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August 22, 2019
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Soursop for restful ZZZ

Soursop tree seedling.

It happens to everyone! We can all relate to those nights where we need to sleep but for some reason we just cannot. A restless night can significantly throw off your next day making you irritable and lower your productivity.

The next time you’re experiencing trouble to fall into a deep slumber, don’t resort to sleeping tablets. Try fresh soursop tea.

Soursop (Annona muricata) has grown in significance due to its anti-inflammatory properties, respiratory disease control and cancer prevention properties. The benefits of consuming the fruit itself are vast. In addition, soursop has become a delicacy in our Caribbean cuisine.

Research studies done show that soursop leaves contain sedative compounds which enhance sleep. Allowing the fresh leaves to draw in some hot water creates the tea.

In some Caribbean countries, the fresh leaves are even placed in pillow cases. I can personally attest to the wonders of the soursop fruit and tea. As a matter of fact, after obtaining my last soursop fruit, I saved the seeds and set them in promix. Five weeks later I had enough seedlings to plant my very own soursop trees and share with family members.

For growing your own soursop tree at home, transplant your seedlings once they are over 12 inches in height. If planting multiple trees, plant them 12 to 15 feet apart from each other.

Water the seedling to keep the soil moist but not too damp. Apply a 10-10-10 fertiliser every three to four months. Mulch the tree annually and prune regularly.

If you live in an area where fruit flies are major pests, when the soursop fruit starts to bear, enclose the fruit on the tree with a blue or clear fruit plastic bag (available at any agro store) to ensure that the fruit flies do not lay their eggs. Growing your tree at home also gives you the benefit of having a bountiful supply of fresh leaves whenever you may need them.

Send questions to

Can I boil it like bhagi?

Q: I have a sweet potato plant growing in my back yard garden and it is taking over! What I would like to know is if the leaves and vine can be cooked like bhagi? —Monica

Hi Monica. Thanks for your email. I’m happy to hear that you are growing sweet potatoes but sorry about its takeover.

There is a technique that you can use to still have your sweet potato crop and save space. You can take the vines and create circles similar to wrapping a hose into its wheel. The vine is strong enough for this.

You can even take a metal or wooden stake and insert it into the ground and wrap the vines gently around it. As it continues to grow, you can continue wrapping them. I really do hope this helps.

I have never seen or heard of anyone consuming the leaves but the sweet potato grows via a slip (a cutting of the vine). You can share the slips with neighbours or any farmers nearby.

You can even produce the slips for yourself and grow the sweet potato commercially. The fact that your sweet potatoes are growing so well indicates that you have excellent soils in your backyard. —Rayanna

Help to make sweet potatoes grow

Q: I planted some sweet potato in June. It’s my first time trying. Can you tell me what nutrients I need to give it at this point? —Roma

Hi, Roma. I’m happy to hear that you are growing sweet potatoes. I hope that you have other crops in your garden as well.

For fertilising your potatoes, the best suited soils are sandy, which are normally of low or moderate fertility. High nitrogen levels can lead to excessive vine growth and poor tuber development.

High levels of potash have been reported to give good results, which aid in tuber development and shape. It is recommended to supply 250 – 500 kg/ha of 12:8:16 at planting (incorporated into the soil). Fertiliser application is usually split into two. The first is at planting and the other at 5 or 6 weeks after planting.

I’ll send you a production manual that you can use as a guide for the full growth cycle until harvest for your sweet potatoes. Please feel free to send any more questions and even pictures of your harvest. Good luck and God’s richest blessings. —Rayanna