Anguria can be used as an ornamental or vegetable crop. It is most often grown by lovers of exoticism, since the Antillean cucumber successfully replaces the ordinary one on the dining table, and gardeners prefer to plant perennials to decorate pergolas and gazebos.
Nevertheless, some gourmets consider Anguria fruits a delicacy, they are tasty and healthy, and the plant itself is rarely sick and affected by pests. Agrotechnics of the Antilles cucumber is simple, the seedlings can be grown on their own, the seeds are inexpensive. Why not plant it?
What is Anguria
Anguria (Cucumis anguria) is called watermelon, horned or Antillean cucumber. Indeed, it is a species belonging to the genus Cucumis from the Cucurbitaceae family.
They write anything about the origin of Anguria. Some sources generally "settled" the culture in Central and South America, India and the Far East. But this is not a genus, but a species. It does not happen that it simultaneously appeared on different continents. One species cannot appear even in such remote points of Asia. Some authors generally argue that anguria is unknown in the wild, but got into culture thanks to the Indians.
In fact, everything is not so confusing. Wild Cucumis anguria grows in eastern and southern Africa, Madagascar, and produces bitter fruits. When slaves were brought to America from the black continent, Anguria seeds also got there. By selection, the fruit, devoid of bitterness, was obtained, the plant went wild and spread throughout the Caribbean, Latin America and the southern United States.
Over time, anguria has become so accustomed that in some regions it is considered a weed. It is unsuccessfully fought in Australia, and in the North American peanut fields, culture has become a real problem.
The Antillean Cucumber (Cucumis anguria) is often, knowingly or not, confused with Kiwano (Cucumis metulifer). They especially like to insert more impressive and vivid photographs of the second culture where they do not belong.
Photos of Anguria (Cucumis anguria)
Photo of Kiwano (Cucumis metulifer)
The difference is not so difficult to notice. Not only the fruits differ, but also the leaves.
Description and varieties of anguria
Anguria is an annual liana capable of reaching a height of 5-6 m under favorable conditions, and has a creeping stem covered with fine hairs. In Russia, it rarely grows more than 3-4 m.
If anguria is used as an ornamental plant or planted in a greenhouse, the young shoot is directed to the support. When he grows up a little, he will release numerous antennae, and will twine around gazebos, trellises, pergolas, or climb any established structure.
Unlike most representatives of the genus Kukumis, Anguria is edible and decorative at the same time. She rarely gets sick, the carved, watermelon-like leaves remain beautiful all season.
Yellow dioecious flowers are inconspicuous, but the fruits of the Antilles cucumber look attractive - oval, up to 8 cm long, 4 cm in cross section, weighing from 35 to 50 g. Anguria zelents are covered with rather soft thorns, which harden as the seeds ripen. The fruits become more beautiful over time - yellow or orange, the skin hardens, and they can be stored for a long time.
Only anguria greens are suitable for food - they are eaten fresh, salted, canned, pickled. The taste of raw fruits is a bit like a cucumber, but astringent and sweetish.
If the greens are not picked in time, they will become inedible. Biological ripeness usually occurs 70 days after germination, technical ripeness after 45-55, depending on growing conditions and varieties. Anguria juice is red.
Fruiting is abundant, up to 200 zelents can grow on one liana per season. If harvested, they will appear almost before frost.
When anguria is grown as an ornamental annual, the fruits will ripen, become more beautiful and inedible, acquire a strong skin, prickly thorns. At this stage, the zelents will stop tying up. The seeds are ripening, which means that the plant has fulfilled its task, laid the foundation for the emergence of a new generation of anguria.
Sorts and varieties of Antillean cucumber are not known in Russia. Anguria Dietetic is even included in the State Register (2013). It reaches a removable maturity in 48-50 days, has beautiful striped greens up to 6.5 cm long and weighing no more than 50 g, greenish-yellow juicy pulp. Shoots of Anguria Dietetica are fragile, well branched. Up to 50 zelents are harvested from one plant per season.
The Gourmet Anguria variety produces light green fruits with large thorns. It grows up to 3 m and is grown to decorate the garden and obtain green leaves.
Anguria Syrian can bear fruit before frost. It is distinguished by abundant lateral branching and sweetish light green fruits 7-8 cm long. As an ornamental and vegetable culture, this variety Anguria is grown on a trellis.
The benefits and harms of anguria
100 g of Antilles cucumber contains 44 kcal. Zelentsy are valued for their high content of B vitamins and potassium. Iron, copper, zinc, manganese, vitamin R.
