Monday, October 10, 2011


So as I think I've mentioned a couple of times, this year I've attempted to grow Achocha, a curcubit from South America. Although somewhat patronisingly called "A Lost Crop of the Incas", achocha is pretty popular still in South America and I learned this week thanks to a link on the always excellent Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog to Crops for the Future, it is also popular in the Himalayan region. The most popular species is Cyclanthera pedata but the species I'm growing is a variety called "Fat Baby" which is probably Cyclanthera brachystachya, a domesticated relative of the exploding cucumber, Cyclanthera explodens (taxonomy in this area is complicated!). Fat Baby is supposed to rather take over and run wild fruiting like mad in UK conditions but mine sulked for a bit (too dry I suspect) before eventually doing exactly that over the last month or so.


My plan was for it to scrabble up that wigwam of canes but it has resolutely refused to. It's really more of a scrabbler that a pure climber and I think the canes just offer too little support. Here's a little detail from a couple of weeks ago showing it climbing the fence; it's now advancing into the field on the other side apace.....

I harvested 3 a week or so ago and tried one small one raw (tastes like cucumber) and fried two (they are supposed to taste like green pepper but I wouldn't go quite that far - somewhere between pepper and cucumber for me). This week I harvested as many more as I could find.......

Harvesting them is actually not that easy, they are surprisingly difficult to spot, in a good year I suspect you would have so many you wouldn't struggle to spot enough of them to have enough and a few would just get missed. As I wanted all I could get from my slow plant I had to really search hard. I decided to take advantage of the fruit's cucumber like properties and make some refrigerator dill pickles (I used the Food in Jars recipe but subbed in fresh dill and "pickling spice" as I couldn't get dill seeds).


I'll let you know how they work out in a few weeks. The 3 biggest pods had already gone hollow so I popped those and saved the seeds before pickling....


Hopefully one of these will grow bigger and stronger for me next year and leave me with jar upon jar of what turn out to be delicious pickles in a few weeks!

1 comment:

Emma said...

I've heard other people say their achocha was late this year - I don't think it loved the dry conditions. Normally it climbs quite well; mine is fond of taking over the washing line :)