Lately I've been taking our excess chokos to work. The world seems to be divided into two groups of people, those who don't know what chokos are (and will take one to try) and those who DO know what they are (and won't take one!). Very few people seem to actually like them. The best thing about growing your own food is that you can grow weird things that you would never buy, just to try them. And the ones that do well in your climate and don't need constant attention and watering, like chokos, you just find a way to use them because they are free food!
Pepino (Solanum muricatum), like the choko, is a perennial food plant. Pepino is related to tomatoes (I can't decide if they are fruits or vegetables). I first read about pepinos in Eric Toensmeier books on perennial food gardening. I wanted to try it, and Chris from Gully Grove kindly offered to post a cutting to me. I was a bit worried that I would manage to kill it after she had gone to so much effort to post it to me, but pepinos seem to have an amazing will to live and both cuttings grew quickly into healthy bushes.
I planted them in the corner of the garden because Chris said they could get quite large. Actually it turned out that they spread out more than grew up (in my garden anyway). I spotted the first fruit and waited for it to ripen. The first tasting was much anticipated. I suppose if these were a delicacy you would see them in the supermarket produced by commercial growers, so I shouldn't have expected too much. There wasn't anything wrong with the pepino, but it wasn't particularly tasty. Kind of like a crunchy, bland melon. Certainly edible, if you were hungry enough.
Inside the pepinos
Now I don't want to sound ungrateful, and I will certainly keep growing the pepino, as I keep growing the choko. I have hardly watered the pepino bushes, yet they are healthy and producing fruit. In fact I have had to cut back the little bushes several times, which feeds the compost worms. The chickens like the pepinos (and the chokos) that we don't eat, so nothing gets wasted. The flowers are quite pretty and no doubt feed the bees. And if we really had nothing else to eat, these would be great survival foods. I just wish that raspberries grew here this easily!
Unfortunately in the sub-tropics not everything that is familiar (and available in the supermarket) will grow well, so we just have to make do with a few weird things that do grow well in each season, which can make for some very interesting gardening and eating. Thank you for sharing your pepino Chris!
Have you tried growing pepino? Have you eaten one? What did you think?