Useful properties of the Antilles cucumber:
- seeds are a proven anthelmintic - they are dried, ground, diluted to an emulsion with water and eaten;
- it is believed that anguria relieves the condition with jaundice;
- raw greens contribute to the removal of sand and stones from the kidneys;
- Antillean cucumber juice mixed with oil is used in the treatment of bruises;
- the fruits are treated with hemorrhoids;
- Anguria leaves infused with vinegar are used for ringworm;
- freckles are removed with juice;
- decoction of the roots relieves swelling;
- Fresh Antilles cucumber greens promote weight loss.
It is believed that anguria is a safe product, except for individual intolerance. But, using it for treatment, it is better to consult a doctor, and know when to stop, without eating kilograms of greens.
The use of the Antillean cucumber
Anguria is used in cooking. The Antillean cucumber is the most popular in Brazil, perhaps that is why many consider it the birthplace of the plant. Zelentsy is eaten raw, fried, stewed, salted, pickled. By and large, they are used in cooking in the same way as a cucumber.
Ripe Anguria fruits look beautiful and are stored for a long time. They are used in making crafts, decorating rooms, and even as Christmas tree decorations.
Bitter forms of the Antilles cucumber are sometimes used as a natural pesticide in granaries.
Features of growing anguria
Antilles cucumber is a thermophilic culture. It grows best in the tropics and subtropics, although it can bear fruit and decorate the site in a temperate climate.
It prefers a temperature from 21 to 28 ° С.The lower critical mark is considered to be 8 ° С, the upper one - 32 ° С.
Anguria requires a fertile, well-retaining moisture, loose, drained soil with a neutral or slightly alkaline reaction and a maximum sunny position. He loves frequent watering with warm water, absolutely cannot stand cold snaps and acidic soils.
If the Antilles cucumber is tied to a trellis, it is better to place it on the south side of the buildings and protect it from the wind.
Planting and caring for anguria
By and large, anguria should be grown in the same way as cucumbers. Their agricultural technology is similar, but the exotic culture in the middle lane did not have time to acquire a large number of diseases and pests.
Landing site preparation
Legumes, any greens and root vegetables are good precursors for anguria. The soil must be dug up, weeds must be removed along with the root, if necessary, humus, peat and sand must be added. If the soil has an acidic reaction, before loosening, the surface is covered with lime or dolomite flour, depending on the pH level - from 0.5 to 1 liter per 1 sq. m.
It is best to dig up the site in the fall, and before planting an Antillean cucumber, just loosen it with a rake. In any case, the operation is carried out no later than 2 weeks before sowing anguria seeds, or moving seedlings into open ground.
Advice! If, nevertheless, the digging of the soil was carried out immediately before planting the crop, it is recommended to water the garden bed with a hose so that the soil subsides slightly.
In the southern regions, anguria can be sown directly into the ground. In the north, it is better to first grow seedlings in peat cups - the Antillean cucumber, like the usual one, does not like to be disturbed by its roots. Consequently, there can be no question of any picking or transplanting from common boxes.
Anguria seeds are prepared in the same way as for ordinary cucumbers - they are heated or soaked. They are planted in a nutrient mixture to a depth of 1 cm and watered abundantly with warm water. They are kept at a temperature close to 22 ° C, high humidity and good lighting. The best place for Antilles cucumbers is the southern windowsill.
Before moving into the ground, anguria seedlings must be hardened. For 10 days, they begin to take it out into the street - at first for 2 hours, but every day the time spent in the fresh air is increased. For the last 2 days, Antillean cucumbers have not been brought into the room, even at night.
Growing anguria from seeds by sowing them directly into the soil is not difficult, it just takes longer, and in the northern regions the first harvest will be received late. And the culture will not last long as a decoration for gazebos - even with a short-term decrease in temperature to 8 °, Antillean cucumber may die.
When the seedlings form 2 pairs of true leaves, and the soil temperature is 10 ° C or more, the threat of recurrent frosts has passed, anguria can be planted in open ground. Weather permitting, it is best to work on a warm, cloudy day.
The holes for the Antillean cucumber are made at a distance of 50 cm from each other, in one row. A handful of rotted humus and ash are poured into each one, thoroughly mixed with fertile soil. You can replace organic matter with mineral fertilizers, for example, a tablespoon of nitroammophoska.
Wells are watered well, when the water is absorbed, Antillean cucumber seedlings are planted. It is better to put the support right away - in the open ground in a week the anguria can grow by 20 cm, and it needs to cling to something. The recommended height of the trellis is 120-150 cm.
Watering and feeding
Angurias need frequent abundant watering. The water should be warm, or the same temperature as the outdoor thermometer shows. Cold is very likely to cause disease, and possibly death of the Antilles cucumber.
