Saturday, February 6, 2010

Why do I want to think about summer today?

Oh, that could be why.

A great weekend to look at seed catalogs and consider which seeds need to be started inside when. One unusual (for this country) plant I may try again, although it wasn't quite a success last year, is Solanum muricatum, the pepino melon.

Pepino melon, as some of you can guess from the Latin name, is a member of the wonderful Solanaceae family, and a close relative of tomato and eggplant. It is native to South America. It's not a melon, botanically, but it tastes sweet like one. Or so I hear. The plant that grew beautifully for us in the demo garden did produce fruit, but a frost started to blacken the leaves before the fruit was fully mature. Here's what it looked like just before that:

(photo by Katherine Lambert)

We picked the immature fruit anyway, hoping it would ripen like a green tomato does inside, but it stayed hard. I did finally cut mine open and try it; it tasted like, um, an unripe melon. But it promised to be good when ripe.

You can see a fully ripe pepino melon cut open at this link.

I think I'll try growing them again, starting plants inside sometime this month so they are sizable by the time we transplant them into the garden in May. The plants are about two feet high at maturity, and grow well in standard tomato cages (you know, the ones that are too flimsy to work for tomatoes). In their native climate they are perennial and evergreen; not here.

Anyone have experience either growing or eating these?

2 comments:

  1. Erica, first of all, thanks so much for your really kind comments on my blog! Totally made my day. I'm glad you said hello and pointed me in this direction. I just got my Baker Creek catalog back from my dad's house after it's been snowed in in Howard County for the past week! The catalog describes the pepino melon as great in salads or cooked. Might be worth a try to cook it??? It did say the pepino melon requires a very long season.

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  2. Hi Wendy, nice to see you visiting!

    Hm, cooking the pepino is a good idea. I am going to try again this year, so if they still don't mature (I think it's a matter of how much heat and sun we get over a long season) they might still be of some use.

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