ECOLOGICAL ALTERNATIVE: CULTIVATION OF CAIGUA

The characteristics of the management and growth of the caigua in this entrance are referred for the city of Lima - Peru and will be different if it is desired to imitate its cultivation in other cities of Peru or of other countries.

Some technical data of the caigua crop are:

Scientific name: Cyclanthera pedata ​​b>

It is a plant of scrawny size (it grows lying on the ground); however, it is able to adhere to other plants, trees, sticks, etc. through their tendrils (a kind of hooks that allow them to cling to other objects and climb through them). It can reach heights of 3 - 5 meters depending on the environmental and nutritional conditions of its development.

The harvested part is the fruits of green color and with some thorns; which originate from the female flowers, which are pollinated by the wind or by insects (bees, wasps, etc.); pollen is obtained from the male flowers which grow in groups and surround the female flowers.

It requires well-prepared (loose) soils, medium depth (20-40 cm deep) and mixed with good amounts of compost, wormwood, etc. >

The best environmental conditions for its growth are developed in cold climates (where minimum temperatures are 14 ° C and maximum temperatures of 22 ° C).

Requires abundant water throughout cultivation, however it should be avoided that it comes into contact with the base of the stem to avoid decay.

It begins at three months from its planting approximately, reaching to produce between 8 - 20 fruits per plant; the amount of fruit depends on the final size of the crop, because the smaller the fruit the greater the total amount per plant, because there will be more nutrients to develop more fruits.

CULTIVATION WORK CALENDAR

11 March / 2011: Seed collection (day -1)

Then to prepare a jumping of caigua for lunch I realized that I was going to throw a lot of seeds in the trash, so I selected the biggest ones and put them to dry in the sun on paper.

Since I had a little free space in my garden I decided to use it to plant caigua; so with the help of a hand lamp I removed the soil to a depth of 30 cm, then applied a large handful of compost and removed the soil leaving it ready for planting. On the other hand I selected the 6 largest seeds and planted them in two groups separated by 30 cm. away. Then proceed to cover the seeds and water with plenty of water. 20 March / 2011: Plant emergence (day 8)

Seed sowing >

For more than a week, it took time for the seeds to germinate; in the end, only two plants emerged, but a few days later I found some plants broken, safe for a bird that was looking for food; so I only stayed with two groups of one and two plants respectively.
Seedlings emerging from the ground

April 19, 2011: With the passage of weeks, the plants began to grow without any problem, because in other years the white fly appeared which formed large groups in the lower part of the leaves, this pest sucked the juices of the leaves weakening the plants and facilitating the entry of the fungus of fumagina . In those years what was done to control it was to place yellow traps near the leaves and spray in fine drops water with laundry soap; Luckily this year did not get to present that plague.

The irrigation was done at the beginning twice a week, because the high temperatures of summer caused the soil to dry faster; in the last weeks of April began to lower the temperature so that the frequency of irrigation was reduced to a single time per week. Irrigation is done around the base of the stem so that the water does not come in contact with it because it is sensitive to moisture and can lead to the development of fungi or bacteria that would produce total rot.

Caigua plant of two weeks of life

Caigua plant climbing on other plants in a garden 10 May / 2011: Beginning of flowering (day 59)

One morning as I walked through my garden, I observed carefully that flowering had begun , groups of male flowers were formed that surrounded the female flower as you can see in the image.

The flowers began to form from the bottom to the top of the plant. >

Flower formation in the leaf bases

> 25 May / 2011: Fruit formation (day 74 - 105)

Two weeks after observing flowering, some fruits began to form in the the lower part of the plant, flowers are still forming on the top, which would promise more fruit. development of the fruits is slow due to the lower temperature of the season change (17-18 ° C), however, accelerated when biol (liquid fertilizer) diluted in water each week to all the leaves.

Four weeks of flowering fruit

  • In Peru there are no improved varieties of caigua, so if you want to plant this plant you should go to any market and select the biggest fruit, it must extract the larger seeds for sowing; so through selections you can be sure that the harvest will be good.
  • To cultivate in a normal way the plant of caigua must own a very large space, (sticks to guide it upwards) to prevent the fruits from getting damaged when growing on the ground.
  • As the plant is very large it is recommended to be fertilized through the leaves with a sprayer, among the organic liquid fertilizers stands out the biol that is diluted in water and when used it provides the plant with a great variety of nutrients and hormones. The application is done once a week and thus ensures the development of the fruits.

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