‘Cyclanthera explodens’, to give it its’ official Latin name is a relation of fellow South American the Achoca. While both taste very like a sweet green pepper when fried up or used raw in a salad, the best thing about the exploding cucumber is that it lives up to its name – once the gently-spiked fruits are squeezed gently, they burst open and fling their seeds across the garden (okay, into your face if you’re not careful).
Actually, that’s the second best thing. The best thing is that this vine-like, unusual and tasty little vegetable quite happily scrambled up the fence in my not-all-that-sunny garden, despite its well-warmed origins. Then again, if the humble spud can adapt so readily to Irish conditions, why not the exploding cucumber?
I started mine off in April – the flat, jagged black seeds look a little like torn pieces of paper. I just sowed two and planted one outside in May. I was surprised they both germinated, but then I did keep them in the hotpress to get them going. I was even more surprised that the one I planted out took off – it’s in semi-shade and my soil is pretty heavy and boggy.
I got my seeds from The Real Seed Company, who sent them along with the following warning:
DANGER OF EYE INJURY! HARD SEED IS EJECTED AT GREAT SPEED.
DO NOT HOLD RIPE FRUIT NEAR FACE.
HARVEST FRUIT AFTER IT HAS OPENED.
DO NOT ALLOW CHILDREN TO PLAY WITH FRUIT.
We know this sounds silly,
but we recommend that
YOU WEAR EYE PROTECTION WHILE HARVESTING AND PROCESSING FRUIT.
In the next couple of weeks, I should be able to let you know whether or not they live up to their reputation, in the meantime, all I can say is they’ve been fun to grow, they don’t mind the Irish weather, they make a nice looking climber and they’re definitely a talking point. Why not give them a go yourself next year?