An ancient Peruvian crop.

Achocha (Cyclanthera pedata), also known as “kaywa” or “stuffing cucumber” has been cultivated in mountainous areas of South and Central America since ancient times. In 2014 I found a large-fruited variety called Bolivian Giant for sale at The Real Seed Catalogue . It is quite easy to grow – very vigorous once it gets going and the seeds are easy to save. I’m still just discovering the possibilities for eating it.

The fruits start to ripen in August/September, when the soft “prickles” form and they feel hollow when you squeeze them. Harvest them before the frost kills them off.

The simplest way to use them is to pick the young fruits before the seeds start to develop and eat them raw as a snack or in a salad. The most popular way of preparing them seems to be to stuff them, like sweet pepper. A visitor from Columbia gave me the trick: take the seeds out and blanch flesh for a couple of minutes in boiling water so it relaxes and is easy to stuff. Once they are blanched the fruits can be frozen for later use.

Any stuffing used for chille rellenos would work. So would one for Greek stuffed peppers.

Joe Foster

Autumn Show 2023

Our annual show of allotment produce.

Our annual autumn show of allotment produce will be on Sunday 10th September this year, with entries accepted from 11:30. Judging will be by Eric Wells and Roger Storr, starting at 14:00.

There will be delicious home-made refreshments available on a “pay as you feel” basis.

We will be have an exhibit of beautiful photos of our plots, so please let us have your best ones.

Here is the schedule of classes for the show.

Warning: Parsnip Sap

Nasty blisters from sap and sunlight!

At this time of year parsnips are putting up flowering stems and lots of greens. Care is needed when handling these, especially on sunny days. The greens contain a chemical which can cause nasty blisters on the skin if exposed to sunlight ( Wear gloves, and keep your sleeves rolled down. Whatever you do, don’t attack parsnips with a strimmer!

Peter Blakey

42 years at Hollin Lane Allotments

I am very sorry to have to tell you that Peter Blakey died on Wednesday, 8th May, after a short bout of pneumonia.

Peter joined Hollin Lane Allotments in 1981 and became an important member or our community from early on. He served as Secretary and managed plot lettings for many years before passing that job on to Rosie. He finally retired from the Committee in 2014. Throughout this time, and until his death at 89 years old he quietly looked after cutting the grass on our footpaths, even when he was in considerable pain from his knees.

Peter was an excellent gardener. He won our Best Allotment competition many times, and was a formidable exhibitor of vegetables, often winning prizes at our little show, and at others around the city. I happened to raise the subject the other day and he told me that his exhibits had won 31 first prizes last year. He also contributed to the Leeds Allotments Federation’s winning exhibits at some of the Harrogate and Great Yorkshire shows. He was keen for us to improve our own exhibits and showmanship, and composed a handy guide to showing some of the main classes.

In recent weeks Peter did a huge amount of work turning over his whole plot and ridging it in readiness for the new planting season. His latest project was a massive hot bed – a pit filled with hot strawy manure with a cold frame over it to provide summery heat for growing in cold weather. Not being able to see the conclusion of this experiment will be just one of many reasons I mourn his passing.

Peter was always looking for new ways to improve things – not just his own gardening, but the state of Hollin Lane Allotments as a whole. He loved being here, and did much to make it the happy place it is. We will miss him hugely.

I am sure you will all join me in extending our sympathy to Peter’s wife Kathryn and their family.

Peter and Joe Maiden in 2014
Peter and Kathryn helped Leeds Allotments Federation win at the 2016 Great Yorkshire Show