Botanical Bain De Soleil - Cucumis metuliferus

 |Cucumis metuliferus pulp detail|

|Cucumis metuliferus pulp detail|

So this might be a weird way to start a post but...if you're having a problem with keeping ghosts out of your house and need a way to kick those pesky paranormals to the curb, why not take the roots of Cucumis metuliferus, also commonly referred to as the African Horned Melon or Jelly Melon, pound them up, mix 'em with some lard, and smear the produced paste liberally all over your body. The elderly persons of the Okavango region in Southwest Africa say it'll do the trick.  In my honest opinion, I kinda think sporting this botanical-bain-de-soleil while hanging out at home might scare anyone away.  If you're into it...let me know how it goes.   Well, what is this ghost repelling  Cucumis metuliferus, anyway?  It's one of the coolest looking funky fruits I've seen in a while.  Seeing is believing.

 |Cucumis metuliferus fruit + detail|

|Cucumis metuliferus fruit + detail|

Behold!  Have you ever seen anything like it?!  I only discovered Cucumis metuliferus, native to Africa, recently and was even more excited to find it is easy to grow from seed and bonus...is edible.  Last season, I got seed for this alien apparition from my friends at Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company.  Once I got my seedlings planted, they took off on my bamboo trellis and created a bountiful harvest of armed egg-like fruits covered in a spine tingling greenish-yellow skin that later turned bright orange. When I sliced open the fruit, an insanely contrasting and juicy lime green pulp was revealed.  Unbelievably beautiful!  Of course, I tried the pulp to see what magical mystery tour awaited my taste buds and what I got was a TART, with a capital 'T', taste of something vaguely cucumber-ish with a very subtle note of lime and a hint of sugar-free banana.  Now I will admit, it's a taste that I don't find all that knock-down, drag out amazing.  Not in the least.  However, if you scoop out the pulp, strain it to remove the seeds, and add simple syrup to the remaining juice, something interesting starts to happen for the old taste buds.  Something exotic and new.

 |Cucumis metuliferus vine + fruit + tendril|

|Cucumis metuliferus vine + fruit + tendril|

Although the taste of this fruit may not be for everyone, at least Cucumis metuliferus gives us something fun and funky to grow in the garden. The vines are lushly outfitted with beautiful leaves, ticklish tendrils, and produce some of the most intriguing looking fruit ever seen.  Here's a little fact for you...I've seen this fruit at grocery stores for around $9-$10 per fruit!  Why spend that when you can grow your own!?

Cucumis metuliferus is an annual vine.  It likes full sun, rich, fertile soil, and regular water.  Be sure to let soil dry in-between waterings.  It will grow almost anywhere you can grow other melons.  So, why not put some fun and intrigue back into the garden? Use the fruit as decor or better yet make an exotic elixir so green, so mysterious, and serve it at your next get together.  Dare your friends to go where they've never gone before...on a surreal taste safari.