you to grow is not a simple matter. With so many options out there, it’s easy for you to choose crops which can give you a headache and mess up your plans. Good news is, there are certain crops that grow easily in Kenya and have steady demands and market value. Such a crop is the Tree Tomato
The tree tomato is a shallow-rooted tree that can reach a height of 6 meters. The wood is brittle and the trees are short-lived, usually lasting from 12 to 15 years. The best variety for Kenya is Red Oratia
The tree tomato is a subtropical plant, meaning it grows very well in Kenya. The plants grow best in a lightly compacted soil with good drainage. The roots will not tolerate standing water, which may kill the tree in a matter of days. Protection from wind is essential for these shallow-rooted trees. Brittle branches are also susceptible
to winds, especially when full of fruits. Some farmers graft tree tomatoes onto bugweed (Muthakwa shrub) gives it the necessary root system and support in to tackle strong winds.
- An acre accommodates about 1,200 trees.
- Seeds need to be planted in a nursery for 54 days until they are an average height of 2-6 inches, after which you transplant them to the farm.
- During the planting stage dig holes measuring 1.5 feet deep, put the topsoil on one side and the subsoil on the other. The distance from one plant to the next should be 1metre feet and space between one row and the next should be 2 meters.
- Mix one and a half wheelbarrow of well-prepared compost manure with two spadefuls of topsoil to plant the seedlings. Leave a shallow depression in every plant for placing the mulching material.
- Only 1 foot of the tree tomato seedling should be buried while planting just enough to cover the root hairs.
- Apply mulch, and never forget to irrigate. Tree tomatoes get stressed quickly when they have no water.
To maintain healthy growth, tree tomatoes require continuous fertilization. Mix farmyard manure with water and apply as slurry and apply in the shallow depression around the plant once every two months.
- The tomato tree plants will bear fruits after 8 months. It is considered advisable to sacrifice the first year’s crop to strengthen the root system and develop the plant.
- At the fruit-bearing stage, tree tomatoes need support to prevent branches from breaking when laden with fruits.
You can get 10-20 kg of fruit per tree per year. 1 Kg of the fruit ranges between Ksh 60 – Ksh 80.
Diseases and Pests
Tree tomatoes are fairly resistant to most diseases and pests. However, its always best to use pesticides and fungicides weekly or biweekly for prevention.
Diseases that might affect Tree tomatoes are;
- Powdery mildew
- Potato virus
- Cucumber mosaic virus
Food uses and nutrition
- Can be used as a substitute for tomatoes, cut fresh in
salads served sweetened in desserts or added to spicy sauces.
- Can be made into juice.
- Eaten as a fruit.