Archive for the ‘Chilacayote’ Category

Wicking box update 2 (& brag)

June 16, 2008

Here’s the wicking box containing the Bok Choy Chinese cabbage, 70 days after sowing the seed. Tomorrow’s the big day when I harvest a couple of plants for stir-fry.

This has been a great trial run for the wicking box idea. Even though the boxes received some overhead rain, they were happily sucking up the water from the bottom reservoir, because I was checking levels regularly and on two occasions found the reservoir empty and had to refill with water.

I’m looking forward to trying celery in the boxes over the coming summer. Celery is a water-loving plant and my previous efforts to grow it haven’t been notable. It’s shallow-rooted and keeping water up to it (remembering to water every day in summer) has been my main problem. I’m not going to direct sow the celery seed into the box as I did with the Bok Choy, as celery seed is very tiny. Instead, I’ll sow it in the polyhouse in seed-raising mix and pot up seedlings which I’ll plant into the box when they’re large enough.

Continuing with the showing off… here’s the first couple of chilacayote harvested.

The smaller one weighs 900 gm and the larger one, 1400 gm. And there’s seven more on the vine rapidly approaching these in size! I made a small trial batch of chilacayote and ginger marmalade yesterday and was given 8 out of 10 for it by the Better Half. Lost a mark for the set (slightly runny…next time add some Jamsetta), and another point lost for ‘not gingery enough’. Sheesh! And I doubled the ginger from the original recipe, too. Some Better Halves are never satisfied.

Oh… and the chilacayote will join the Bok Choy in the stir-fry.

Chilacayote

June 1, 2008

Chilacayote (aka perennial squash, aka Malabar Gourd) is a vine which produces watermelon-sized fruits (only if you let it—they can be harvested quite small). There’s a reference here and although a bit on the technical side (I assume you don’t really care to know that the male flowers are pedicillate with a campanulate calyx), it does have some cultivation and uses information.

I first grew chilacayote a couple of years ago and wasn’t overly impressed with the yield of fruit, it being one of those annoying curcurbits that need both male and female flowers open simultaneously to produce fruit.  I had trouble keeping the water up to it in summer and the huge dinner-plate leaves would wilt alarmingly on hot days. I’d read, and seen photos, of it’s capacity to take over an entire suburb, but it didn’t seem to want to do that here.

Going through my seed bank late last year I found a few remaining seeds and thought I would give it one last try. I planted three plants in a group in late summer, in a shady spot this time and watered them occasionally. It was a sort of, live-if-you-want-to…if-you-don’t-I-don’t-care, scenario.

Somehow they lived, took off, started scrambling through all and sundry, over and under shrubs and trees. I was so fascinated, I let them do it. They started flowering a month ago, a few sporadic female flowers and I thought, ho-hum, typical, no males, and then suddenly the blokes came from everywhere. There are now small fruits all over the place, on the ground and hanging from shrubs.

My first thought was, it’ll be useful for stir-fries. I’ve also found a recipe for chilacayote and ginger marmalade. And I’ll let a couple grow into monsters to get some more seed. That is, if it doesn’t take over the suburb first!