Name: Caigua (pronounced kai-wa), Achocha, stuffing cucumber, 'Giant Peruvian', 'Giant Bolivian'
Origin: South America
This is a little known relative of the cucumber. It is a pretty, annual vine that grows a bit like a climbing bean. It produces large fruits that are hollow and used for stuffing. The fruits don't appear until autumn so don't be worried if you see flowers but no fruit through the summer. Little, immature fruits can be thrown straight into a stew but larger fruits are split and the few hard seeds taken out before stuffing with meat, cheese and vegetables, then baked in a tomato or other sauce.
I am not particularly fond of them but they are interesting, and popular in their native countries. The flavour is a mix of cucumber, green bean and grass - to me.
If you want something hard to get and highly unusual this is it. I do also grow another variety but the fruits are smaller and the flavour is not as good.
When to sow: After risk of frost has passed in spring. late October in Southern Vic. Sow seed where they are to grow
Plant Type: Climber
Uses: Traditionally stuffed and baked or added to stews.
Growing Conditions: Good, manured, well drained soil. Water regularly in summer.
Pests and Diseases: None that I have seen.
Special Qualities: Unusual, rare
Seeds: 12 minimum in packet