Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Exciting new species of edibles.

After many years I finally have a couple of the perennial plants that were in the Permaculture manuals as excellent perennial crops. Luckily a few people in Perth have been growing some of these rare seeds and there is a network of food growing, seed collecting gardeners that are sharing the joy of growing their own food. 

Chilacayote (Cucurbita ficifolia). 

This rambling perennial vine produces round zucchini-like fruit that are eaten small, around apple size when they can be steamed or eaten raw. Medium ones are good baked and larger fruit can be used added to soups or stews to add bulk. The seeds are also said to be tasty from the big fruit.

Pigeon pea.
Pigeon peas are a tallish shrub that makes a lentil type pea. Useful plant for making shade and structure for beans to climb. It is a notrogen fixer too, being a legume. Quite handy.

Mouse melon (Melothria scabra).
This little melon grows rapidly and produces small fruit likened in flavour to cucumber. I haven't tried any yet, but a few folk in Perth and Albany have had success. Looking forward to these. Hopefully they will not be tasty to rodents.

We also have yakon growing in a few spots this year, so I guess we should actually eat some this autumn when it is ready.

Maybe this year we can trick the pesky rodents and end up with something to eat from our garden for a change.


Meredith Parkins said...

hi Vicki - where can I get pigeon pea seeds from? I love eating these and previously have not seen them available in Australia!

NQ said...

Hello Vicki, Please tell me when is a good time to plant this Chilacayote (Cucurbita ficifolia). I am told that it is also called shark fin melon - is that correct? Thank you :)

NQ said...

Hello Vicki, please tell me the best months to plant this in Perth, Western Australia - Chilacayote (Cucurbita ficifolia). I heard from a friend that it is also called shark fin melon. Is that correct? How big does the melon grow to? Thank you :)

Vicki said...

Hello, NQ. I planted the chilacayote seeds at the end of winter/early spring so they had the maximum time to grow before autumn. They are still alive which is good as I haven't been feeling much love for the garden this summer. A few of the perennial things have done well though, luckily.
I haven't heard the name shark fin melon, I wonder if it a texture reference?

NQ said...

Vicki, it is called shark fin melon because when it is cooked, it breaks up into strands which resemble shark fin soup which is a Chinese delicacy. I refuse to eat shark fin soup on principle as sharks are killed just for their fins. Shark fin melon is a good substitute.