Swapping for Achocha Seeds

Six months ago I popped by An Urban Veg Patch, and was fascinated to find out about a South-American vegetable I’d never heard of before, the Achocha. With fruit known as ‘Fat Babies’, this prolific plant grows in a cucumber-like vine and produces soft-spiked pods that taste like green peppers. However unlike peppers, the Achocha can be easily grown outdoors in the UK and you can rely on it to continuously produce pods well into Autumn. In fact Caro from an Urban Veg Patch told me that she was harvesting Achochas into December of last year.

Achocha pod with a close-up of its soft spikes – photo courtesy of An Urban Veg Patch

I’m all about sharing seeds so after reading her post I thought to ask Caro if she wouldn’t mind swapping with me for some Acocha. A bit cheeky I know but you never know if you don’t ask 🙂 Fortunately she is a very generous lady and sent me a sizable bag of seeds which arrived in the post this week. Because the Achochas that Caro grows are from the Real Seed Company it means that any seed she collects from her own plants will be true and grow into the same type of plant as its parents – you can’t say the same about seed from hybridised veggies. The Real Seed Company only sells heritage variety seeds so growing from their stock makes it easier to save your own seeds for the next year and to also share among friends.

Large Achocha pods – photo courtesy of An Urban Veg Patch

Achocha pods and seeds – photo courtesy of An Urban Veg Patch

Kindly sent along with the seeds were directions on sowing, growing and cooking Achocha which will come in handy for a beginner like me. And in re-reading through this information today I found that May is the month in which they need to be sown. There are quite a few seeds in the packet that Caro sent me but I settled on starting six seeds in three small pots and going from there. I’m not sure how long the seeds are viable but I hope to save some of these for next year (in case of an Achocha-growing disaster) as well as to hand out to some friends.

The directions sent with the seeds are as follows:

Start seeds in small pots under cover in April/May as you would courgettes. Harden off in a frost free place and plant out in a sunny spot when seedlings have 4-5 true leaves and once all danger of frost has passed. Space 18″ apart in good rich soil.

Grow up a tall wigwam, 5′ fence or hedge. Vines will grow 6-10 feet and produce many single fruits. Pick for salads when small (2cm) or grow up to 6cm and stir-fry after removing the large seeds. Can be eaten raw but nicest cooked. Can also be stuffed.

Hoverflies are attracted to the flowers; excellent natural protection against aphids.

So the sown seeds are now in the conservatory and I’m just trying to think of where I’m going to squeeze them in now. Since they seem to enjoy growing on wigwams I’m considering planting them up with some sweet peas in a sunny part of my back garden. Though the sweet peas may eventually become overwhelmed by the Achocha I’d still like to give it a go – experimentation can be one of the most fun parts of gardening. It’s almost as fun as harvesting and cooking new and unusual vegetables.

Thanks so much for these fantastic seeds Caro and I encourage the rest of you interested in gardening to have a look at her blog and post on Achocha which includes far more information than I’ve given here.

Tanya

Tanya from Lovely Greens shares DIY ideas for making natural soap, beauty products, and items for the home and garden. Passionate about the 'Grow your own' movement she also shares organic gardening tips and green living ideas. Find her line of handmade bath and beauty products at lovelygreens-shop.com

25 Discussion to this post

  1. Fran says:

    I grew these last year and they were great, have saved some seeds. I was originally given the seeds by my lovely Nepalese friend who said that they grow in the mountains of Nepal in their vegetable gardens. Love them stir fried, they taste like peppers and also in a hot spicy Nepalese chutney xxx

  2. Ah, that's what they are. I photographed these in a polytunnel at a place we were looking after a couple of years ago and to this day have had no idea what they were. 🙂

    • Hi Lorna 🙂 The blogosphere is amazing for learning and trying things isn't it? Six months ago I'd never heard of or seen these veggies before either.

      Did you try any of the ones from the polytunnel you were looking after? How did you find them?

  3. Tanya, thank you so much for this lovely post, links to my blog and, most especially, for your very kind comments. I'm pleased that the seeds arrived safely and hope that they grow well for you. As you say, trial and error is half the fun of it – I grew mine in a wigwam of peas last year and had good harvests from both! Will be very interested to see how you get on! Caro xx

  4. I have never seen them around here, I will keep an eye open for them as they look interesting!

  5. Jo says:

    When I read your title I thought they sounded familiar, I'd read all about them on Caro's blog. Hope they do well for you.

  6. Gosh, I'm intrigued! I'll have to keep my eyes out and see if they are around here in a specialty market, maybe? Let us know how it works. Thanks for the uber-cool post! 🙂

  7. These sound really interesting…now I am going to have to see if I can find some…I love to try different things…even more so when I've grown them myself…now if only I could get some in time to sow this year?!?! Keep us updated on your progress!!

  8. Lady Fe says:

    I think I'm going to have to give these a try – we've just been given two more beds and I'm busy getting one ready for things like pumpkin, courgette, melons etc.

    By the way, thought you'd like to know that the Cape Gooseberry seeds we swapped in Laxey are going well, got 8 come up on the windowsill 😉

    • That's great Fiona – they do have pretty decent germination don't they? I grew three Cape Gooseberries last year and though we had a mild winter the two planted outdoors didn't make it. The one I grew in a large pot and brought indoors is doing great though.

      If you swing by my end of the island anytime soon I'd be happy to give you some Achocha seeds 🙂

  9. sylvan says:

    I grew Achocha last year and wow were they prolific!
    Had more than I knew what to do with…
    they grew and grew and grew up sticks, over the squash around the sun flowers.. infact a bumper harvest!
    Enjoy them 🙂

  10. Photo-Bug11 says:

    I know it's almost a full year later, but does anyone know where I could find these seeds in the USA? I found 2 sellers.. both require paypal, but my paypal account doesn't want to work and paypal customer service doesn't seem to care to help what so ever.. :-/

  11. No worries 🙂 Try this link for Terrior Seeds

  12. Is there anyway possible for Tanya to send me some of these seeds. The only seeds I can find for sale in the US are the Cyclanthera pedata variety and not the Fat Baby. The seeds at Nichols Garden Nursery are INCORRECTLY labeled as Cyclanthera brachystachya. They are actually Cyclanthera pedata. Please, I'm desperate to find actual Fat Baby achocha (Cyclanthera brachystachya). Can someone please help? I will happily pay via PayPal to anyone who can send me some.

  13. Daiva says:

    I have the same problem, can't find the source of Fat Baby seeds in US, and UK seed companies won't ship to US. There was one source (American Homestead, but they sold out). I was wondering, if anyone would trade me some of theirs to some of my seeds -I have moringa, Mexican Sour gherkin, West Indian gherkin, ground cherries, and some other seeds to trade.

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