Thursday, April 21, 2011

Lost crops of the Incas found....... my conservatory. There's been a fair bit of interest of late in some of the "lost crops of the incas", plants grown in that great south american empire (and in many cases still enjoyed today in South America)  but which have yet to spread through the rest of the world. Notable successes recently have include Quinoa and Oca both of which are starting to get popular. You can read about a number of these "Lost Crops" in this excellent online book btw). I'm growing a couple....


This is a rocoto (aka locoto or manzano) chilli. It's a completely different species to all the other chillis I grow and to any chilli you'll likely see in a supermarket or market anywhere in the world other than a few south american countries. Rocoto was prized by the incas for its taste and structure which are rather different from other capsicum varieties and it is also handy in that it grows in cooler climes than most due to a preference for high elevations. The species is named C. pubescens due to its hairy stems and leaves.

Also unlike other chillis (but like many other nightshades) it flowers purple.


The plant above is "Fat Baby" Achocha, Cyclanthera brachyastacha, a curcubit. It should form a climbing plant covered with fruit which can be eaten raw when small (said to taste like "minty cucumber") or cooked when big (said to taste like green pepper or artichoke). I've heard a lot about what these taste like but no-one seems able to nail down a flavour. We will see how I describe the taste soon enough hopefully.

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