Kiwano: a spicy cucumber

Kiwano: A Spicy Cucumber

The kimono in summary  :

Latin name: Cucumis metuliferus
Common names: Kiwano, metulon, Kenyan cucumber
Family: Cucurbitaceae
Type: Fruit vegetable

Height: 1.50 m
Planting distance: 80 cm
Exposure: Sunny
Soil: Loosened and rich in humus

Planting: March-April
Harvest: September-October

Make no mistake about it! Under its spiciness, the kiwano actually hides a delicious flesh with a very surprising taste; which can evoke that of the banana. Also known as metulon or Kenyan cucumber, these fruits sport a mottled green color when young and turn yellow when ripe.

Kiwano: a spicy cucumber

Planting kiwano

To grow properly, the kiwano needs sunlight. It should also be planted in loose soil rich in humus . If your garden or vegetable patch does not meet this last condition, you will have to make some amendments in the fall before planting.

Ground preparation:

In order for your garden soil to be sufficiently enriched for growing kiwano, you need to provide it with a lot of organic matter in the form of well-rotted manure or compost. To help lighten the soil a little and loosen it up, you can also incorporate wood ash which also has the advantage of being rich in potash.
When all these contributions are made, dig the soil using a fork-spade. Avoid using a spade to do this. Our earthworm friends will thank you.

Planting Kiwano:

During March-April, sow your kiwano seeds in small pots or cups. The advantage of using a small container at this stage is that it warms the soil easily, which will make it easier to germinate the seeds. Once your seedlings are made, place them in the light and warm.

At the end of May, when the seedlings have at least three leaves, select the most vigorous in order to transplant them into the ground. As metulon is a plant that particularly appreciates heat, growing in a greenhouse can give good results.

Smart tip: when planting, don’t forget to install a stake or trellis at the foot of your young plants. They can then climb on these supports in order to seek the sun necessary for their growth.

Kiwano: a spicy cucumber

Cultivation and maintenance of Kiwano

Once installed, the Kenyan cucumber does not require any particular maintenance. It is simply necessary to ensure that it has sufficient water, by proceeding to regular watering

Diseases and pests:

Easy to maintain and resistant, kiwano is not particularly attacked by pests or parasites. It may however be susceptible to powdery mildew. However, does not represent any risk for the development of the fruits.

Kiwano: a spicy cucumber

Harvesting and storing kiwano

At the end of summer, when the fruits are adorned with a pretty yellow-orange hue, it means that they are ripe and it is time to harvest them. If you don’t want to be bothered by thorns, don’t hesitate to bring leather gloves.
Picking can last until the fall . However, if there are some fruits that are still green at the end of the season, you can still pick them and store them at home. They will then continue to mature. Once harvested, kiwano can be stored for a long time (more than 6 months).

Kiwano in the kitchen

Whether you prefer sweet or savory , kiwano adapts to all kinds of recipes. You can thus accommodate the metulon in sorbet, sauce, smoothie, soup, or cake.

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