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Growing Kiwano from seeds differs little from planting and caring for ordinary cucumbers. Horned melon is more thermophilic and high-yielding, at the same time it is resistant to pumpkin diseases. The fruit contains many trace elements that are beneficial to the body. Therefore, the culture is becoming popular in supermarkets and vegetable gardens.
What is Kiwano and how is it eaten
An annual crop from the pumpkin family, which is planted with seeds for seedlings, has several names: African cucumber, Antillean cucumber or anguria, horned melon, jelly melon, Kiwano and others. A branchy plant in the form of a vine with creeping climbing stems reaches 4-9 m in length. Thin shoots faceted, fragile, with numerous antennae. The leaves are large, 3- or 5-lobed, coarsely fleecy. Weak root system is located close to the surface. Because of this, when growing Kiwano at home, it is better to resort to mulching the soil, rather than loosening it. Yellow female and male flowers are formed along the entire length of the stem in the axils of the leaves, bloom from morning to lunch.
Up to 50-200 ovaries are created on one Kiwano bush. Oval fruits are noticeable with large soft thorns, the size is close to an orange, they are 6-15 cm long. The mass of dissimilar fruits is from 40 to 350 g, there are vegetables up to 480 g. The total harvest from one plant reaches up to 10 kg. Young Kiwano fruits are covered with a green thick skin with marble patterns. As it ripens, the color turns to yellowish and then orange. The jelly-like flesh is green, with numerous seeds.
Attention! It is better to eat a horned cucumber, which is 90% water, fresh, cut into two parts and take out the pulp with a spoon.
Kiwano tastes great as a side dish for meat and seafood. Refreshing fruit is included in snack or dessert salads, combined with vegetable or fruit mixtures. Choose salt, lemon or sugar for dressing. Kiwano is widely used in cooking as an ingredient for compotes, jam, an additive to fermented milk products, soft cheese. Tiny 3-4 day old vegetable gherkins with small seeds and fleshy thorns are pickled and salted. Many people like juice-fresh from horned cucumber, as a drink that tones up the immune and gastrointestinal systems.
Where does Kiwano fruit grow
The plant is native to Africa, its cultivation is now common on an industrial scale in many countries with warm climates. Horned melon is exported by Israel, New Zealand, countries of South and North America. Growing African Kiwano cucumber from seeds is also possible in the climate of the middle zone.
What Kiwano Tastes Like
The taste of a slightly tart pulp is unusual, aromatic, the seeds do not interfere with use. There are notes of cucumber or zucchini, lemon, banana. Someone finds in kiwano something in common with avocado, lime, kiwi. Dishes made from pickled or salted horned cucumber gherkins are appreciated by gourmets for their delicate and pungent taste.
Important! Researchers have found no harmful substances in the Antilles cucumber, but allergic reactions are possible in some people.
How to grow Kiwano from seeds
An exotic vegetable is propagated by seeds, which are sown in advance for seedlings.
Sowing African cucumber seeds for seedlings
Growing kiwano seedlings continues in cups until transshipment to a permanent place for 30 days. Most often, horned cucumber seeds are sown from the 20th of April, and in regions with a cooler climate - at the beginning of May. Separate pots 8-9x8-9 cm are prepared, which are filled with ordinary seedling substrate. Kiwano spiny cucumber seeds are prepared:
- treated with a selected growth stimulant, for example, "Epin-extra";
- germinate for 2-3 days in a warm place.
Exotic seeds are sown to a depth of 0.5-1 cm. The pots are placed in a warm place. Kiwano sprouts are provided with light and warmth not lower than + 25 ° C.
Open ground transplant
In the African cucumber garden, among vegetable crops, a place with light, drained soil is carefully chosen. Kiwano prefers not direct sunlight, but diffused light - buds and small ovaries crumble in hot weather, and the leaves suffer from burns. At the same time, there should be enough light, the plant should not be planted in the shade. Kiwano is suitable for a temperature of + 25-27 ° C, development slows down if the heat drops to + 12 ° C. In the greenhouse, vegetables are in their usual conditions. In the open ground, the exotic is placed under protection from gusts of wind and in a light midday shade. They take care of the supports for the creepers in advance by arranging metal or wooden pyramids.
Seedlings are transshipped in late May or early June with an interval of 50-70 cm between growing seedlings.
Watering and feeding
When grown in the open field, the moisture-loving kiwano is watered every other day, more often in drought. The earth is shallowly loosened or mulched. Weeds are removed, the site is mulched with them.
The culture develops powerfully and forms ovaries with additional nutrition after 15-20 days:
- bred mullein in a ratio of 1: 5;
- insist chicken droppings for a week and dissolve 1:15;
- apply foliar dressing for vegetables;
- use ready-made complexes of mineral fertilizers for vegetables such as "Kristalon" or "Fertika".
