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Growing Cyclanthera pedata (Achocha)
Gardens and allotments are starting to bloom and grow with spring and early summer perennials. Runner Beans climb poles, potato foliage is starting to flower and Sweet Peas start budding up. I love this time of year because all of the hard work starts to pay off and you might even be harvesting plenty of salad leaves and abundance of Rhubarb (can’t beat a homegrown Rhubarb and Banana crumble).
I’ve still got plenty to plant out waiting in the Rhino Greenhouse. We’ve had a few cold days here in Norfolk so I am patiently waiting until overnight temps are a couple of degrees higher and for a day without rain when I am also free to get planting. One plant I can’t wait to get outside is the Achocha.
Achocha sounds tropical and like it will need a lot of care in the UK climate but you’ll be pleased to know that’s not the case at all. All you’ll need to start Achocha seeds off is a Rhino Greenhouse! Sow seeds in spring time undercover into pots of good quality, peat free compost and keep moist. It can help to soak the seeds overnight before you sow seeds but I have tried this and not soaking and germination has always been really high with both. They will need potting on, hardening off and planting out when all frosts have passed.
They will succumb to a frost both in spring and when they are mature in autumn so keep your eye on the weather forecast. However, in-between those times, Achocha will climb high so will need supports (much like Runner Beans) and when the small creamy/white flowers appear so will all of the bees. They love the flowers and it really is a sight to see. Achocha is a vigorous climber so could be grown up and over an arch or pergola. The fruits are a mix between a cucumber and green pepper. On first inspection you might wonder where the fruits are but if you rummage in the foliage you will find an abundance of them hanging like cucumbers with a pointed end. Keep harvesting and more will grow all the way through to the autumn frosts. They are quite amazing!
Once harvested they can be eaten raw, stir fried or stuffed and even make a great chutney. If you hurry, you might find some young plants to purchase online and if not, add them to your growing list for next year.