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Growing pepino

Lately I've been taking our excess chokos to work.  The world seems to be divided into two gorups of people, those who don't know what chokos are (and will take one to try) and those who DO know what they are (and won't take one!).  Very few people seem to actually like them.  The best thing about growing your own food is that you can grow weird things that you would never buy, just to try them.  And the ones that do well in your climate and don't need constant attention and watering, like chokos, you just find a way to use them because they are free food!

eight acres: Growing and eating pepino
Pepinos

Pepino (Solanum muricatum), like the choko, is a perennial food plant.  Pepino is related to tomatoes (I can't decide if they are fruits or vegetables).  I first read about pepinos in Eric Toensmeier books on perennial food gardening.  I wanted to try it, and Chris from Gully Grove kindly offered to post a cutting to me.  I was a bit worried that I would manage to kill it after she had gone to so much effort to post it to me, but pepinos seem to have an amazing will to live and both cuttings grew quickly into healthy bushes.

I planted them in the corner of the garden because Chris said they could get quite large.  Actually it turned out that they spread out more than grew up (in my garden anyway).  I spotted the first fruit and waited for it to ripen.  The first tasting was much anticipated.  I suppose if these were a delicacy you would see them in the supermarket produced by commercial growers, so I shouldn't have expected too much.  There wasn't anything wrong with the pepino, but it wasn't particularly tasty.  Kind of like a crunchy, bland melon.  Certainly edible, if you were hungry enough.


eight acres: Growing and eating pepino
Inside the pepinos

Now I don't want to sound ungrateful, and I will certainly keep growing the pepino, as I keep growing the choko.  I have hardly watered the pepino bushes, yet they are healthy and producing fruit.  In fact I have had to cut back the little bushes several times, which feeds the compost worms.  The chickens like the pepinos (and the chokos) that we don't eat, so nothing gets wasted.  The flowers are quite pretty and no doubt feed the bees.  And if we really had nothing else to eat, these would be great survival foods.  I just wish that raspberries grew here this easily!

Unfortunately in the sub-tropics not everything that is familiar (and available in the supermarket) will grow well, so we just have to make do with a few weird things that do grow well in each season, which can make for some very interesting gardening and eating (here's a few other weird vegetables that I grow).  Thank you for sharing your pepino Chris!  If anyone in QLD would like a cutting, please email me on eight.acres.liz {at} gmail.com and I'll send you a piece!

Have you tried growing pepino?  Have you eaten one?  What did you think?


eight acres: Growing and eating pepino
Pepino flowers are pretty and feed the bees

eight acres: Growing and eating pepino
The first small pepino fruit

eight acres: Growing and eating pepino
The pepino bushes in my garden

Comments

  1. Poor old chokos, they get bad mouthed all over, they really are quite nice, the secret is, pick and eat them when they are young, very shiney and not much bigger than about 10 cms. The older and bigger they get makes them tasteless and tough.
    Just serve with Butter pepper and salt. ...not margarine.
    Chokos are handy to make pie apples go a bit further or to bulk up a stew etc.

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    Replies
    1. yeah I really don't mind them, especially cooked with butter, I don't know why people won't take them from me! Free food!

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  2. If I lived in the area, I'd take your chokos and turn them into chutney! My vine was putting roots down this year, and didn't produce any fruit. Plus the area I selected for them, was particularly harsh. Still, the vine survived!

    I've also used chokos as Margaret suggested, as pie filling. Chopped and cooked with apples and pears, you don't taste choko. Just delicious pie filling. Yum.

    If your pepinos were crunchy, then they weren't ripe enough. I find them sweetest, when they've gone a bit soft and their skin is really yellow. Not pale yellow/green. But I'm so glad they survived for you, and are feeding the chickens too. Mine love pepinos. They grow next to the coop so I throw them in when I notice them. Pepinos are really juicy when they're ripe. :)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Chris, I'll leave the next ones a bit longer to fully ripen. Good luck with your choko! They are certainly hardy :)

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  3. It's all about growing strange food, Stay Weird!

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  4. Well, I have been trying to grow pepinos for a couple of years now. I have only had a couple of fruit which never ripened before they fell off the bush. I have three plants still going. Perhaps it isn't hot enough. No idea really. No chokos here, Liz. I am not a fan.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I suspect its not enough heat either, Nanna Chel. You could place some large rocks around it, Sepp Holzer, style. He does this for growing pumpkins, in his extremely short growing season in the mountains.

      I would build a small, half, retaining wall around it, with a pile of rocks. Facing north, or where it will receive the most sun. Or take advantage of any concrete/brick structure, you already have. Grow them in a pot, positioned near the heat sink.

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    2. Lots of great permaculture-inspired suggestion there Chris :)

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  5. i love pepinos & chokos but can't seem to get either one to grow here! my most recent was choko which didn't survive as it got dug out & eaten, even with netting around it! i do keep trying though, one day they will both grow here
    they often used chokos as stewed pears too, no one was the wiser (think it was after the war)
    thanx for sharing

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't it always the way that you can't grow what you're REALLY like to grow!

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  6. Apple and choko pie - cannot even taste the choko and it stretches the apple...

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  7. Don't think I can grow either here but I'm sure I'd give them a go if they could.

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  8. My choko grows super fast and the vine goes up over the chook shed giving great shade. When it gets a bit out of hand I rip it off and the chooks eat it. The chokos are fantastic for making food go further - apple pie, stews, soups, risottos, stir fries - in it goes with the usual carrots, onions and celery.

    ReplyDelete

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Thanks, I appreciate all your comments, suggestions and questions, but I don't always get time to reply right away. If you need me to reply personally to a question, please leave your email address in the comment or in your profile, or email me directly on eight.acres.liz at gmail.com

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