Usually watered and fed after the grown fruits have been removed.
Agricultural techniques for caring for exotic Kiwano fruit when grown from seeds include:
- garter of curly stems to supports or special vertical trellises;
- obligatory pinching of the tops of vigorous lateral shoots, where there are male-type flowers.
Pinch the lashes to the ovary, removing barren flowers. Flexible vines are allowed in the right direction, tying them up with soft material. These techniques are especially necessary when growing Kiwano in a greenhouse, where they grow abundantly in an artificially created favorable climate.
Warning! The tough villi that cover the stems and leaves of horned cucumber can cause irritation on the skin in some gardeners when growing and caring for the plant.
Protection against diseases and pests
Like most members of the pumpkin family, jelly cucumbers are resistant to diseases and pests. Ants and aphids are driven off with soap or soda solution. Medvedka, which gnaws at the roots of young kiwano, is destroyed before planting, setting up traps or using targeted drugs.
Features of growing Kiwano
Horned cucumber bears fruit under short day conditions. There is no need to sow kiwano seeds early for cultivation in the open field or greenhouse. The plant blooms in the second half of summer.
Growing Kiwano in the Moscow region
According to reviews, growing Kiwano in the middle climatic zone is best practiced in greenhouses. Flowering in August prevents all fruits from fully ripening. Although some are plucked for ripening and the vegetables may taste sweet, most are small and green-skinned. Such unripe vegetables are used for pickling or pickling. In the process of growing, it is necessary to limit the exuberant growth of kiwano lashes, otherwise they will oppress ordinary cucumbers with which exotic plants are planted. The cultivation of a domestic variety bred by Novosibirsk breeders will be successful.
Growing Kiwano in Siberia
For the conditions of a temperate climate, Novosibirsk bred a variety of African cucumber, which they called the Green Dragon. The vegetation of the plant does not depend on the amount of daylight, flowering occurs earlier, the bulk of the crop, sown with seeds in April, ripens in the greenhouse before frost. The first fruits of the Green Dragon variety ripen by mid-summer. The seeds of the domestic Kiwano are sown in April. After a month of the seedling stage, it is transferred to a plastic greenhouse, but only when the temperature rises above + 18 ° C. If there is no heat, there is a risk of losing young seedlings.
In the optimal greenhouse climate for growing the Green Dragon Antilles Kiwano cucumber, gherkins are harvested at the end of June, beginning of July. Fruits are plucked, which developed 4-7 days. Their thorns are soft and fleshy. This category goes for pickles or pickles. The fruits are mixed with various assortments of tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini. They are used for preparations for the winter and for lightly salted consumption.
The more often fruits are removed when growing Kiwano, the more new ones are tied. The gherkins of the original horned cucumber are harvested after 1-2 days. The left fruits increase, gradually turn yellow, but during this period they do not acquire their taste yet, but only at the end of development - with a yellow-orange peel. It is in this phase that the pulp becomes more and more jelly, with a characteristic melon-banana aroma, lemon notes and a sweet and sour taste. The ripeness period begins 60-70 days after the germination of seeds of the Kiwano variety Green Dragon. Plucked green fruits, which have reached a length of 10-15 cm, ripen outside the bush, remain tasty in six months. Their preservation even at room temperature is ensured by a waxy film that appears on the surface of the peel by the end of ripening.
Attention! Seeds of a horned cucumber remain viable for up to 7 years.
Reviews about Kiwano
Marina Antonovna Bakhareva, 47 years old, Moscow region
I love cultivating various exotic plants along with familiar vegetables, including kiwano. Every year I plant 2-3 plants in the corner of the greenhouse from my seeds. They are quite enough for food and decorative purposes. And in the corner, strong curly lashes are easier to control. I direct them to the sides opposite to the tapestries with cucumbers. Otherwise, they will quickly merge and the kiwano stems overwhelm the weaker ones of a regular cucumber. On the New Year's table I serve a salad with shrimps in an orange peel dish. And I also make original dragon figurines for Christmas tree decorations from horned fruits.
Irina Stanislavovna Radanevich, 45 years old, Altai Territory
The Green Dragon Antilles cucumber was planted this year. I used several seeds for seedlings. It turned out 4 bushes. About 10 fruits managed to ripen on the bush, the main crop with a yellowish skin had to be removed due to very early frosts. The vegetables were delicious in December. When growing, Kiwano was fertilized with vitamin infusion from green grass and chicken droppings. I did not use mineral preparations. The plants were vigorous, standing in a solid green net.
Growing Kiwano from seeds will not be difficult for novice gardeners. Many exotic lovers plant 1-2 plants on the balconies because of its picturesqueness and original fruits. When growing, they comply with the requirements for light and heat, the seedlings do not take out too early to fresh air.