Monday, 12 May 2014
Bottled shark's fins
This year's new arrivals include the Shark's Fin melon (Cucurbita ficifolia although the wiki article is a bit of a mess) and the Dudhi or Dudi (Lagenaria siceraria ) aka the Bottle gourd or Calabash. The seeds came via the HSL (they appear to be updating the site at the moment and that link might redirect in time) from their Sowing New Seeds initiative and were collected from British allotment growers so should be adapted for local conditions to an extent.
In fact the Shark's fin melon (Rhizowen calls it Chilacayote and has used it in hybridisation) is one of the hardier cucurbits and it is said it will survive outside over the winter in mild places like Cornwall. I have grown it before, way back when in the heady days of the Worthing microclimate, from a fruit purchased in the local Asian supermarket. The flesh I candied and it was jolly nice, as anything with pounds of sugar in tends to be to a susceptible tooth.
I'm hoping it will do well here as I crave the style of huge vines clambering over old apple trees and providing tropical ambience, even in these turbulently climate challenged times. And the fruit will be a bonus really, with those I don't need providing excellent shot for the trebuchet I plan to build to discourage the hunters in the autumn. Or maybe I should cut out the middlemen and just aim directly at the deer.
The bottle gourd is another matter. Really I should have waited until the gods have seen fit to visit a polytunnel on my unworthy patch (which will probably never happen) as just like loofahs it's going to take a very warm summer indeed to make much of them. But the flowers are sweetly scented (I think, as I can't find reference to that and yet somehow I 'know' it, perhaps it was a dream) and pretty and I might get lucky.