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Sunday, 27 September 2020

Peppers of All Sorts and Horned Melons

 SPICE IT UP

Black pepper, White Pepper: Peppers of All Sorts

Until recently, this next spice, black pepper, was one of the most traded in the world. 
We’re talking thousands of tonnes of black pepper, can you imagine? But why was that and how does this it grow?

On a tree, a shrub or is it an orchid?
Did you know that to get black peppercorns, the berries are harvested when they are green?
Let's find out more...
I’ve being talking with Ian Hemphill from www.herbies.com.au


The peppercorn that we know is 
Piper nigrum vine native to south India.

All peppercorns are harvested by hand.

Gardeners in the tropics and possibly sub tropics can grow this vine up a trellis or a tree outside in the garden.

Pepper is a jungle plant so that the roots need to remain cool,
The vine will fill a trellis in about three years. Berries that are picked when they're fat and green can be dried to make black pepper.

In the wild, or in plantations where they are allowed to grow up palm trees, the hermaphrodite pepper flowers  are pollinated by rain running down the catkin. This occurs during the monsoon

So if you want to grow one in your home garden, watering the flowers should mimic this.
Berries allowed to mature and turn red, can be peeled and inside is a seed.
This is actually white pepper.

VEGETABLE HEROES:

Horned Melon
Looking like something that dropped from outer space, today we’re growing a horned melon.
  • Scientifically, African Horned Melon is Cucumis metuliferus, but to us gardeners it’s horned melon or kiwano, also African horned cucumber or melon, jelly melon, hedged gourd.
  • Like other melons it’s an annual vine in the cucumber and melon family, Cucurbitaceae.
Why should you grow a horned melon?
Horned Melon Vine

  • For those who like to grow strangely different things this one’s is for you.Its fruit has horn-like spines, hence the name "horned melon".
  • The ripe fruit has yellow-orange skin and lime green, jelly-like flesh with a tart taste, and texture very close to that of a cucumber.In fact as its seeds are found throughout its flesh, not just within a seed cavity, it’s more like a cucumber than a melon.
  • The fruit's taste has been compared to a combination of cucumber and zucchini or a combination of banana, cucumber and lemon.
  • It is also said to taste like an unripe, watered-down banana.
  • A small amount of salt or sugar can dramatically change the flavour.
  • Some also eat the peel, which is very rich in vitamin C and dietary fibre.
Horned melon is native to Sub-Saharan Africa where it’s also a  traditional food plant in Africa.
And it’s one of the few sources of water during the dry season in the Kalahari Desert.
So How Do You Grow This Thing?


Growing a jelly melon plant is much like growing and caring for cucumbers
Plant the horned fruit seeds directly into the garden after all danger of frost has passed and temperatures are consistently above 12 C.
  • Optimum temperatures for germination are between(20-35 C.
  • Plant seeds at a depth of 1 ½ - 2 ½ cm, in groups of two or three seeds.
  • You can also start the seeds indoors, then plant the young melon plants in the garden when the seedlings have two true leaves and temperatures are consistently above 150C.Water the area immediately after planting, then keep the soil slightly moist, but never soggy.
  • Watch for the seeds to germinate in two to three weeks, depending on temperature. Be sure to provide a trellis for the vine to climb, or plant the seeds next to a sturdy fence.
Watering Advice:
Just like for cucumbers water your horned melon plants deeply, giving them at least 2-3 cms of water per week, then allow the soil to dry between waterings.
A single weekly watering is best, as shallow, light irrigation creates short roots and a weak, unhealthy plant.
Water at the base of the plant, if possible, as wetting the foliage places the plants at higher risk of disease such as powdery mildew.
Cut back on watering as the fruit ripens to improve the flavour of the fruit.
At this point, it’s best to water lightly and evenly, as excessive or sporadic watering may cause the melons to split.
When temperatures are consistently above 230-240 C., the horned melon plants will appreciate a few cms of organic mulch, which will conserve moisture and keep weeds in check.
  • The green-yellow skin turns a bright deep orange when ready to harvest, and the pulp resembles lime-green Jelly.
And there you have it.
Horned melon growing is that easy.
Give it a try and experience something different and exotic in the garden.
Why Is It Good For You?
The Horn melon consists of over 90% water and is rich in vitamin C.
It is also a source of iron and potassium and vitamin A.
Plus it only has 103 calories.
As for cooking with it, you can scoop out the inner fruit and toss it in fruit salads or use it as a colourful garnish.
Kiwano or Horned Melons are also excellent in exotic drinks.
 How about a minty gin-and-champagne horned melon or kiwano (it’s other name) cocktail!

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