Introducing Custard Apple
Growing Custard Apple Tree
There are two main varieties of Custard Apples. These are the Pinks Mammoth (or Hillary White) and the African Pride. These are both sweet, juicy and delicious.
Location and Soil
The plant originated in the Americas, but has been found in Timor as early as 1000 CE.
The custard apple tree thrives in the tropics as an evergreen perennial. It can be grown in the sub-tropics as well, but in colder regions it will become deciduous.
When growing, go for well-draining soil that is sandy and loamy. A mixture of sand in garden soil is best. The plant is forgiving of poor soil, but areas that become waterlogged should be avoided.
Growing from Seed
Soak the seeds in water for a day or two. Throw out those that float and remove the others and place them on newspaper or a paper towel to dry out. After drying for a week they are ready for planting.
Plant seeds 2 or 3 centimetres deep in a container of potting mix. Water and then leave in direct sunlight.
The seeds will germinate in 3 weeks or so. When your plant becomes too big for the container, plant it out into the place it will live out its life.
Trees grown from seed should crop in 4 to 6 years.
While you can easily grow from seed, grafted trees ensure the fruit quality. That is the taste, amount of seeds and size of the fruits. Grafted trees also fruit sooner than those grown from seed.
Apply a citrus fertiliser every three months until the tree begins to bear fruit. Feeding potash is done to increase flowering.
Regular fertilising of mature trees is not common, but when done it is known to increase longevity and slow the decline of trees.
Pruning Custard Apple Trees
Pruning your custard apple tree serves a number of purposes. It can help to restore the centre of gravity to a tree that is leaning (you can also stake young trees to help with this).
Pruning can also keep your tree a manageable size for an urban environment and make fruit production more prolific. It can also make it easier for you to harvest the fruit, by keeping them at a height you can reach.
Growing in a pot
Start off in a 35 litre container and upgrade to a 90 litre container when growth requires repotting. Make sure the top of the root ball is level with the top of the pot.
Make sure your container drains well and place it in a sunny spot.
Water trees regularly throughout the dry season. However, during the ‘wet’ they will be fine without any additional water.
Pests and Diseases of the Custard Apple tree
Pests of this tree include aphids, borer, scales, mealy bugs, and whiteflies.
It has a creamy white coloured flesh surrounding blackish or dark brown seeds. The fruit size is generally proportional to the number of seeds within.
To make the fruit ripen faster, put the fruit into a brown paper bag with a banana. The banana will hasten the ripening of the custard apple.
The fruit is extremely healthy, some have even labelled it the super-fruit of the 21st century.
Consuming this fruit can help with weight loss. It has zero cholesterol and studies show it helps to regulate blood glucose levels.
The fruit has fibre that adds bulk to stools and help them move through your intestines. Combined with the good bacteria in the fruit, eating custard apples will assist your gut health.
Bullatacin and asimicin are two antioxidant compounds in the custard apple that are known to have that have anti-cancer properties.
A prebiotic is a ‘a non-digestible’ food ingredient that positively affects a person by stimulating the growth of one or more bacteria (that positively increases health) in the colon.
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