The soil must be constantly moist. In hot dry summer, anguria will have to be watered daily, at first spending 2 liters per root. A month after planting seedlings in open ground, the need for water will double.
Advice! Watering Antilles cucumber should be done in the evening or early in the morning, trying to get into the hole, and not wet the leaves.
It is impossible to grow anguria without regular feeding - the liana grows large, gives a lot of zelents, and fertilization gives it all the substances necessary for its vital activity. If the Antillean cucumber decorates the site, there should be no problems. But supporters of organic farming should think in advance about what they will feed the crop, prepare ash, mullein, or put green fertilizer to ferment.
Anguria feeding is carried out every 2 weeks, ideally alternating organic matter and mineral preparations. If you dilute purchased fertilizers according to the instructions, the infusion of mullein is 1:10, and herbs - 1: 5, it is enough to pour 0.5 liters under the root.
The Antilles cucumber has a delicate root system, so top dressing should be diluted with water. Dry ones should not be added, even if they are well embedded in the ground.
Anguria is very fond of foliar dressing, but if the greens are used for food, they can be done only before flowering begins. To do this, you can use special fertilizers, or dilute 2 teaspoons of nitroammophos in 10 liters of water.
Important! If spraying anguria is carried out with infusions of mullein or herbs, they must be thoroughly filtered.
Anguria grown as an ornamental culture is often not pinched at all. Here the task of the vine is to braid the support as thickly as possible to create maximum decorativeness.
Another thing is when they want to get a good harvest of Antilles cucumber zelents. Then the main shoot is pinched, 3-4 of the lowest lateral ones are completely removed - they practically do not yield a crop, since they are in the shade, and only take nutrients.
The remaining side shoots are shortened as soon as they grow a little. When the main shoot is thrown over a horizontally stretched wire, the pinching is stopped. This is how anguria will give a full harvest. Perhaps it will not be as abundant as in the wild, and the owners will receive half or three times less greenery. But they will be large, beautiful and tasty.
Diseases and pests
Anguria is sick and affected by pests not as often as common cucumbers, but you should not forget that these are species belonging to the same genus. As well as planting crops nearby. Then the Antillean cucumber will not be helped by any resistance - both pests and diseases will move to it from an "ordinary" relative.
At the first signs of damage, you need to use chemicals, strictly following the recommendations on the packaging, or folk remedies. Finish processing (if the instructions do not specify another period) must be no later than 20 days before the start of the harvest.
Most often, anguria is affected:
- powdery mildew;
Among the possible pests are:
- slugs (if the Antillean cucumber is grown without support).
Antillean cucumbers that grow in natural conditions, or rather, that have mastered and run wild in Central and South America, yield 200 fruits per vine. In Russia, southerners can collect 100 high-quality green leaves, northerners - half as much, because the growing season of anguria there is much shorter.
Unlike ordinary cucumbers, Antillean cucumbers are edible only when young, they begin to pick them when the skin is easily pierced with a fingernail, and the size has reached 5 cm.This is done every 2-3 days, preferably in the early morning - only then the fresh anguria will be stored 7-10 days.
Anguria is unlikely to replace ordinary cucumbers on our table, but as an exotic culture it has a right to exist. Pickled or salted greens can decorate a festive table, and their taste is pleasant and unusual. In addition, the Antillean cucumber can be grown simply to decorate the site.
Reviews of Anguria (Antillean cucumber)
Maria Fedorovna Kruglova, 63 years old, Balashikha
Anguria was planted for the first time by accident - for the occasion I bought a packet of seeds, which had a photo of prickly cucumbers. It was inexpensive, so I thought: "Why not?" I stuck the seeds into peat cups filled with seedling substrate, and planted them around the gazebo in early June. It was beautiful and exotic, but my husband and I are people of traditional views, next year we planted a blue morning glory, dear to our hearts.
And then the grandchildren came from Moscow for the summer, and immediately to the gazebo. It turns out that they were slowly eating the greens. And we didn’t know they were edible. We looked on the Internet, it turns out that Antillean cucumbers can be put in salads and canned. Now I grow anguria from the southern side of the fence on a trellis, fortunately, I have collected the seeds.
Konstantin Vladimirovich Luzin, 54 years old, Kursk
Every year I plant 4-5 Anguria bushes on a trellis. They are just closing the southern, rather unsightly wall of the old barn. Anguria does not replace cucumbers for us, but it helps to surprise guests in the summer, when we serve fresh greens to the table, and in the winter - the wife closes several liter jars. The main task of this plant on my site is decorative.I take care of the Antillean cucumber exactly like an ordinary one.