Treachery and evil lurk in the garden.
|Morelle de Balbis|
Odd things are happening. Unusual prickly things are growing.
They taste good, but can be a bit of a bugger to pick. They prick.
Morelle de Balbis is one of the most treacherous and down right hazardous plants you can grow in the garden, right along with the majestic and well loved Solanum Atropurpureum.
And I must add people do love it. This year many people came asking for it.
One woman was particularly memorable. "I've gone to all the garden centres" she said. 'I want the plant that will keep the goats out of the garden, but nobody knows what I'm talking about."
And of course that is how I had described it to her last year when I sold her the memorable and unusual ornamental.
One of my favourite families of plants to grow, (beyond the obvious tomato) is the Solanaceae family (solanum), which is the genus both these plants belong too.
This family has many unique offerings, and Morelle de Balbis (solanum sisymbriifolium), also known as Litchi Tomato, is another one to get to know.
This solanum is just coolness in plant form. Another one very worthy of a five minute stare.
This year mine are taller than they have every been. The plants are between 5-6 feet tall, heavy with fruit in sprays on the branches, and each fruit covered by a thorny husk, that pulls up when the fruit ripens to red.
Did I say thorny? Oh my.
I picked a quart for Chef Picone to try and blood oozed from the scratches on my arms.
Yes. Gardening can be a hazardous pastime.
Their taste is pleasant, somewhat of a cross between a tomato flavour and a cherry. But what to do with them? That , my friends, is what the brilliant culinary minds are working on now. I'll report back!
Myself, I just like to eat them as is.
Another prickler I'm growing this year is the Jelly Melon (cucumis metuliferus), also know as African Horned Melon, Kiwano, or Hedgehog Gourd.
No matter what you call it, it is fun to grow and actually very delicious to eat. The elongated green seed capsules inside are jelly-like and have the taste of tropical fruit. An added bonus is that they can sit on your kitchen counter for 6 months without spoiling and also they don't cross with other member of the cucumber family.
But beware. The horns, or thorns on the exterior are sharp. But the flesh inside is worth the pain. Trust me on this one.
Both Morelle de Balbis and Jelly Melons are easy to grow. Surprising for me though was the fact that the Colorado Potato Beetles seemed quite fond of the Morelle de Balbis. Taking their lives in their hands I thought, what with the thorns. No matter. I picked them off and fed them to the chickens who, as usual, devoured them with relish.
I'm saving seed from both these unusual plants, so if you want to try them next year, I'll have both plants and seed available.
Out with the boring, in with the thorns!