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Grow Your Own Achocha

Updated on May 15, 2014

Achocha - lost crop of the Incas

Achocha was one of the food crops grown by the Incas that never became popular in modern times. But achocha is an easy and attractive plant to grow, providing food, screening and a talking point for your garden.

Achocha is also an easy plant to save seeds from - so you only need to buy seeds once and then you can share with all your friends!

Top of the Crops?

Achocha may be one of the 'Lost Crops of the Incas', but it hasn't been entirely forgotten.

Have you heard of achocha?

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The Lost Crops of the Incas: Little-known Plants of the Andes With Promise for Worldwide Cultivation - Discover more lost crops!

This fascinating, readable volume is filled with enticing, detailed information about more than 30 different Incan crops that promise to follow the potato's lead and become important contributors to the world's food supply. Some of these overlooked foods offer special advantages for developing nations, such as high nutritional quality and excellent yields. Many are adaptable to areas of the United States.

Lost Crops of the Incas includes vivid color photographs of many of the crops and describes the authors' experiences in growing, tasting, and preparing them in different ways. This book is for the gourmet and gourmand alike, as well as gardeners, botanists, farmers, and agricultural specialists in developing countries.

Grow your own achocha

How to Grow Achocha

Achocha (Cyclanthera species) is a member of the Curcubit family of plants, like squash and cucumbers. It's an easily grown climber which will make an interesting screen in your garden. The flowers are small, but loved by hoverflies (beneficial garden insects) and achocha produces a prolific harvest of fruits in late summer.

Read more about growing achocha in your garden.

Lady's Slipper Achocha Fruits
Lady's Slipper Achocha Fruits

Achocha: An Alternative to Green peppers

Achocha is an easily grown and productive crop

Whilst achocha is a member of the same plant family as cucumbers and squashes, its taste is often described as being like green sweet peppers. If you have problems growing peppers (because of your climate, or those pesky pests) then you might want to try achocha as an easily grown and very productive alternaitve. If this idea appeals to you then hop over to Cottage Smallholder and read Achocha: an easy alternative to growing sweet green peppers.

Source seeds via eBay

If you're having trouble tracking down achocha seeds, keep an eye on eBay as they are often offered for auction.

Achocha seeds
Achocha seeds

Save achocha seed

Saving your own seed from achocha is easy

If you've tracked down a source of achocha seed, and grown your own plants, then the next step is to save your own seed - so you have a supply for next year, and you can share this wonderful plant with fellow gardeners!

Saving seed from achocha couldn't be easier.

The first step is to harvest some ripe achocha fruits, that have reached their full size.

Next you split them open, to reveal the mature seeds inside. They are large, hard and either black or dark brown.

Simply extract the seeds and put them on a plate to dry for a couple of days. Once they're dry they will store until next year, and you can pack them safely away or send them off to your friends.

The star of the show!

Learn About Achocha with the Alternative Kitchen Garden Show

Achocha is such a wonderful plant that it's the star of its own episode of the Alternative Kitchen Garden show! Listen in to find out where to find seeds, how to grow achocha and all about it's close relative - the exploding cucumber!

Plants For A Future
Plants For A Future

Plants for a Future: the website

Edible, medicinal and useful plants for a healthier world

The Plants for a Future project aims to develop lesser known food and non-food plants into useful crops and protect our environment. The online PFAF database is a valuable resource for everyone interested in plants, although for browsing I prefer to read the book (see below).

Read the PFAF entry for achocha.

Plants for a Future: the book - Edible & Useful Plants for a Healthier World

Ken Fern's encyclopedic work on hundreds of temperate plants that are edible or otherwise useful, with emphasis on perennial plants.

The Heritage Seed Library

A great source of heritage seeds

In the UK, one of the main sources for achocha is Garden Organic's Heritage Seed Library. The HSL has seeds for Lady's Slipper achocha. You have to join the HSL to get hold of any of their seeds - but your membership fee entitles you to choose 6 packets of seed from their catalog. You usually get a 7th packet free as well.

Exploding Cucumber

The exploding cucumber is a close relative of achocha - but a little more dangerous to grow!

Real Seeds

The best vegetable seeds for the kitchen garden

Achocha seeds are most often available from companies who supply heirloom/ heritage vegetable seeds.

One such company in the UK is Real Seeds, who supply open pollinated vegetables suitable for the UK climate so that kitchen gardeners can save their own seeds for future use.

Real Seeds supplies seeds for Fat Baby achocha and its close relative the exploding cucumber.


How To Grow Achocha

A quick guide for the time poor!

Achocha is a climbing plant that is related to melons and cucumbers. An easy plant to grow, achocha was one of the food plants of the Incas and provides plentiful edible fruits in late summer. A vigorous climber, it makes a very good screen and provides a talking point for your garden.

How to Grow Achocha

Growing Unusual Vegetables - Weird And Wonderful Vegetables And How to Grow Them

One of the few books to give detailed growing instructions for achocha, along with some details about its history and harvesting and cooking tips. And if you get a taste for unusual edibles, there are plenty more here to try!

Growing Unusual Vegetables: Weird And Wonderful Vegetables And How to Grow Them
Growing Unusual Vegetables: Weird And Wonderful Vegetables And How to Grow Them

Growing Unusual Vegetables is for gardeners who like to try something different. In this book they will find more than ninety unusual plants, all of them edible. The book is divided into sections on greens, roots, fruits, seeds, grains, and flavorings for easy reference. Each plant entry comes complete with comprehensive cultivation instructions, hardiness zones, and fascinating notes on the plant’s origin, history, and uses.

With this indispensable guide, you can turn your garden into a unique storehouse of useful and unusual edible plants, many of which are surprisingly easy to grow.


Can you dig it?

Now that you know all about achocha, what do you think?

Will you be growing achocha?

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Have you discovered this lost crop? Let me know!

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    • paulahite profile image

      Paula Hite 3 years ago from Virginia

      What a cool lens! Thanks for the history lesson as well! I shared your lens on our facebook page today.

    • profile image

      Aunt-Mollie 4 years ago

      I've actually never heard of this vegetable before. I have experience growing bell peppers and they are quite easy to grow. From your description, achocha looks easy, too!

    • GardenIdeasHub LM profile image

      GardenIdeasHub LM 4 years ago

      I was very interested in growing achocha and thanks for the tips.

    • takkhisa profile image

      Takkhis 4 years ago

      Yes! We have grown achocha.

    • profile image

      gemjane 5 years ago

      Thanks for sharing something new!

    • profile image

      DementiaAdventure 6 years ago

      Love your lens, we grew exploding cucumbers last year and have all sorts of unusual seeds on the go.

    • MyCrazyAdventures profile image

      Melissa 6 years ago from Albuquerque, NM

      I grew up in the Southwest US with all kinds of squash but had never heard of achocha. Thanks for the lens and information Emma.

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Great lens! I can't wait to try growing achocha.